Thursday, November 05, 2009


Testing something in blogger

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Moving on.

Just in case any of my few readers are still checking in here occasionally.. I've decided, after a few months off blogging, that I needed to reinvent myself. (It's my theme for 2009). So I've moved! New blog, new look.

Drop on over and say hi. I'm feeling as if I've been off travelling or some such, then settled in a totally new place. It's going to take me a while to find my feet, so a few familiar faces would be wonderful!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009



Um... I've been sick - that's why I haven't been posting. Yep. That's what it is. No, I didn't get the sore throat, but I've definitely had Januaryitis. Never mind Ms 15 with her glandular fever. When they develop a blood test for my condition, maybe I'll get as much sympathy and concern as she's been getting.

I seem to get it each summer when we spend the school holidays at home. My circadian rhythms slew off course. I fall into the stupid, stupid, stupid pattern of sleeping in, then going to bed late. Over and over and over. That causes more lethargy, and so by the time the kids are back at school, I'm really struggling.

Throw in your typical late summer heat and humidity, and then the occasional stupidly early morning (for our Saturday morning community bike ride), and I'm totally cactus. While Ms 15 is bouncing back from what appears to be a fairly mild dose of Glandular Fever, right now I'm the one who feels inexplicably fatigued. (Though yesterday the chiropractor attacked my adrenal glands, and I feel a bit more sane today.)

In my defence, I haven't actually been achieving nothing in all this time - even though my natural tendency is to focus on what I haven't done, rather than what I have.

Our Tassie bike trip is looming fast, and I have spent many days agitating, via email, for all the participants to respond and to help make decisions on who is bringing what, where we are meeting, what we are eating, the route, etc etc. I'm also trying to coordinate what we, as a family, need to take - and what else I might need to buy. Tick, tick, tick. Now entering the STRESS zone over it all, as it is now just under 2 weeks till blast off.

I've done netball meetings, netball newsletters, sourced and organised new netball uniforms for the association, updated the website with rego details, and worried about when I'm going to find the time to do a website makeover.

I've done a BUG (Bicycle User Group) meeting, and I've been trying to coordinate organising a club jersey (and resisting the urge to scream at people who reckon we should go with x or y company 'cos their stuff is cheap, never mind that their size range is unsuitable for the non-athletic types we are encouraging to get on bikes with the BUG) and also worried about when I'm going to find the time to do a complete website makeover.

I have been worrying about Ms 15 - trying to suss out whether she just feels unfit from lack of activity, or whether some of it is still the GF, and whether she will be ok for Tassie. (She is not feeling the need for lots and lots of sleep, so we suspect it has just been fitness.) Given her reversion to her normal habit of staying up late, despite my pleas for her to look after herself, I'm pretty much ready to pronounce her totally recovered. (And having escaped lightly.)

We have been trying to get a bit of tandem and triple riding in, in preparation for the Tassie trip - easing Ms 15 into it gradually. But despite riding last weekend, and doing swim squad on Monday, somehow I've done no exercise the rest of this week, and so am quite disgusted with myself.

I am back to taxi driving my kids hither and thither after school, and wondering how I'm going to fit in my exercise with all their stuff and a husband who plays Touch three nights a week. (There's this thing called DINNER you see...)

I have enrolled in my TAFE course [Cert IV Information Technology (Websites)], and it starts on Monday. Eek!

I spent a day last week timekeeping at Ms 10's school swimming carnival, and being very proud of her going in every event, even the 100m freestyle, and the 200m medley, and so ending up being age champion again - despite the fact that the sports teacher announced it incorrectly at the school assembly the following day. (The results sheet that came home had her down as 11yrs champion, and the points add up.) She is SO a convert to the 'got to be in it to win it' attitude now. (The only 11yrs girl to go in every event. Did I mention I am so very very proud of her?!)

I've not had the headspace for blogging (ie. I've felt too guilty about the time it takes me to compose a blog post) and I am feeling like this blog might have had its day. I think it has just about served its purpose for me. I started it to practise my writing, and I do think that I have improved over the 2 or so years that I have been doing it. Alongside my web design course, I intend to pursue my writing as well, with a grand plan to get stuff published - magazine/feature writing of course - I don't have an imaginitive bone in my body - and 2009 is shaping up to be the year to reinvent myself. A new blog, a new look. A new me. With my usual time management issues (which is code for 'procrastination over housework') I need to focus on getting my act together - a challenge with the whole Januaryitis thing on top of everything else.

(And while I'm about it, lose the dumb weight I put on over Christmas and January.)

So, posting here will be sporadic for a while, until I set myself up somewhere new. Of course, I can't help myself - I do seem to have an unhealthy addiction to maintaining an online presence. (Hey world, this is ME. Oi! ) But I'll be making do with Twitter, and Facebook (which I finally joined, but use merely as a quick and easy diary/journal, not all the other rubbish.) Right now it's the more appropriate course for a time-poor procrastinator.

I'll still find time, of course, to keep reading my fav' blogs... so I'll continue to buzz around like an annoying mosquito and I'll post here occasionally.. maybe more photos than anything else...

If you want to keep up with me, there's always the dreaded Facebook (link to the right), and I'll try and keep Twittering as well (which doubles up on Facebook.) I promise I don't participate in the typical Facebook crap (much like I don't indiscriminately forward chain emails) My "wall" is my diary, and not a mindless joining or clicking on causes.

Wish me luck in my 'recovery' eh?

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The week that went nowhere.

Ms 15 is sick. Came down with sore throat on SAturday. Took her to after hours dr on Sunday. Tonsillitis. So she got antibiotics. (Syrup version as she still can't swallow pills.) By Tuesday, no improvement, worse I'd say. So took her to local drs surgery. The only dr you get to see when you make a same day appointment is the newest blow-in, new-out doctor who never gives you much confidence. Dr Inexperienced fiffed and faffed looking up stuff on his computers. Eventually gave us script for different type of antiobiotic but told us we should wait till the next day, as it can take 2-3 days to kick in...

Next morning she is WORSE. I fill the script. This time it's only a twice a day dose, so needless to say it wasn't a surprise that she didn't improve yesterday.

Today.. still no good. Worse even. Reckon I might be cranky I took the doctor's advice?

So we're off to the doctors again this afternoon. (Taking her to a different surgery.)

Meanwhile all she is up to (for distraction purposes) is TV and movies. So we have been through this year's Schools Spectacular. Just about every episode of Black Books. All three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and now we're watching last year's Schools Spec.

It's hot outside - there is no incentive to go out, or even to go upstairs. Our loungeroom is also the computer area. Distraction much? Oh yes, and I am easily distracted. I find myself sidling over to the lounge chair and watching too. (At least we are keeping her company, no?)

Now? Don't care so much, but can I concentrate on any of the computer (volunteer) stuff I have to do? Not a jot. Noise, noise, noise. Arrrgh!! It's doing my head in, but I don't have the heart to deprive her of a distraction.

I'm fighting off the sore throat thing too now.. just feels .. not right... Which would be all I needed.

Happy Holidays.

Ed: Glandular fever. aka Mononucleosis. Epstein-Barr virus. Kissing disease. (See what happens when you get yourself a boyfriend, oi. To be confirmed by bloodtest and throat swab, but it all fits. Yeah, I had it when I was at college. Hope I therefore have a good resistance to it, and that noone else in the family manages to catch it/have caught it and come down with it when we are headed off to our bike ride in Tassie....

Monday, January 12, 2009


The one about the crazy mother and the shoez.

Last night Marc and I decided to whizz out after dinner to the summer holiday open air cinema. (I am still getting used to this concept of just waltzing out spontaneously, no need for babysitting...)

BYO chairs, food, drink etc. Obviously no need to dress up, but I seem to have reached a problem point with my footwear these days. I wanted to wear closed in shoes, but my joggers are really daggy - I need new ones - and I feel like such a frump. I needed something to brighten myself up.

"Hey Cait. I don't suppose you'd let me wear your volleys?" (These are the canvas shoes she has handpainted.)

"What?! WHAT?!!!"

"Oh.. well, it's just that I feel like wearing something a bit nicer than my joggers, and I don't have anything decent right now."

"You want to wear my handpainted volleys.. the ones that took me 5 HOURS to paint. On a TREK or something...?!!!"

"Trek? We're just going to the outdoor cinema thingy..."

"Oh! OK then, sure."


"Well, you just never know with you two. You're always going off doing crazy outdoor stuff..."

* She is starting to take orders... and once she's done some, she might get an online shop going. (For now she's advertising it on her myspace, which I don't even dare ask if I can see. (I mean, sheesh, you don't let your mother see your myspace!)

Nonetheless I am very proud of her artistic ability, and so I'll do my best to promote her little enterprise. I guess I might just order my own pair now too!

Contact her at caitlinmuffin(at)hotmail(dot)com for a quote.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The road to somewhere is paved with good intentions.

Hell, isn't it? But if I don't start with the good intentions, then there is no hope, is there? Resolutions, schmesolutions. I've made them before, not always to great acclaim, and the new year variety is all a bit ho hum, yadda, yadda, sure Tracey...

My head is spinning with the various things I should be doing. They range from the Cleaning variety (of which there is much too much) to the Catch Up With All The Stuff You Were Meant To Do For Christmas variety, to the Put Plans Into Action variety. Like Plans for 2009 - our Tassie trip for one. And the Lets Get On With The House Renovation plan. And, foremost, the Get Off Your Bum and Lose The Weight You Have Inexplicably Put On Since November plan.

So what has been chewing up my time these past couple of days? I decided to finally sign up for Facebook, that's what. What the hell? Where was that on the List of Things that Need Doing Urgently?


The road to hell is actually paved with procrastination and distractions.

I did learn an interesting new word today from an article in Saturday's newspaper: "Staycationing". So now I have a name for what we just did. You're welcome, local economy. Though heaven knows, I've tried to avoid the shops since Christmas. From the crowds in the shopping centres you'd have to seriously query that there is any sort of economic crisis. My god, yesterday there were so many people in one place, and on MY mobile phone network (Yes. Optus. YOU.) I couldn't get texts or calls out. Or in as it turned out. This was kind of inconvenient when I was in the middle of agreeing to meet up with Marc for lunch. I found him eventually, but not till we'd wasted half an hour of his precious lunch hour, never mind my sanity. His text telling me time and place came in 15 minutes after we'd managed to meet up.

So today?

Stuffing around on Facebook, trying to figure out how it works, how you search for people, how you network. [I have no idea why this is suddenly so important to me when I have, up until now, dismissed it.]

I've caught up with the hilarious entries on

I have read others' blogs, of course.

And here I am doing a blog post.

I am, at least, going to a holiday swimming squad class tonight. Heaven knows I need the exercise.

Meanwhile, it's 35 degrees out there. It is a bit cooler sitting here with a sea breeze, thankfully, wafting through the french doors - this is the coolest place in the house, which is probably another reason why I'm loathe to get up. At some point in the next hour I need to figure out what to prepare for dinner - preferably without needing to go out to any shops. The staycation is over, Trace. The easy BBQ meal option is again relegated to weekends when the BBQing King is around to cook it, and it's back to agonising over what feed the troops for dinner.

Please tell me I am not the only one who struggles with good intentions but many distractions.


Monday, January 05, 2009


Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to work he goes...

Marc went back to work today, so the Family Holidays are kind of officially over. There are still almost 4 weeks standing in between me and the relative freedom that Back to School represents. (Although the term time after school insanity kind of cancels that out.) But then, the grand plan is for me to enrol in a full year (almost full time) TAFE course this year, so *whooshka* - there goes any thoughts of me and any sort of swanning around with some ME time. But more about that next post or two.

The last few days of our hometime holiday wound down to a bit of an anticlimax. Friday's grey skies (and thus no sun, sand and surf) were given a bit of a lift; Marc, in a moment of weakness, had suggested that we let the kids take a friend each to the annual local summer holiday amusement carnival. It proved successful, if not expensive.. The grey skies led to a bit of rain, but I suppose that was provident - it kept the crowds away, so there was no queueing. (And only a bit of grumbling from me.) Just watching the kids on the rides is vicarious entertainment in itself. I could feel a stupid grin on my face as I watched them. (Except for watching Ali and friend on the Skywalker*- that just freaked me RIGHT out.)

Photo time:

Yes, that is a boy friend with #1. We have only just met him too. If you can count a noisy carnival atmosphere as "meeting". Apparently we are scary and/or embarrassing, and/or excruciating so we had not been entitled to meet him, up until the drawcard of an amusement carnival. (And that's about as much as I can say on THAT without being further pilloried for being whatever it is that I am.)

#2 and friend - or rather friend + #2 - preparing for one of the tamer rides.

* And now, I am posting this youtube video to demonstrate the Skywalker, because even if we had managed to take a picture (given that we forgot the camera, and the above shots were taken on Marc's phone) it could not go anywhere near demonstrating how a mother might be feeling watching her baby UP THERE! DOING THAT!

This was taken by someone at the EasterShow this year. Same ride. First 2 minutes will give you the idea.

Anyway, they survived. Without a silly grin on Mum's face. Speaking of silly grins, the Mum and Dad had a go on the old Cha-Cha (aka Whizzer), for old time's sake. And #3 was braver than we've ever seen her, helped by the fact that the friend she took was not pushy about encouraging her to have go on some rides that looked ever so slightly scary. We took them both on the Hurricane, which was a HUGE thing for Zoe - she needed Dad's protective arms for that one. (I screamed too.) And so a happy and carefree time was briefly had by all. (As long as I try not to think about value for money...!)

Because we'd been enjoying our days of sun, sand and surf, and generally lolling about, we had left it till the bitter end to pay a quick "Christmas" visit to Marc's mum. We'll just duck down to Tea Gardens on Saturday afternoon, we said. And stay the night, and come back Sunday. Is it an Australian thing to use the words "duck down" - meaning a 'quick trip' - for a 4 hour Plus drive? Each way? And to then NOT factor in holiday traffic on the Pacific Highway (caused by extensive kilometres of roadworks, and merge-into-one-lane factor AND the one-set-of-traffic-lights factor of soon to be bypassed towns?) And also to NOT factor in the IDIOT factor of holiday drivers who can't even build their speed back up to the 80kph (for roadworks) limit when the traffic DOES dissipate and spread out?!

So a four hour drive became an over 5 hour drive, with quite some time crawling along as per above, and we cursed our the stupidity of our timing. But we think Nana appreciated the visit.


Friday, January 02, 2009


Constant cravings

This isn't a good start to the new year. Most of this afternoon I was prowling around the house restlessly, looking for chocolate, when I knew full well I didn't have any. Even though I knew FULL WELL that I seriously don't need to ingest any more kilojoules. How the hell can I have put on weight so quickly and easily over the past few months? (Feels like a new year's resolution coming on, doesn't it... ho hum.) I may have mowed the yard, front and back, today, but I don't think I burned enough energy to warrant any treats. Damned holiday season, where you eat whatever just BECAUSE. Will have to put a stop to that real soon.

We have been so fortunate with the sunshiney days. Beach Days! We got our Beach Days this year! To the point that I was secretly relieved that a southerly blew in overnight, and the grey, overcast skies and cooler temperature put paid to any thoughts of heading down to the surf again this morning. (On top of the super-sleep-in, catching up with the late night out on New Year's Eve.)

We've had a few great morning swims, though. Heaven knows, jumping around in the ocean, catching waves, and then wading back out again, constantly diving under incoming waves, has got to be rated as a good workout. (My leg muscles tell me so, anyway, and I think it's contributing to a bit of the slight weariness I feel.) My dearly beloved tells me that I'm 'really getting the hang of the body surfing', so I am quite chuffed with myself in that respect.

We also headed down there a couple of afternoons, even though the waves are never quite as good at that time of day (particularly on the low tide) - so I did manage to muck around with the camera a bit more. (All the time wishing I had more zoom.)

Low tide is always good for reflections:

And for those who are taken with the sand balls made by the crabs, I took some more photos.

I really don't know much about how or why the crabs make them. We think they are probably sand bubbler crabs. We just take them for granted at low tide.. They are funny to walk on in bare feet. A bit like masseur sandals!

I try to get all arty farty. Nothing amazing, but I'm working on it:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Interpreting the stuff we take for granted.

When I write here I am keenly aware that there are things we say and do here that aren't the same as other parts of the world. Particularly in the US!! Often I translate on the fly but I still get caught out.

For the sake of those who have asked (jerseechik, comments, last post!) and any others, here are some immediate answers, plus I shall try and paint a further picture of our little slice of life downunder at this time of year.

Many of our traditions, interests, and vernacular, hail from dear old England. The mother country and all that, you know. Cricket is a prime example. Netball, the sport my girls play, is another. Both are pretty much only played in commonwealth countries, although Canada seems to be the exception to this.

But back to questions from my last post. What is Boxing Day?.. Well, it is, simply, the 26th December, and a public holiday here. Until jerseechik asked, and I wiki'd it I had no idea it was a public holiday only in Commonwealth countries. Well, it's a public holiday unless you work in a shop. The Boxing Day sales are now a huge thing, but, as you might imagine, it's the kind of current 'tradition' that I very definitely avoid. After fighting my way through the pre-christmas hords, and after the money spent for christmas, the last place I would want to be is in a shopping centre with a kazillion other people.

As the wikipedia article notes, the two big Boxing Day events in Australia are the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and the Boxing Day Test . A cricket test match is a five day game - and as someone who grew up in an anti-cricket household, I can say, having been educated since by my sport mad husband, that it isn't as boring as it sounds. Strange but true - IF you are prepared to appreciate the game for what it is. Test cricket, particularly, is a game of strategy, and it can be strangely addictive to watch, particularly when it is your national team. Unfortunately this year Australia is losing its grip as top international team. South Africa is flogging them, and despite being disappointed in the performance of our batters AND bowlers, you have to admire the way SA is playing.

Around our place, you know it's Boxing Day (and the few days following), when you've been for a swim at the beach, you're back home, kicking back on the lounge, and the Boxing Day test is on the telly. Cricket on the telly (and the radio) is just synonymous with summer.

Mind you, I'll be kind of glad when today is over. Five days is enough of monopolising the TV from 10.30 am through till stumps at 6pm. (Today it'll be over before 'tea'. Well done South Africa. They take this, the second out of three tests, and therefore the series. They have totally outplayed the Aussies, and it is a deserved win.)


Now.. to address jerseechik's other question. What are lashings? Just "lots". An abundance of. Again of British origin. It's not an expression I actually use that often. Must have been having an Enid Blyton moment! (Please tell me you have heard of Enid Blyton!)


Do you North Americans recall the Paul Hogan 'shrimp on the barbie' ads of the 1980s? As this wikipedia article accurately states, we call them prawns here, not shrimp! Cold, cooked king prawns have become a very common feature of Christmas lunches here ... and so that's what we had on Christmas day.

In Sydney you'd be queued up at the fishmarkets to buy them, but we ordered a kilo and a half from a local seafood distributor, and picked them up on Christmas Eve. Easy and yum (unless you are Caitlin, who salivates, instead, over potato salad.) Sometimes Marc will peel them for us, but this year Ali and I let him off. Time for Ali to learn how to peel a prawn!

We did actually buy a few green prawns as well, threw them in some marinade, and chucked them on the barbie for dinner that night. A very seafoody Christmas. Quite appropriate for summer holidays, beachside


This morning we had our best beach time yet. Sunny blue skies, clear water, and good waves to surf. So clear, in fact, that some other people on the beach spotted a Wobbegong shark, and warned us about it. We watched its shadow meandering further down the beach, then popped back in for another dip. Apparently they don't eat much!


Monday, December 29, 2008


And so that was Christmas.

Well here we are nearly at the end of 2008. Christmas has been and gone, and, because I set out specifically to have a stress-free Christmas, there are quite a few things that haven't been done. Yet. Meh. Oh well. At some point I'll have to make those Christmas cakes. And finish sending out my christmas emails, get some of those 'Happy Holiday' photos printed for the luddites, and finish up our annual webpage 'blurb'. And get some sort of voucher sent to nephews on both sides.

Very slack. But I don't suppose the world will end.

Given that we had no visitors, and didn't go visiting, and I'm not a yee-ha Christmassy person anyway, Christmas day for us was pretty low key. Kind of weird, really. But very definitely stress-free. I flatly refused to stress about anything. We trimmed the lunch menu yet again this year. For just the five of us we really didn't need to go the whole typical Aussie christmas cold buffet-style spread. We had a ham. We had prawns. Potato salad, and a garden salad. (And Marc talked me into sharing a bottle of bubbly.)

Santa might have brought a few things for the girls, but he didn't bring me the sparkly blue-sky beach day I really hoped for. Nonetheless, after a decadent breakfast of flapjacks a la Tracey (ie. oversized pikelets from my tried and true pikelet recipe) with maple syrup and lashings of butter) we headed down to the beach for a late morning/midday swim.

Again, Santa obviously decided I hadn't been quite good enough.


Seaweed is one of my two major (irrational) phobias (the other being wet (and detached-from-the-head) hairs... yep, I know, I'm weird). I got wet. I caught a couple of waves, but then I stepped in a clump or two of seaweed, and there were smaller bits all through the waves. I jumped and screamed like a girlie and made for the shore. The rest of the family had a fine time, and have milked my wussiness for all it's worth since.

I wandered around and tried to take a couple of photos.

But I am not as artistic with a camera in my hand as my eldest daughter is...

And, there were lots of People on our beach! This...

... is crowded for our beach. This is what we call lots of people on our beach. It only gets this bad on Christmas Day, and a few days into new year. It was a bit hard not to feel really indignant. Our Beach had been invaded! I mean, just because it's Christmas... Sheesh!

[Are we spoilt? Yes. Very!]

The weather - even on Thursday - has mostly been overcast - not your typical summery beachy weather. Since Boxing Day we've had persistent north-easterlies, which haven't made for the most pleasant conditions, and it mucks up the main beach because it faces east. This morning we woke to blue skies and the wind had dropped. We headed back over to the back beach, on the south side of the headland where the surf wasn't so chopped up! The water was cold! (North Easterlies, for some reason, tend to dredge up colder currents - the opposite to what you might expect in the southern hemisphere.) But the waves were pretty good; I caught quite a few in, and Cait even commented that I looked like a pro. [Actually she said 'the waves make Mum look like a pro' - which is more a nod to good body-surfing waves than me, but I'll take any form of compliment I can get these days!]

Another week till Marc goes back to work, and so we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed for a bit more beachy weather. Most people pay to go to the seaside for their summer holidays. Here we have a fantastic beach on our back doorstep. All we need is for the weather to come to the party!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Season's Greetings.

Merry Christmas from our little slice of heaven downunder.


Monday, December 22, 2008


They tell me it's nearly Christmas

In a reckless spurt of Yuletide enthusiasm, some days ago, I began the procedure for my mini christmas cakes - one of the few really Christmassy things that I do.

The ingredients have been sitting on the bench - like so - for more than a week now. (Covered of course) As usual I have it all a*** about. You are supposed to soak the fruit and nuts in brandy overnight, and then let the cakes (brushed with honey and drizzled with brandy, and individually wrapped) sit for two weeks.

It is only three days till Christmas and I haven't made them yet. Maybe today. And hopefully they will be 'brandified' enough this way. Hmmm.


I bit the bullet and invited some people round for dinner on Saturday night. Our kids are friends - their oldest of three girls are good mates with our youngest two girls. They moved here about a year ago, and the kids quickly became good friends - and both families have enjoyed the kids having friends just round the corner. It has only taken me that long to invite them round. When I think about it, they are possible the only people I've invited round in that time. Why? Because the house is such a mess and I was embarrassed. Needless to say it was the catalyst for a bit of cleaning up. The windows are so clean now! It is like a Christmas present to myself to be able to see out of them. (But - only just this morning I heard a thud, and looked up in time to see a dazed rainbow lorikeet flying away. That hasn't happened for a while... there are some benefits to salt-spray coated windows. Also I don't tend to stop in my tracks and gaze outside admiring the clear view of the backyard.)

The girls were told they had to clean up the playroom, or no Christmas tree, so - woo hoo - that got done. (Plus Zoe's swimming costume turned up, as I knew it would.) They also uncovered some toys and bits and pieces they obviously hadn't sighted for some months. I have a great idea for Christmas next year. Santa doesn't need to get them anything. They can just have a big clean-up, and they'll have all this "new" stuff for this year's Christmas.

[Marc also wryly suggested last night that we just wrap up the surfboard we gave them last Christmas and give it to them again, as it barely got used last summer.]

A Recycled Christmas. Do you think it could catch on?


Marc has had to go away for work for three days - arriving back on Christmas Eve. He tossed up between an 8 hour drive each way, or a couple of regional plane flights (plus a 1 hr 30 min drive). He opted for the planes. Same amount of elapsed travel time, but theoretically not as stressful. He left early this morning for the 6.30 plane out of Coffs to Sydney - from where he would transfer to a regional carrier to Dubbo. (Then hire a car.) At around 9.00 he rang me. At Sydney he had been called to the baggage service counter; they had left his bag in Coffs! How they can manage to forget to load a bag onto the one small plane at the airport at the time is beyond anyone's guess. Qantas say they will courier it to him - in Mudgee. Too bad about the work equipment he had in it for the work he needed to get a start on this afternoon.


Meantime, I suppose I should get happening on some more Christmas-like action today. Ya think? Like taking our 'traditional' family christmas photo. Yep. We are this late with it this year - and even later due to overcast weather for a few days that was not conducive to optimum artistic photography. The sun is shining now, however, so I should go and wake Ms 15 (what? - it's only 11am!)... and we should head for the beach. (Yes, time for another beachy Christmas photo... stay tuned.)

I am determined to waft through these last few days with minimum stress. I've resigned myself to one more trip to the shops. I am supposed to order or buy some seafood. And I have a $60 ham to pick up this year ordered from a butcher. A leg of ham is a bit of an Australian Christmas 'thing' - but don't get me started on the typical Aussie Christmas dinner right now - I'll save that for another post. It is just the five of us at home here for Christmas Day (all relatives are far flung - we decided not to travel, and the relos rarely put themselves out to travel to us at this time of year...). To me a fancy Christmas lunch for just us is somewhat contrived, but I guess we will lash out on some prawns and calamari for the bbq (that four of us will eat), and try and think of something a bit special for Fusspot 15. And hope for sunny Aussie Christmas beach weather.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Conspiracy theories.

I have a new theory on teenagers (and tweenagers for that matter.) They have invisible gremlin-type "friends" (along the lines of Drop Dead Fred) who gradually assert their mischievousness with ever increasing audacity as the teenage years progress. Who else makes the mess, misplaces stuff, forgets to put dirty clothes out, accumulates bath towels in the bedroom, and is responsible for the chocolate and lolly wrappers discovered, by Mum, under the bed. And who must have put that dirty plastic cup with chocolate milk remnants IN the bedside table drawer. NOT the teenager, apparently.

Backtracking a bit to the early formulation of my theory, here's an example. Ms 15 cannot find her black netball skirt. She huffs and puffs about it each Tuesday as if it is the fault of She Who Does The Laundry. SHDTL, by the way, is unmoved. Well, that part isn't hard, when the room of Ms 15, until recently looked like this:

Then, when Ms 10 couldn't find her swimming costume (before swimming squad) yesterday, Ms 15 also commented that she was missing a couple of pairs of blue undies, as well as the netball skirt. "I tell you, things go missing in this place." she says.

When Ms 15 was out today I decided to go looking for "things" in her room, and happened to look under the bed. OM effing G. There was a lot of "stuff" under there. Including the aforementioned litter. And dirty underwear. (Unfortunately not the blue ones.) And a truckload of dirty tissues. Several water bottles. And other stuff. Like a jigsaw puzzle, for instance.

Her fault?! Of course not. The "oh my goodness, how the hell did that all get there?" look on her face would have been priceless if I wasn't so bloody annoyed. She cannot imagine how the dirty underwear got there - she hasn't worn those for ages. (I cannot even bear to go so far as to give you the description of the dirty underwear... and I couldn't bring myself to take a photo of the pile of under-bed detritus that I left for her to clean up on the floor.) And seeing she doesn't wea them anymore, she should just throw them out, right? She also can't imagine how the dirty cup got there - in the drawer?!! Just plain weird, that one.

Of the four (4) towels hanging around the room, one had an orange stain on it. The 'child' who paints in her bedroom insists that it isn't paint, and she cannot imagine what it could possibly be, or how it got there.

After giving her some time to clean up, I went upstairs and looked in on her. Ok, so the rubbish was cleared (but not yet out in the bin) She was sitting on her bedroom floor doing the jigsaw puzzle. As you do, when your mother has just called you home and given you a lecture about the disgusting crap under your bed. And then you roll your eyes and wonder why in heaven's name your mother is just a bit stroppy. After all, she is innocent, and so Mum has no grounds for being cranky. Right?

So it's gremlins, patently.

OK, well, if not gremlins, then it is an orchestrated plan by the three of them to send me insane.

Yesterday when I got back from driving Ms 10 to swimming - in her beach bikini, seeing the one-piece was still MIA (as a tweenager, she isn't as adept at the 'must be SWDTL innuendo' strategy ) - I discovered that Ms 13 had decided to bake shortbread biscuits as presents for her friends. (Instead of cards, you see, which I support in theory. But...)

She is my competent one in the kitchen (moreso than her older sister - after all, she can break an egg, while Ms 15 still refuses to do so...) - however time management is still not a strong point. Within minutes of me arriving home, she actually had to be ready for a lift to netball, and this is the kitchen bench I was left with:

With that tray waiting to go in the oven. Ah, and with one tray IN the oven - with 10 minutes to go on the timer. (Lucky I noticed THAT, given that shortbread takes only 15 minutes, and she was going to be gone for over 2 hours.)

Lots of room for Mum to prepare dinner. NOT.

Probably Fred, the Gremlin, made her do it.

Either that, or the three of them are plotting to slowly nudge me over the edge into a breakdown.


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Friday, December 12, 2008


Amused, bemused, irritated and inspired.

Christmas shopping yesterday. Shops a lot more crowded than Tuesday. Wonder why... Did people suddenly realise it was only 15 sleeps till Christmas? Or were they out spending the $1000 per child Rescue the Economy bonus from the government that landed in everyone's accounts this week?

Sometimes people watching is the only thing that keeps me sane in the throngs.

Overheard- "Oh! There's my stepfather with another woman!"

Unfunny: the toddler in stroller in Big W checkout line, ringing a bell (much like Santa does when he walks through the shopping centre, only he is moving, and this kid is not. Nor am I, I am trapped in the queue not far away, and if I was any closer I'd have mentioned to the parents with the self indulgent smiles on their faces that IT WAS NOT FUNNY OR CUTE AT ALL.

Also not funny: Mournful Toddler Bellowing in a bookshop. Yes, I know he was probably tired, so for god's sake, take him out and take him home. The bookshop lost potential custom because I left.

Inspiring: Two teenage dudes - with the requisite current hair fashion with sort of rats tails - who plonked down near me in the food court. (While I was scoffing a donut with my coffee.) What would you guess a couple of "cool" teenage guys would eat in a food court? Wrong. They each had a huge tub of ... fruit salad. [I felt so shamed, I wrapped up the second of my donuts and took it home.]


I am not doing too well on the christmas shopping. The idea of flitting around and picking up everything in one day is all very well in theory. Just not working out in practice. Help.

Monday, December 08, 2008



My right eye is twitching. I wonder what that means. Probably proof that I am losing control completely.

It's barely two weeks till Christmas, and I still haven't bought a thing. Actually, that's not true - I've ordered a ham and left a $10 deposit on it. That's all. I don't feel like buying anything - wasting money on stuff that I *think* they will like, but will not end up being used. ("Oh, but it's fun to open all those presents!") So I know I must. I would be a bad mother if I didn't. Then again, I am totally sucking at being a parent right now, so I could go totally all out and stuff it right up. (Then again, the younger two seem to still love me, so it would be rather insane to jeopardise that. Nervous breakdown on hold?)

No, I can't really talk about it here. This blog is neither secret, or blocked (unlike my daughters' MySpace), nor anonymous, and at some point, when they are teenagers, it is no longer appropriate to turn their antics and attitudes into blog fodder, much as I need to dump.

I am doing a pretty good job of saying and doing the wrong thing though, is all.

Moving along...

I finished up the TAFE course last week. I did get some good feedback on my writing portfolio from the Language teacher: "Your writing is of an excellent standard. It is very "polished", highly readable and most enjoyable. .. An approach to a publish would be in order..."

That kept me going for a day, until I fell into self doubt again. One piece of writing she particularly liked was a piece I wrote about our cross country ski weekend. Then Marc made a comment about how not everyone had the necessary experience to ski off the groomed trails like we did. It left me feeling that it could be irresponsible to write about the stuff we like to do... because with a lot of what we do, you need some experience and ability. In our case it is mostly Marc's. Experience, ability, and confidence.

I have been looking at this online course . Is it worth the $395?

I don't trust my judgement in anything anymore.


Monday, December 01, 2008


Off the face of the earth.

Well, no, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I just can't get out from underneath the avalanche of retail store catalogues that engulf my letterbox each day. (And I thought it was the digital age... hah.... Bloody Christmas....)

Seriously? Blogging has just taken a back seat - as I threatened - throughout the latter part of the year. Counter productive, really, as I will have lost what small readership I actually had. And writing keeps rearing its ugly head as one of the things I want to do, so it has made no sense to back off, really.

It has been a time of trying to reinvent myself - work out who I am and what I want to be. (*gag*) Actually it's been more like leaving what small amount of course work I had to do till the last minute, then panicking and getting stressed about it. As always with it I turn molehills into mountains, aim for a higher quality than I need to (for a Certificate II course), and can't get past the reality vs 'pretend just for the exercise' parts. (So the last things I am stressing over are a resume and an application letter...)

I am riding the 'what to do when I grow up' rollercoaster in the funpark of life. One minute on a high, and full of boundless enthusiasm- with the track mapped out ahead of me (and propped up by wonderful analogies of only needing to look ahead to the next station, or checkpoint- can you tell I went to see the TAFE careers counsellor?). Next thing I'm plummeting back down into Reality Check land. And 'I Could Never Be THAT Good' Valley.

And, as we all know, roller coaster rides usually take you back round to where you started, and I feel as if that's where this course has taken me. Right back to the insecurities that I had when I started. Why make me research job descriptions for potential (slightly pie in the sky) jobs? I'm a good enough googler these days to manage to uncover a mass of opinion out there, and of course I am very good at taking everything I read to heart, despite the fact that I know it is someone else's OPINION only.

Quite a bit of the self confidence spilt out of that brim-full glass somewhere along the way ...

Anyhows, I have applied to do a one year (Certificate IV) course in Information Technology- Website Design. Which should take care of next year. And hopefully equip me with enough skillz to at least be able to say "I can build/design websites. Wanna pay me?" And as an adjunct I want to pick up some tips and/or tuition in Freelance Writing. And anything else I can think of...

Meanwhile, the house has been going yet further into rack and ruin, and I keep thinking "Once the course is over I'll get on top of that." Yeah, right.

The family, throughout, has still been fed and watered, and clothes washed (though not necessarily sorted and very definitely not ironed - I iron as needed anyway...) Have been floundering around and getting D's at best in Parenting of Teenagers 101. Eldest daughter has decided we are the world's most unreasonable and overprotective parents - and her view is reflected in assumptions made about how we will view ANYTHING. Never mind that she has just spent 5 nights away in Sydney to participate in the Schools Spectacular. We are just such bastards like that.

I got to fly down to Sydney to go see the show - just this last weekend - and had three nights at my parents'. It was good to have a few days away from the house and all those depending on me to decide what to have for dinner, and to magically (and eventually) ensure that the dishes are clean... But I have come back with a cricked neck (I blame the spare bedding/pillow arrangement at my parents' house) - and so it is off to the chiropractor yet again for me in the morning. There is always something annoying wrong with me. When I got back yesterday I was motivated to tackle some vacuuming of this disgusting house, but that energy seems to have worn off today. Somehow.

With one thing and another, I haven't done much exercise, and it is showing - both visually, and in my head.

And I haven't done a bloody thing for Christmas. I wonder if I could get away with ignoring it altogether...


Monday, November 10, 2008


A Christmas Challenge.

I haven't yet started on my traditional Christmas season rant.. (it is only NOVEMBER after all, and I flatly refuse to think about Christmas until December.) Though with the shops starting to fill again with glittery red, green, gold and silver manufactured crap "Stuff", the hackles have been rising.. and frankly, the despair beginning to ooze into the very fibre of my being.

Soooo much waste. Sooo much junk. Sooo much money spent on stuff we throw away. Or just don't need. Rampant materialism gone mad.

Oh, I know for many, the decorations and stuff raise their spirits and make them happy. I envy you guys. It's so much harder being me at Christmas time. I simply can't get into it... and I'm getting worse. You'd think I might mellow with age, but I'm hardening up.

That said, I do treat it as a time to 'touch base' with friends... (More the end of a year than Christmas, to be perfectly honest. It just happens to coincide!) I have done the homemade card thing ever since Marc and I hitched our lives together to become our own little family unit. With the advent of email and then my ability to construct a webpage, it was a natural progression for the greenie within to transition from extreme paper wastage to an electronic transmission of our end of year greeting, in photo format. Just about always accompanied by a blurb, because nothing frustrates me more than getting a christmas card from someone I haven't managed to keep tabs on during the year AND THEY DON'T TELL ME WHAT THEY'VE BEEN UP TO!

I send out very limited christmas cards now; if you have email, then you aren't likely to get a card from me. And the card is usually just the photo - referring those who actually want to read 'a year in the lives of' to the webpage I do up. Even so... I sigh (and wish they had email!)

And... this is very very harsh.. but sending me a card with just a 'To' and a 'From'... is frankly, just a waste of money. And paper. Unless you are going to send me a newsy letter. (I'm not against snail mail itself, just *wasted* snail mail.)

So naturally I was very taken with Misc Mum's Christmas Card Challenge. I have been on her snail mail Christmas Card list in the past [She was a very organised card sender, and hers would usually be first to arrive, before December! and I was all NOOOOOOO! Not Christmas YET! What are you doing to me girl! ] and so I am extreeeeeemely chuffed that, instead, the sort of money she would have wasted on an ingrate like me is going to go to a far more worthy cause.
Presuming I would still have made her Christmas card list this year ;-) I can feel happy that a dollar or so is being given to charity instead of wasting it on me.

But that is just her money. And I am thinking Hmmmmm. How do I promote this? Sure, you should go on over to her blog, and be convinced, and then write your own blog post, and spread the word...

But also, I challenge you - and myself - to do something similar, and to donate the money you would have spent to buying something that is of fleeting use and enjoyment (and will end up in landfill) to something that really will make a difference.

So if you were going to send me card... don't! Donate something instead to Karen's fundraiser. (Send me an email instead, mind!)

And I am going to take a very deep breath, and tell my extended family to do the same, with what they would have spent on cards, and chocolates I don't even like. (Given my parents won't do any transactions online, I'm not quite sure how I'm going to go about this... perhaps simply ask them to donate to any charity instead...)

Come on. Let's make a difference.


Saturday, November 08, 2008



Thankfully this week I haven't actually felt like strangling anyone, so there's a plus. (Except for the usual amount of times I get stroppy with the kids, but that's nothing out of the ordinary.) Possibly I've just hit the next stage on the hormonal rollercoaster, with this last week being defined more by introspection than anything else.

My lower back decided last weekend it was time to give me a bit of curry. It does so from time to time for no apparent reason. A chiro visit on Monday helped... but in the early hours of Thursday morning my left arm decided to get in on the act and go the whole nerve-pinching pain thing, so I haven't been on top of the world. A chiro visit yesterday has helped that - but I'm not quite myself again yet. (And I keep thinking that I'm certainly contributing to the chiropractor's superannuation fund, if not a new car or two.) I've not exercised all week because of the back and arm, and so a happy little vegemite I am not.

At TAFE I'm in the process of deciding what to do next year. It's a part of the course I'm doing to do so, but it's also what I need to do anyway. I've applied to do a one year course in Information Technology (Web Design). I *think* it's what I want to do when "I grow up", but I guess I'm not 100% sure. On Thursday I decided to use the counselling service at TAFE - they do careers counselling as well as the personal stuff. Hell, it's free, why not? My first session was helpful - and I'm going back next week. Perhaps she will help me unearth whatever it is within that tells me I can't do stuff - though I'm not completely sure about the airy fairy stuff.

The oldest teenager is doing the girl with the curl thing, and when she's not being good and helpful and lovely, she is being dramatic, and accusative, (and unhelpful) and we are apparently unreasonable and over protective parents who are going to scar her for life because we are following the 'no computers in bedroom' line as advised to parents. And we won't/wouldn't let her go to a party at a town 2 hours away... She doesn't bring friends around here because we are, apparently, Embarrassing, (because I dare to engage her friends in a bit of conversation it seems), her sisters are Annoying and she can't get away from any of us in 'our open plan house', despite the fact that she has her own room. Pardon me for just BEING, and for not having a house with rumpus rooms/separate TV rooms and the like. I'm not sure what palaces her friends live in.

The biggest challenge (and preoccupation) at the moment is that we are planning a cycling holiday riding, with other tandem acquaintances, down the east coast of Tasmania - next February. Planning and communication with the other parties has to be done online, and that is proving to be ... interesting. I am about to bite the bullet and book our fares on the Spirit of Tasmania - the ferry between the mainland and Tasmania. We are going to drive to Melbourne (2 day drive from here) and then slum it on the ferry. It looks costly, but by the time we weighed up the cost and hassle of plane fares, with camping gear and tandems, extra accommodation for a family of five, and airport shuttles, the overnight ferry experience won out.

Weighing up the pros and cons of shared costs for the ride has been another challenge altogether. However - it looks like it's going to happen, and .. did I mention?... I'm about to make the booking. Today. Sometime. It is exciting and yet daunting all at the same time. I thrive on the planning of something like this, though at the same time it stresses and consumes me. Today I have reached the point where I am saying to Marc 'So? Do I book it?' Point of no return. A financial investment in another family holiday and adventure. I haven't quite done so.. but sometime later today I will. I WILL.

The planning for that will ebb and flow - until it reaches panic stations in February!

Meanwhile I just have to manage the teenage angst, my own angst - and decisions about where I'm heading with the rest of my life...

And finalising the last requirements for this current course. A few pieces of writing, which should be right up my alley, seeing I want to do something with writing to earn a quid or two, yet I am procrastinating over it all nonetheless. (And a First Aid "exam" on Tuesday.)

And Christmas is around the corner, and that stresses me out like not much else can.

I'm not sure where blogging fits into this, but while I work on reinventing myself, I might just need to vent every now and then. (Is it significant that the word "vent" appears in reinvent?)

When I am not venting, I will inevitably be preoccupied.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008


Oh the humanity.

I've had one of those weeks. Not that anything particularly BAD has happened. It just seems to have been a week which has taken me to the edge of empathy and tolerance. A week when a sigh and a "takes all types" just doesn't cut it. It's probably called "people rage".

I'm not the type of person who would usually ever dream of telling someone they were a f*#%wit... but this week I felt *that* close to doing so to someone. Can a woman be called that? If not, then "a stupid, obnoxious b*tch"?

I don't know.. There have been previous things said by this woman that I've let through to the keeper (after a bit of a rant and some eye-rolling at home.)

Then there was Tuesday. Well. I can *just* cope with someone (her) telling another (who was needing my email address to send me stuff to put on the netball website) that I 'send long and complicated emails' (she refers to the time when I had to set up the netball committee with a gmail account, and she is patently someone who can't absorb more than a one-line instruction).....

But when, for the second time in recent history, she insists that a group of teenage girls (of which my middle daughter was one of) MUST automatically be to blame in a situation... then... I get a little .. testy.

I was at the netball clubhouse sorting out some registrations when I got a call on my mobile from my 13 year old. She had been at our local beach with friends. She was upset and blubbering (so that initially I thought someone must have drowned!). I then managed to ascertain that her mobile phone had got wet, and that a certain local boy - let's call him "J" - was involved. The way I heard it through her wailing was that he had thrown her stuff in the water.

To explain the interrupting phone call, I cursed about this "J" throwing her phone in the water, because he and his mate have lately harassed the girls everytime they've gone down to the beach. My daughter has even called me from the beach before because they have taken their gear and hidden them in the bushes before, and thrown their towels in the water, thrown sand at them... and generally been annoying little shits.)

"That woman" I mentioned above said "Who? "J" ?? Oh, he's a lovely kid.. he wouldn't do anything like that. The girls MUST have done something to him first." Huh? Blame the girls immediately? ... wtf?... This sweeping statement follows on from a netball issue a few months back when my daughter's rep team played her team, and at the committee meeting following it I objected to her sweeping statement that "ALL those 13 year old girls KNEW what they were doing.. they were ALL the same..." because I knew that my daughter was actually a bit naive (and not in the clique) - and genuinely not the type to deliberately cheat, or throw a game...)

"Well, that's crap", I said, "he and his mate have been harassing them for a while... taking their gear while they are in the water, and I'm over it... I'll bloody call his parents...."

"Well, good luck with that" she says. "Watch your back. I wouldn't tangle with his father."


"Well that says it all", I said. "If the father is like that, then no wonder the kid is a little dickhead."

And I had to therefore wonder about her intelligence, never mind her blatant assumption about "girls" (AGAIN) never mind her apparent need to give her immediate opinion (about MY daughter, as it happens) when it wasn't sought in the first place!

If I'd had any presence of mind I might have suggested to her that she must have been a right piece of work as a teenager given the assumptions she jumps to about all 13 year old girls! (As well as asking, anyway, how the hell she was coping with doing nursing at uni, because I'm sure the information she would have to absorb would be a hell of a lot more complicated than a page of instructions giving the log in and password to a gmail account, along with how using google docs online could be used by the committee.... I mean, THAT is like rocket science...)

Fortunately I didn't have the presence of mind to say that, because that would have just made me a b*tch, wouldn't it?

So I was riled up with this woman, and of course I was pretty furious about this "J". As it turned out I hadn't accurately deciphered my daughter's blubberings. What had happened was that at school that day he had threatened to take their stuff if they were at the beach.. so they had decided "prevention" was in order, and put their bags closer to the water than usual. Not taking account of the tide. No "J", but a wave.

An error of judgement by the girls - and particularly Ms 13, who was the only one with a phone in her bag - but spurred on by the threats and harassment nonetheless. And leaving nothing for us to go to the parents with if we chose to ignore the reality that there are unsavoury parents out there.

Her mobile phone is kaput. Which, as you can imagine, led to some rantings by one of the parental units in the house. (Not necessarily me either...)

So I'm a bit miffed with human nature this week.. and the fact that I pretty much have to suck it up, and just vent where I can, because I am not the type to confront people. (Especially if it is just to tell them what I think of them!) And that there are kids whose parents don't care about where they are or what they are doing, and who might well decide to set out on a campaign of harassment if approached when their little darlings impinge on the rights of others...

And then Halloween in our neighbourhood simply showcases this, with gangs of kids roaming the street, using Halloween as an excuse to run riot. This year only one egg made it onto our property - and thankfully not on the actual house this time. But it certainly wrapped up the theme of the week

And of course this week I seem to have come across more fools in cars than I might usually... you might have even seen me blow the horn a few times at someone who kept veering over into my lane....

And the eldest daughter nearly failed her Yr 10 trial school certificate maths, and we ended up with an appointment up at the school, because much of this has to do with the utter uselessness of the teacher, and finally something had to be said. But some of it is down to Ms 15's attitude, and lack of self-motivation to study. And so when her father and I banned the computer so she would have time to do maths, we were called 'unreasonable'.. which then led on to being called over protective parents, because she knew (correctly) that she wouldn't be allowed to go to a Halloween party at a town nearly 2 hours drive away!! (As well as the fact that she has still not been allowed on sleepovers when I don't know the parents...)

And the scariest thing of all, to me, is that there are a significant amount of people in the US who would happily vote in McCain with that woman Palin... to lead the nation that is (perhaps unfortunately) still, ostensibly, the leader of the 'free' world. Heaven help the world.

As I have been reminded this week, it takes all types. Just sometimes that is a very big worry.

[Go to and continue to ease my fears just a little bit! Unfortunately the world will not be voting.]



Sunday, October 26, 2008


In the Mood.

I often have days like this. (And I'm not sure it is either a good thing, or particularly 'normal'.) Usually a weekend day following a busy time. A long awaited 'catch up' day at home that I look forward to so much when we are racing around. There is so much I want to do (and should do) , but when I get here, I am just not in the mood to do any of it.

I huff and sigh and loll around the place, all day, and achieve precisely ... nothing. Well, today I did eventually get a couple of small loads of washing on the line (then I left them out there overnight because I got them out so late they didn't dry! )

I finished reading one of Zoe's books with a bit of a lie-in ... and gave myself a headache from reading without my glasses. (Reading books - even kids' ones - is ok isn't it?)

I read a bit of the paper. (Acceptable too?)

I thought maybe I could blog but the sparkling blog repartee was not forthcoming. Finally tonight I have succumbed to blogging anything rather than nothing because at least I might feel I have done something. (And maybe I'll get comments coming in on the email, which will make me feel just slightly loved... or perhaps just "needy"?...)

Perhaps it is just the trough after the roller coaster ride of busy-ness of our past few weekends. Thursday at TAFE I was feeling as if perhaps my coffee (which I was drinking to try to wake myself up) had been laced with sleeping pills. That overwhelming 'why am I so tired?' feeling that gets compounded when you're in a classroom situation staring at a computer screen.

Getting to bed earlier that night alleviated that feeling a bit (though I can't say I achieved much on Friday)...

The smart move would have been to have a big sleep in on Saturday, but I opted to do the early morning community bike ride - knowing full well that if I didn't commit to it (Marc and I took Cait in with her new road bike and did about 35km on our singles) I wouldn't do any exercise all weekend. At least I know myself well in that department. But what I also know about myself is that a 5am start to the weekend will leave me a bit lethargic and directionless unless I have something that I am already committed to doing and keeping my mind off being 'blah'.

Zoe had two friends sleep the night as a belated birthday treat (she turned 10 last Monday - while still in Sydney and being spoilt rotten by Grandma.) This was a big first for her - we are not too big on the whole sleepover thing. I kept it fairly low key and casual, and with one of her friends pronouncing at 9.30 that she was soooo tired because she is usually in bed at around 7.00!!, all three were in bed and apparently asleep by 10.30 when I went up to bed. No giggling, or silliness, or keeping me awake half the night, so I can hardly blame that for my lethargy.

Well, anyway.. tomorrow's another day... and another week begins (in which I have the opportunity to pull myself together and work out how to be more productive.)

My scar.. by the way.. is healing well. ("My scar".. she says... well, I don't really have any other 'battle scars' so I am quite taken with this one.)... It is amazing how the body heals in the space of two weeks.

This was how it looked a couple of days after getting the stitches. (The yellow being betadine, rather than outrageous bruising as I suspect people might have thought given the reactions I got at the time.) I am kind of disappointed now that I didn't get a photo of it pre-stitching. Being on the end of my elbow, I only have the reactions of my kids (and the first aider) to go by with how it looked at the time. Somehow photography wasn't high on the agenda at the time!)

And this is how it looks tonight.

(Aren't elbows funny things to look at?)



Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Ticked THAT box.

Around The Bay in a Day. A 210km bike ride around Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne to Melbourne.

There and back from home in five days.

On Friday we drove to Sydney with the kids (around 600km).. left them with the grand-parentals, dismantled the tandem and packed it up into an extended cardboard bike box (ok, so my beloved Bike Mechanic did most of that tricky stuff)... got up early Saturday morning, drove to the airport, kissed the bike goodbye into the oversize baggage section, picked it up in Melbourne, caught a Maxi Taxi to the motel, put it all back together again, did a 12km return test ride in 30+ degrees through the centre of Melbourne.....

..... got up at some very ungodly hour (ie. 4.30am), rode back through the city centre to the start...

did the ride....

.... and pretty much did it all again in reverse (from the dismantling of the bike bit) to get home again last night.

Fortunately the weather gods sort of smiled on us... instead of heat (it was 30 degrees on the Saturday - and 38 degrees for the same ride last year!) we got a cold southerly - so the temperature didn't get above 18 degrees! (talking Celsius here...).... The downside was that riding along the edge of the bay wasn't as picturesque or pleasant as it might have been on a mild and sunny spring day.

We did it all without too much trouble .. (unless you count my body sabotaging me - I ask you, is it fair for a woman's body to betray her by giving her 'that time' just in time for the next marathon bike ride only three weeks after the last time (and last marathon cycling effort...)???)

Total riding time, about 8 hours. First hour was painfully slow, riding in a big bunch of people from the start - I think we only managed to get about 5km in the first 3/4 of an hour. And we got a puncture about 20km into it! After that we didn't stop too many times, though loo stops were a priority, and by the end my bum had pretty much had enough.

Generally there weren't as many slow and erratic riders as on the Brisbane-Gold Coast ride, so we didn't feel quite as paranoid as we.. I.. might have after the previous weekend! Mind you, we had one near miss when some bystanders with a dog on an extendable leash let the dog rush the curb, only pulling it up at the gutter. There were more than a few 'whoas' in the group we were riding in.

We only heard later about the deliberate injury of bike riders on their way to the ride by some drunk b******s in a car. And the other accident.

Otherwise, we felt that Melbourne drivers were far more courteous than Sydney (or Coffs/Pacific Highway) drivers - I guess they are, in general, far more used to bikes; we were amazed by all the bike lanes, even right through the centre of the city!

I think I'm looking pretty happy to have finished it, although I knew (after a well-earned beer!) I had to climb back on and ride the 6 km back to the motel!

Strangely today I am still feeling a bit weary. Can't imagine why.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008



We had a stack.

All 5 of us, both bikes (and a handful of jellybeans) splattered all over the road.

All had been going well with the Brissy to Gold Coast ride. We were about half way - I had been just about to announce the 50km mark to the girls. We'd had a great ride along the dedicated bus lanes out of the city - which had been closed off to buses for the bikes. Lovely smooooth road surface, and the only ups didn't even require the granny ring.

As we got further along, we then detoured onto the service roads that run alongside the motorway, and then some loops on back roads.

After stuffing around with loos, and refilling water at the previous rest stop, we found ourselves riding among slower (and less experienced) riders. You can tell them by the more erratic way they ride along the road. Should have known better. We came up behind a group, Marc was chatting to some guy beside him about the 29 inch wheels on his bike, and I was riding behind him. (We'd lost him in the mêlée of the start, so hadn't managed to actually do much drafting up till then.) We were humming along this flat country road at around 28kph... and I could tell Marc would shortly endeavour to find a way around this group of slower riders spread out across the road.

Suddenly it all went to hell. In a split second, the triple wobbled, then went down, because the girl in front of them - and we're talking right in the middle of the road here - hit the brakes HARD . Because her PEDAL FELL OFF! (We're talking el cheapo K-mart type bike here - probably never been serviced....) (What about coasting, calling out, "stopping"... that sort of thing? )

Marc had nowhere to go - she seemed to go left, so he tried to go right, but then she angled back in front of him. He clipped her wheel, and down they went.

And because I was riding his wheel I had nowhere to go. I could see it happening in front of me, but there was nothing I could do about it. I had barely enough time to register the shock of seeing them fall in front of me (because Marc is pretty competent at handling a bike.)

Then the awful realisation that I couldn't avoid them.

*Crash*....we went down. Bikes and bodies all over the road. Zoe sandwiched between the two bikes, as the tandem had landed on top of her... and crying that 'ow! owwww! owwwwwwwwwww!' cry that sends a mother's heart into panic.

Dazed, we scrambled up, hauled the bike off her, and limped with bikes to the edge of the road. I was concerned about Zoe, but vaguely noticed blood dripping down my left forearm from my elbow.

Marc was relatively unscathed, so he assumed first aider role - thankfully we were carrying our own first aid kit. Mothers patently make shocking patients when their kids are involved, because I kept telling him to look after each of the kids, when it turned out that I had the worst injury - a nasty gash on my elbow - which to him looked a bit drastic, though he decided not to enlighten me too much at the time. He got a wound dressing out, and bound it up. Cait had corked her hip/thigh, and struggled to walk, but didn't feel she'd broken anything. Zoe couldn't quite decide which of her legs hurt, but settled on a twisted ankle on one. All of us had various grazes and bruises already coming up. On my left leg, blood from gravel rash mixed with grease - and I'd also grazed a mole there. Errgh....

Plus a little bit of shock all round.

Official help was all but useless other than the moral support of the highway patrol motorbike cop. We figured we probably wouldn't need an ambulance, but were a bit nonplussed when one came along, and informed the cop that they only stop if they need to take anyone to hospital. Noone bothered to check us out themselves. (Even the cop was nonplussed about that...) Some riders, and a woman in a car, did stop, and she gave us some old towels, and pulled jackets out of our panniers to keep us a bit warm. Other than that, noone else had first aid stuff, and no gloves, so were unwilling to touch us because of the blood! All in all, we were pretty lucky Marc was ok to tend us all.

A bike mechanic guy also stopped, but Marc had all the gear we needed for that. The sag wagon was notified, and we knew it was on its way. While we hated the thought of not being able to finish the ride, none of us girls were in a fit condition to finish (Perhaps I would have been stupid enough to had I not had the girls to consider ... although my elbow was hurting enough to make me realise that steering a bike would be a bit difficult.) Our tandem would fit in the trailer on the sag wagon, but the triple would be pushing it - plus Marc is always antsy about it being scratched, not that it didn't now have a couple of dings in it. The pannier rack was skewed where we hit it...and he's yet to do a proper check on what else might be damaged on it. He had to tinker with the brakes to get it working ok when he decided to ride it on by himself to the next checkpoint and meet us there - at least another 20km or so.

The girls and I were finally deposited at the checkpoint by the sag wagon, and we headed for the first aiders. I asked them to look at the girls first - though Cait kept saying "Mum, you go first, you're worse!" 'I'm right, you girls first" , I said, but she pushed me into the seat before her. Then the girl took off the wound dressing Marc had put on my elbow, and said immediately "That'll need stitches" - while the girls gasped in horror at the sight of it. Kind of glad I couldn't see it myself.

Marc arrived, and we decided that the logical thing to do was for him to get a cab the nearest train station and head back to Southbank to collect the car. It was a long and tedious wait there at Coomera State School - just behind Dreamworld - and the girls were taunted with the sounds of the rides there (Their boring parents have been too tight and too obsessed with bloody bike riding to take them to the theme parks!)

During our wait, Alison and Zoe finally wandered off to the playground, which allayed many of my concerns about how injured they might have been. Cait was sore but stoic.

Marc got back and we got the bikes onto the car, and headed for the Gold Coast by car, still a bit shell shocked and basically spewing that we'd come all this way, invested money in petrol, accommodation, etc, and we weren't finishing the damn ride. Brought undone by an inexperienced rider on a crap bike, basically. We've tried to rationalise it as the risk you take participating in these mass rides... Mind you, it really did rub salt into the wounds to have to drive past the Finish point on the way to the hospital.

A lesson learned regarding riding amongst so many people. It made me wonder whether the mass rides are a good idea, but you do them to take advantage of road closures (and thus a certain degree of separation and protection from vehicles!)

I'd steeled myself for a potentially long wait at Emergency, but good fortune had a 24 hour medical centre just across the road from the hospital. I was seen there pretty much immediately. "Now I have to warn you that you will have a scar", said the doctor. "Not worried." I said. (My husband knows me well. When I told him the doc said that, he said 'You'd be cheesed off if you didn't get a scar out of this! At least you'll have something to show from the day. Battle scars. The rest of them won't.

So we are all healing, and the vivid replaying of the accident over and over in my head is abating. Marc, to his delight, discovered that he did get a couple of grazes after all. On his butt (and in his bum crack! - so he's a bit limited in the sympathy stakes..)

Today I can finally bend up my arm enough so as to be able to do my bra up by myself, so things are looking up. And of course my main worry was being able to ride this weekend in Melbourne, what with the air fares and accommodation booked for that. Heel of my left hand is a bit bruised, but I'll be ok on the back of the tandem. (I'll have to be!) Stitches supposed to come out on Sunday will have to be removed on Monday. Chiro appointment for Cait (and me) tomorrow. The younger two have already been back at netball and swimming, so they have come up ok.

Back on the bike, for me and Marc at least. I'm not too sure how the girls are going to feel about doing so - but as I've just ordered $450 worth of matching cycling jerseys for us all, they may not have a choice! We breed and raise 'em tough around here.


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Friday, October 10, 2008



We are heading off tomorrow for Sunday's 100km ride - Brisbane to the Gold Coast, "Southbank to Southport". Cross your fingers for us that the weather holds - mind you, it'd be typical for it to rain. It seems to do so every time I venture into Queensland. Some goblin somewhere obviously just likes to hear me do a rant along the lines of 'So much for "Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next" (Ok, so that link is from the Sunshine Coast, a bit further north of where we are headed.. but it has to be one of the most overused slogans there ever was!)

As it is, the forecast is for 'a shower or two'. Wonderful!

The kids will miss the first day back at school on Monday - and then it's back into the madness. I've not overdone it this week at all (feeling quite guilty that I haven't done much in the way of exercise. I am blaming the big overdose from the first weekend, and the anticipation of this Sunday's effort. (Not to mention the intended 210km the following weekend!)

The kids have had the 'dagging around' holiday they were all so wistful about when we dragged them off cross country skiing in July.. a fairly reasonable mix of slothing about home, and hanging with friends.

Caitlin got all artistic:

Tonight Alison found her mp3 player. She mentioned last week that she 'didn't know where it was' ... and, callous mother that I am, I did the 'lalalalalalalala' thing, because I really, really didn't want to know that she had been careless/taken it to school and lost it/left it somewhere to be stolen.... The kid has a bit of a track record with 'careless' - and 'vagueness'. I also didn't want her father to hear, because then things get very NOISY, to no avail, because when she gets upset, she is even less likely to remember what the hell she might have done with it. With her, I prefer to go with the 'it'll turn up' M.O. to save myself unnecessary stress.

So .... tonight when they were packing for the car trip, things got a bit tense because, obviously, she was going to wish she had her mp3 player. A suggestion was made to look in the pouch behind the passenger seat in the car.


When was it left there? Oh, only back when we did the 100 mile ride. Like, August.


And these holidays will be remembered forever after as the time Zoe finally decided she does like riding her own bike after all. Getting her to ride around by herself (like most normal kids her age) has been a bit like pulling teeth. - and we've not made much progress in that department in
two years! I pushed things along a bit yesterday by organising for a friend of hers to bring her bike when she came to play yesterday. It took till after lunch for Zoe to agree to give it a go... but somewhere, sometime during the afternoon, something changed. Today she asked "Can I ride my bike?" I tried not to sound too excited when I said "YES!". And she spent most of the day on it.

It had to happen one day.

Well, guess I'd better go pack a few things, and get to bed.


Thursday, October 09, 2008


Next purchase?

My husband wants to get us one of these:

Hah... only kidding. (Well, over my dead body, anyway... I may be crazy, but I am not that crazy.)

What he really wants is one of these:

(Image nicked from here)

It is a Rans Screamer Recumbent Tandem. Apparently it goes fast. (Figure that out from the name, much?) And is comfortable.

It gets reviews like this: (A sign a convert has considered putting up on the back of the captain's seat for 'guest' stokers:)

"Warning: Persons unused to riding recumbents are hereby warned that riding on this bicycle may lead to a compulsion to go out and buy your own recumbent. Management assumes no responsibility for dents to your budget that arise from riding on this bicycle. "

and this:

"If you don't want to buy this bike, do NOT let your stoker take a ride on one."

I've never ridden a recumbent - Marc has had a quick go on a couple. (Mind you, he failed spectacularly to even get moving on one he had a quick try of the other day - the kids were in hysterics - "My god, Dad can't do something!!!!" ) But those who do are absolute converts.

So I told him, OK, I'd have a go on one. Given it'd be a bit of a challenge to find one to test ride in Australia, I'm pretty safe, but with this husband, you just never know.


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