Friday, September 29, 2006


Some days are better than others...

If I could ignore the before school issues with HRH Princess Petulant [not cleaning teeth and lying about it; not making herself lunch; refusing to drink the milk again; not getting up in time to do all of the above before having to make the bus] then today was a good day.

Second day running I made healthy sandwiches for the younger two, with their agreement. Healthy lunches.. go me. Two out of three aint bad.

The building designer must have felt the whingeing vibes from that post, and called the next day - so today I went in with the house plans to talk to him. Some positive ideas, and a plan of attack.

I do wonder if perhaps I am a bit crazy, but I spent more than a few minutes, and some money, shopping around for red and white crepe paper streamers so that we can look like true Swans AFL supporters tomorrow.

And I have swimming this afternoon, so I should feel even better after that, even if I will hate it while I'm doing it!

And Marc will be home tomorrow!

(I had better do some cleaning tonight.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Fighting over food...

Just goes to show you can never sit back and pat yourself on the back for a job well done with this parenting lark. Even if we do say so ourselves, Marc and I always thought we'd done a pretty good job with bringing up our kids to eat well. In many aspects they still do us credit, but it's the eldest, now a teenager, who is causing us great angst - over eating!

As babies, and toddlers, all three were brilliant.. and would put visiting children to shame, with their ability to eat most normal things. I didn't carry on too long with the separate meals thing - they were pretty quickly indoctrinated into the mushed up, then chopped up version of the family meal. No way was I going to cook two meals in one night, thank you. God, compared to what some parents were going through, we were cruising - and put it down to a combination of good luck, and just a little bit of good management. Our 'no dessert unless you've eaten your main', and 'mealtime drink=water' rules were even frowned upon by my parents as being overtly strict, and deliberately flaunted by them while our backs were turned. How bizarre to feel criticised by the grandparents for being on the strict side, but that's how it was, and still is.

Apart from that sort of thing, though, we never got too carried away with being healthy eating nazis. Everything in moderation. Plus, being a bit slacko myself, I've always been more partial to nice fresh white bread than the grainy bread. I used to swear by whole milk as well- for the taste - until I weaned myself off it and now just about gag if I have to have whole milk in my coffee or cereal. and I force myself to eat vegetables because I know they are good for me. (I could never be a vegetarian!)

My kids have grown up slim and healthy, but a combination of general publicity about healthy eating (the fight against obesity), and my own struggle to lose a mere 10kg to bring me back to an appropriate weight for my height, has led me to be trying to guide the family's eating habits in the right direction. There is a lot you can get away with when you are young and active, but it's not a bad idea to enter adulthood with good nutrition habits.


I did read in a magazine recently (where they were talking about children over 2 not needing whole milk anymore) that you should introduce changes when they are young, because it's very hard to change established eating habits when they are older.

My wordy me, yes. Especially when you have a feisty, bloody minded, 13 year old.

It's already bad enough that she has changed from the super-eater she was as a toddler, to a pain in the neck who has an increasing menu of vegetables that she won't eat, and will do anything she can to avoid eating them.

Her younger sisters suggest eating the ones she doesn't like first to get them out of the way. And we suggest mixing them on a fork with the stuff she does like. Nup. No way. Not on your life. Leaves them till the end, pushing them to the side of the plate, and getting her to eat them can be an excruciating battle. If you let her get away with it, she just increases her list of 'I don't like's, and basically, I'm not going to cook her special meals... but nor is she going to get away with not eating any vegetables. Not in my house.

She won't eat fish now either. Loathes it. Won't touch anything remotely fishy. Which kind of impacts on the family menu, because I have to choose between fish for the rest of us, and her either not eating a balanced meal, or scouring the fridge for leftovers (of which her siblings who don't mind fish are inclined to be jealous of.)

The vegies and fish issues are an ongoing battle... The most recent flare-ups, though, are over milk, and grainy bread.

Flatly refuses to eat anything but white bread. I have been buying the hyfibe white bread as a compromise, but am gradually trying to introduce more wholegrain bread for all of us.

HRH Princess 13 would starve rather than eat wholemeal or multigrain.

And the milk!

I've been buying no fat milk for me. Lo-fat for Marc, and whole milk for the kids. The younger two have admitted to hardly being able to taste the difference between the lo fat and the whole milk, so have been happy to oblige. They have been having glasses of milk at afternoon tea (used to be with milo, now I've been trying to find a lower carb alternative, but that's another story), so I said they were drinking far too much milk to be having all whole milk. As a compromise the other day I bought the local dairy co. equivalent of that 'smart white'.. the one in the ad where the guy goes into the shop for milk, and the shopkeeper reels off a list of all the types. "I just want milk that tastes like milk" he says, so she gives him a bottle of the Smart White. "Tastes like real milk... (then her eyes flicker down to his stomach)... and only 2% fat."

Worth a try, I think. Sick of Madam ruling the kitchen.

Younger two are fine with it. But not HRH. Flatly refuses to taste it, and the performance at breakfast time yesterday was priceless. She made herself toasted turkish bread and stomped off to school. Terrific. No calcium AND no fibre.

This morning she went off again having only eaten toast because - having missed the tiny bit of whole milk left in the fridge yesterday - she was enraged to find that Zoe had absentmindedly used that on her own cereal. (Zoe knows I get cranky when they don't finish off bottles before opening new ones!!)

I don't know if this battle is worth it.. but I'm determined to prove to her that she is just being bloody minded about it. Say goodbye to white bread, except for special, freshly baked treats. And the milk... well, lets just see if she can pass the taste test.

It's my duty as a Good Mother. :)

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Move over Murphy's Law...

I spend a lot of time pondering over my ability to procrastinate, put off, or sabotage my own attempts to do stuff, and I have come to the conclusion that there must be a greater force at work. Call it karma.. call it some hybrid of Murphy's Law.. or call it 'Shut up your whingeing and be positive for a change, Tracey'...

But here are some of the universal laws that seem to be apply to me lately.

Commitment to exercise will be rewarded with a hurdle.

* In March, post Big Ride, I made a pact with a friend about exercise, and was getting right into it. Then I tore a tendon in my calf - just walking down 2 steps!
* In August I made pacts with other would-be weight losers, and started walking determinedly every day. I instantly came down with a bad cough/cold (and my father in law's funeral.)
* I have been running the cross country, improving my time, but pay back is that my hip is playing up.

Commitment to doing something about a long standing 'family' job will be rewarded with a hurdle.

* I finally decided I had to take the plunge and get the ball rolling for house extensions without having Marc here. I set up an appointment with a building designer that we know. The morning of the appointment he rang to postpone it.. and hasn't rung back since.

(I know this seems trivial ["Welcome to the real world, Tracey. Life is like that.] but I am fighting off this lethargy/lack of confidence/borderline depression here, and I could use a bit of positive reinforcement.)

Commitment to voluntary work will inevitably lead to someone undermining what you have done, or are trying to do.

Want to know why I don't do much at the school anymore? That's why. And you won't see me back in the canteen any time soon.

Commitment to voluntary work leads to greater expectations of you than you really wanted to give in the first place.

(self explanatory, really)

On a lighter note, BIG QUESTIONS:

Have you ever noticed that when you decide you like a certain item or brand, it will inevitably be discontinued?

Why, when you know what you should and shouldn't eat, and even though you so bloody want to lose a few kilos, do you sabotage yourself with stuff like 'just a bit of butter won't hurt'... or 'this chocolate bar won't really hurt.. I'll be in a better mood after I've eaten it, and thus more able to face the challenge of losing weight.' ?

Why do we bother vacuuming/mopping floors etc when 5 mins later, the kids will come home and drop crap all over it?

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Random observations for the day

Major lesson learnt:

Major achievement:


Things that made me annoyed:

Things that made me happy:

Things that made me sad:
Only consolation:

Friday, September 22, 2006


Striving for mediocrity...

[And Blog posts are not meant to be this long!]

I always felt that I probaby fell into the category of 'smarter than the average bear'. No genius, but a reasonably intelligent person; and the expectations of my family, and myself I guess, was that I would end up making something of my life. Tertiary education, then a job. (Noone bothered to suggest I consider a job that would work well, 20 years down the track, if I had a family, and I doubt I would have thought it was cool to even think about it.)

I did pretty well, academically, all through school, and ended up in the top 10% of the state in the HSC (which is the NSW end of secondary school examination- the traditional 'be all and end all' of one's education.) All of that through the public school system. My parents had not had the opportunity to finish school, so here it was for me, all on a plate. It was the pre-HECs era too, where you weren't investing quite so much of the rest of your life (financially) on a course.

Mind you, I did the HSC without taking any scientific subjects, so perhaps my result was a soft one, and I wasn't as good as I looked on paper!

That was 25 years ago, and I think my little rising star burnt out, right there, at the end of 1979. Well, it's not snuffed out completely, but it's been putting along on candlelight ever since.

Everything I have done since has been mediocre, and I struggle with the expectation that I should be achieving more spectacularly in, at least, one area of my life.

I was good at foreign languages, but a year as an exchange student in Indonesia actually dampened my enthusiasm for working in interpreting (or anything Asian!).

I could have studied up and taught languages in school, but I was too proud to stoop to trying to teach languages to kids who didn't want to learn, or who were too stupid to pick it up.

I thought I enjoyed recreation leadership (after working on the Sport & Rec vacation camps), and I changed tertiary institutions in order to study a Assoc. Diploma in Recreation leadership. My parents had other ideas for their supposedly smart daughter (and as they were putting me through my studies I guess they had a right) and I was 'encouraged' to move to the BA course in Social Science.

I was still doing a sub-major in Rec, but my 'major' was welfare. So I found myself supposedly qualified to do welfare/community development when my passion wasn't really there.

My first job was a mickey mouse type of job, in the youth department of a major charity that wasn't actually doing coalface youthwork. It sort of combined the recreation and community development - but barely. When I finally got out of there and into a youth development position, I increasingly found myself out of my depth, and way too uncool to be a youth worker. As I had been told at college "You're so straight, it sticks out a mile."

Fortunately, although dipping my toes into the peer pressured social world of the college student, I never really got 'wet'. When I met Marc a year after I finished college, I gloriously threw myself into the world of outdoor pursuits, challenging myself physically with canoe marathons, and abseiling down cliffs and through canyons, and rafting down rivers.

My niche was as a follower, though, and I never had the self-confidence to take any of those skills to a higher level.

Destined to be a 2IC, I guess. Our weekends and holidays became so precious, I lost any interest in working in the recreation industry, which would require you to work in your recreation time. And if your recreation became work, would it still be recreation?

Perhaps that was pretty dumb of me. Wouldn't most people give their eye tooth to be doing something for work that they loved?

To us, the intrinsic enjoyment out of all this stuff we did was to undertake these activities with friends, and like-minded people, for our own recreation. People who you didn't have to take full responsibility for. At times 'invited' companions on some expeditions invited other friends, and we ended up taking on the anxiety of worrying about them, particularly if they weren't prepared well for it.

That feeling was probably a bit arrogant, because Marc in fact took me under his wing, and took me from being a complete novice to someone who gradually became more competent, and less of a liability.

But whatever...

We got married, and because of the move that involved, I left my job in community development and swore I needed to look for something else. Why I didn't retrain there and then I am not sure (but back then Marc wasn't earning much.) I picked up a series of jobs - receptionist in a doctor's surgery; receptionist in a radio station 'satellite office', and sales assistant in a tile shop!

I went back into a community (youth) development job, but was saved from admitting my inadequacies in that field by falling pregnant with our first child, and I never returned from maternity leave.

13 years later, I still don't know what to do with myself.

Marc works away a lot now, so I don't want or need the stress of trying to combine work with children, even though they are all at school. He earns enough to keep us (plus we are financially secure due to family loans, and making money on the house we owner built in the first few years of our marriage.)

But I feel like a failure, because my brain tells me I should be doing something worthwhile. Something worthy of my brain! Something worthy of the HSC mark I got, and the four years in tertiary study!

It's not like we are desperate, so that it would be worth it to pick up any old job. Working, say, on a checkout, is not the stimulation I am looking for in my life, or the contribution I feel like I should be making to the world.

But what?! Everything I do is mediocre (or worse!)

I'm a crap housekeeper - although I suppose you could say I excel at avoidance.
I am not even a good cleaner when I do it! I don't approach it logically, and I miss bits!

I enjoy writing, but as you can see, I am very verbose and wordy.

I like doing 'stuff' on the computer, but I don't excel at any of it. I have enough of an understanding of how it all works to put me in the 'competent user' range, but not skilled enough to be able to turn any of it into a money earner.

I am an adequate cook, but I'm rather over it all.

I can sew a bit, but I am not a natural, and it's another thing I put off doing anyway.

I am a teeny bit creative, but nothing to write home about. My only achievement in that area is to have seen that gene passed on to my kids and to see it somehow blossom within them.

I enjoy being active and fit, and doing crazy stuff like Big Bike Rides, but I don't make it easy for myself. If I was serious I'd be 10kg lighter, and out there working on my fitness and skills.

My list could go on and on... I suppose I am wallowing, and am only writing this in the vain hope that some idea will germinate from putting it down in black and white. (Or maybe someone in cyberspace will read it, smack me across the head (figuratively), and go 'der! why don't you do _this_')

Just don't tell me to pull myself together. The 'manic' in me will spiral into depression. And I am currently already swimming against that particular tide.


Thursday, September 21, 2006


The perks of being a 'SAHM'.

Today is one of those days I thank my lucky stars I am not working. (I tend give myself a lot of angst over this issue - so anytime I can I count the positives I do...)

Zoe is all blocked up and a bit headachy with a cold. Perhaps she is a bit of a hypochondriac, but she also loves school, so I really don't think she is bunging it on in order to have a day off. She isn't _that_ bad though.. so I suppose if I had a job to go to (and no extended family nearby to help out), I would be sending her to soldier on.

She ate breakfast, and I dosed her up on panadol and sent her back to bed. She was there maybe an hour, and has reemerged, feeling slightly better, but not fussed on going to school.

So it's TV time, and I've been paying homage to the fantastic shows that the ABC runs for kids in the mornings.

One of the biggest perks of having been able to stay home with my children is that I have been able to watch PlaySchool with them. Three kids, five years between oldest and youngest, and that's a lot of Playschool in my life, but I don't think you can ever tire of it. I've seen way older kids hover by a TV that is showing Playschool, and they can't help themselves but watch and smile, and that's what Zoe and I did this morning. You're never too old for Playschool. What a bloody brilliant Australian institution it is.

The ABC kids programming is now showing stuff geared to older kids; educational stuff that doesn't make me feel too bad about her being at home. "Being Me: Making Friends" is on at the moment, and it's reinforcing a good message.

The other positive in having Zoe home is that there are opportunities for a few more cuddles in the day. She is the SnugglePot of the family. From a baby she has been a snuggler - more so than the other two were as babies or toddlers. (The others were too busy being gung ho, whereas she did the clingy stage with much vigour.) I don't know that I did anything terribly different with her. Maybe I was more sooky with her because she came along after I had lost a baby half way through the previous pregnancy. Maybe it is because by the time she was born Marc was travelling away for work a lot, so maybe I tried to make up for his absences by being the provider of mum and dad comfort.

Or maybe it's just a fluky genetic makeup. Even as a tall 7 year old, she hasn't grown out of this amazing ability to mould her body into yours. It is almost an artform - something that the other two view with incredulity and some envy. It is something you expect her to grow out of as her body grows, but I can't help thinking she'll still be doing it when she's 21!

I shouldn't, however, use all this musing as an excuse not to do all the Mummy jobs that I should be doing. Having all day to do them in is a luxury that I tend to abuse... but that's another 'bad me' story for another time.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006


How to reduce a cynic to tears...

Until today I had viewed the Steve Irwin phenomenon with some detachment. I had always dismissed the guy as a bit OTT.

A bit? Are you kidding? You couldn't get any more Over The Top than Steve Irwin.

Believe it or not we never really saw any of the Crocodile Hunter shows (mostly a reflection of my TV station choices) and, like quite a few other Australians, I tended to cringe at how overboard 'Ocker' he was. He rose to celebrity status in the US, and we didn't quite know whether to be proud of him, or embarrassed that he was perpetuating an image of an Aussie that didn't really sit quite comfortably with us.

I mellowed a little when we visited Australia Zoo a few years ago, and I was quite impressed with the place, even though I'm not really big on zoos per se.

I weakened more when I saw him being interviewed on 'Enough Rope' (a fairly well regarded interview show on our national broadcaster, where the interviewer, Andrew Denton, tends to try to dig below the surface), and I could see that the guy was truly unique. He personified the term 'WYSIWYG'. The guy really was full on, like that, ALL the time. No pretensions. Just full on passion. And I mean, how could you not admire (just a bit!) a guy who would turn up an invitation to a dinner party with the President because it 'wasn't his thing'.

You couldn't fault his love for his family, even if he probably made some questionable parenting decisions at times. The crocodile feeding with baby Bob in his arms was the obvious one. The more trite example that came up in the interview was something about him letting his kid have icecream for breakfast if she wanted it!! (Terri must surely, at times, have felt like she had 3 children.)

But it became apparent that this bloke really did put his money where his mouth was. More than his TV shows, and his zoo, his private contributions to such a wide range of practical conservation programs were what really impressed me.

I recategorised him from a 'wacko' to an 'alright wacko'. By god, at least he was out there doing something he believed in, which is more than what I do.

I reacted to the news of his death in the same way I react to news of anyone dying. I loathe making more of a celebrity death than any ordinary person - but I tend to tear up when I hear of anyone dying - whether it's a local 'nobody' who has family and friends who will miss them - or someone in the limelight.

A few extra tears escaped because he was exactly the same age as me. And a parent, like me. And oh how I felt for his wife and kids. 44 is too young to die, even if it is doing something you love, and in a way you have brought on yourself.

I might have even held back on some emotion because of the celebrity factor. On principle, you know. It doesn't do to be worshipping celebrities, especially one who has toyed with death and danger all his life.

But the memorial service today brought me undone; not that that is too difficult, but I really was trying to be pragmatic. I first caught it on the radio while I was driving in to town, and then again, replayed on the telly tonight. And I cried.

The world has lost a true conservation warrior, and that truly does make me sad. I don't doubt that his family and friends will continue his work. His daughter is a chip off the old block if I ever saw one - and it was her most amazingly presented tribute that will surely have had tougher nuts than me wiping away the tears.

...We cringed at times and shook our
heads - but true to Nature's call
There was something very Irwin in the make up of us all
Yes the more I care to think of it -
the more he had it right
If you're going to make a difference-
make it big and make it bright!
Yes - he was a lunatic! Yes - he went
head first!
But he made the world feel happy
with his energetic burst
A world so large and loyal that it's
hard to comprehend
I doubt we truly count the warmth
until life meets an end
To count it now I say a prayer with
words of inspiration
May the spoltlight shine forever on
his dream for conservation...

(Rupert McCall - excerpt from his poem,
read by David Wenham at the memorial celebration)


Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Watch out kids... here comes Mum.

I am feeling very chuffed with myself this week - in that my swimming and jogging times have improved to the point that I am challenging my children!

What does this say about me? (It says I was never a high achiever with sport!)

It's a bit sad, but I think I'm great because my time yesterday for swimming 1 km (40 laps x 25m) - and I did 19:15 - beats my 11 year old's most recent PB of (she thinks) 19:30. It was probably 4 or 5 mins better than the last time I did it too (a couple of years ago probably)..

On the surface that sounds like nothing to write home about - but the truth is that I wasn't ever much of a swimmer. Four years ago I started with this adult swimming squad (for stroke correction and fitness) - motivated by realising that my then 9 and 7 year olds were already way better swimmers than I was!

My ability to run in my youth was even worse than my swimming, (make that, like, zilch ability) so starting to do so after the age of 40 (and carrying about 10 kg more than I should be) has been a big personal achievement. The local Little Athletics club runs a casual Cross Country session every Tuesday afternoon in the off season. Anyone can turn up, chuck 50 cents each in the container, and then run 1, 2 or 3 laps of a 2.5 km course... mostly dirt track through a bit of bush, between the high school and the footy oval.

They clock your time as you come in, give you a ticket no; you put your name down with your number, and they publish the times in each of the local papers the next weekend. They also keep a running tally for every person. 1 point for turning up and running; 3 points if you do a PB. If you getto 20 points you get a bronze medallion, 30 pts for silver (probably more for gold, I don't know.)

The older two girls had just taken to cross country running when it happened at school (and did well at it without having to try much at all, really.) My #3 approaches the physical pursuits in life more cautiously, and so 2 years ago I thought maybe we could both 'learn' how to run together.

She has gone from a prone-to-tears 5 year old likely to trip and graze her knees, to this keen 7 yr old who insists on going every week, and runs off ahead of slow coach Mum, feeling very superior (no doubt) in the knowledge that she beats me easily every week.

We learnt that they had a medal system and realised that she had improved enough to be eligible for the bronze, so she is quite chuffed about that. As I have slowly improved, she's said things to me like "I think you're improving, Mum". (Hey, isn't praise and positive reinforcement supposed to be my job?)

There is one section near the end where the course doubles back on itself, (a red paint dot on a path being the turnaround point) and we normally hi-five each other as she passes me on the home run. It was the closest ever to the red dot today that we hi-fived, and I ended up finishing only 50 seconds behind her (feeling almost like throwing up, actually -so I know I was trying.) 16:32 - 20 seconds better than my last PB. Woo hoo. My main aim with doing this was to actually manage to get through the course without walking _any_ of it, so I am very happy.

I told Zoe I was going to catch her next week! (Which is unfortunately the last week until next year.) That should get her moving.

I reckon I have only been able to coax my body into a jog because of the aerobic fitness I've gained from the swimming. Neither is helping me lose much weight.. (though maybe I'd just be bigger if I wasn't doing this!) I think if anyone videoed me running I would die of embarrassment and never do it again; I can't imagine I cut a very athletic figure galumphing along as I do. The red face that doesn't subside for another hour is bad enough, particularly when I dropped by the local supermarket on the way home today, and someone ask if I was sunburnt!

My left hip is also playing up a bit.. I am hoping it won't get too bad, because I don't want to have to give up the ability to run now that I have finally managed to do so! It's only taken me 44 years to get to this point!

Who am I and why did I come to Blogland?

I called my blog 'crazytrace' but I am not actually 'crazy' in the 'she's a hoot' kind of way, which is probably a bit of a disappointment. The blog might be more interesting if I was even a little bit eccentric

As a mum (ho hum), yes another one.. with a husband and 3 kids - it's more the 'you lot drive me crazy' kind of crazy, and that probably applies at least occasionally to most parents if they are honest with themselves.

Some people also think we are crazy with the activities we choose to do, like riding bikes a few hundred kilometres, or abseiling into narrow gorges (which we call canyoning).

So, I'm going with crazy. (And it does make me feel a bit eccentric.)

I initially tagged this blog with the Line "Mutterings of a Manic Mother" But sometime in November 06 [yep, this is an edit...] I read another blog which had a big whinge about the self deprecating blog tags of people using the label 'drivel', 'musing' and even 'muttering'. Ye gods, I thought. That is so me.Guilty Your Honour. And yes, it is so bloody boring. So no more drivelling, musing or muttering for me.

HOWEVER. I do still see myself as a tad manic because I swing between days when I feel energized and passionate about things, to days when I have trouble motivating myself to do the bare minimum that is required to get through the day, let alone figure out what to do when I grow up. (Technically that is manic-depressive I suppose.. but let's not get technical.)

Anyways.. and Whatever... Lately I write in some sort of attempt to try and sort out these feelings. And to try and rationalise who I am, and where I fit in the scheme of things.

I stuff around with a family website which pretty much summarises who I think I am, as well as how I see each of the rest of the family.

I am tentatively making this journey into Blogland because I find myself composing potential blog posts in my mind. 'Tis a forlorn attempt to try to write with wit and brevity. (As you'll see, the 'brevity' bit needs a lot of work.)

Perhaps it is some sub-conscious desire to prove to myself that the BA Degree I did more than 20 years ago was not entirely wasted. Hey look, I can string a few words together here; I might be "just a mum" but I'm not stupid! And maybe if I practise writing enough, I'll get good enough at it to find a way of earning money out of it.

It is probably, however, simply because it involves less energy output than emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming the house, or cleaning the bathroom.

If nothing else, I can shatter the illusion that all 'Stay-At-Home-Mothers's are domestic goddesses, and supermums, with immaculate houses.


Monday, September 18, 2006


Muddle Headed Wombat.

That's me. Perhaps I'm not quite as stupid as Ruth Park's children's book character is portrayed. But the name feels apt, as I quite often feel like I muddle through each day, week, and in fact, my whole life, somehow achieving things despite being a master procrastinator. Plus I have the bum to match.

Apparently to some 'outsiders' (a teacher at the girls' school, for example), I look super organised. How I laughed when she told me that. Somehow... SOMEHOW... my kids get to where they are going, on time (usually), dressed neatly and cleanly, and their 'smarts' and general ability must make it appear like I am some sort of super mum. Of course there's one little part of me that takes credit for it all. Realistically, though, it's more good luck than good management. Or perhaps just a good advertisement for chaos theory.

The house is a diabolical mess, and most people would be horrified at the mess I get myself into, particularly in the kitchen.

Today is a shining example of my muddle-headed wombatedness:

I left typing up the netball committee meeting minutes AND the AGM minutes for tonight's meeting till today.

I not only went to bed after midnight last night, but I then started reading a book, and then kept reading till I finished it. Around 3 am.

Alison needed to make a cake for a class fundraising cake stall today, and I was in too much of a mess (and shopping marathoned out), to consider making it last night. Told her to get up early and make it. Which she did, even though, I realised later, it was Caitlin who'd made this particular quick mix Lemon Delicious cake before.
(I left the ingredients and the mixmaster out for her, and she came through, despite giving her and me a minor heart attack AFTER she had put it in the oven over a misunderstanding of what side of the grater she should have used for the lemon zest.)

Kitchen still a mess from other unwashed items that I'd left for 'Ron. (LateR on) Cake making stuff as well = chaos.

Manage to make lunches. Retrieve cake from oven; it sticks a bit, so need to come up with alternative presentation, then take up to school for her.

1pm and I've done the minutes, and have to race off to my swimming squad (bring on those Happy Little Exercise Endorphins!)

I will then need to make up a batch of spaghetti bol. Drive Cait and 2 others to Coffs for 4.30 pm netball training (50 minute return trip.)

Have other two showered and ready to leave within the hour - dropping them and food off at friend's place for babysitting. Take her and me to netball meeting. Pick up all three after meeting (Cait will get lift back to there from training) and get them all to bed, hopefully not too late.

Hopefully achieve all of the above through caffeine and endorphin induced rush.

I could, of course, have prepared some of the spag bol instead of writing this, but where would be the fun in that?

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Shopping marathon.

Riding a bike 500km? Pffft. I've been clothes shopping today with my three girls. I was not born to shop like many women - and I've shunned fashion for comfort more and more as I get older and wiser - so I think of a clothes shopping expedition much in the same way that others would contemplate riding a bike 20 kilometres. It's hard enough dragging myself through fitting rooms for my own clothes, so anytime I do it with and for three children, I feel like I deserve a medal by the end of it.

Ms 13 announced the other day that she 'had no clothes' for summer, and it is true that she has grown, and grown out of a lot of things, so I figured that today had to be shopping day... and it was best to do it while Dad was away, so we weren't missing out on doing the weekend family thing.

What a way to spend a lovely spring Sunday! Not.

To be truthful though, they are getting a bit better. There was nothing we absolutely HAD to get (like when my mum gives them money to buy outfits every Christmas but I have to take them shopping for them.) I managed today on 2 cups of calming coffee, which isn't too bad. Thought we could get in and out by lunchtime, but that was aiming too high. Spent a heap, but there is no choice unless you want to go shopping lots of times! Get it all over and done with, I say.

I've been dreading the 'teenage girl' shop thing, and we first went into Supre. (Trendy, supposedly discount, teenage shop with the loud music.) Alison had a $20 gift voucher for there, and Cait, I think, felt like she should be buying more 'in' type clothes. "But it's the fashion Mum," she's been known to say, rolling her eyes at me.

Arrrgh! The music! Perhaps all the girls who buy there have their own funds, because I can't imagine why it wouldn't put off most 'middle aged' mothers operating the purse strings. My head was starting to thump in time with the music and I could feel the crankiness starting to well up in me. Not a good start to the expedition. There was nothing to suit an 11 year old, and Hallelujah! the 13 year old still has enough sense to realise that denim knee length pants at $45 aren't a really sensible economic choice! And when she showed me a skirt with a waist would have reached half way up (or half way down?) her bum crack, I said NO. "While I am buying the clothes I have the right to say no to ones that make you look like - pardon the expression - a slut."

Target here we come. And it was quiet! Bliss. Knee length denim pants for $25. A bargain compared to Supre. And she came away happy with a few shorts, and tops. Alison and Zoe got skirts and tops. Happy days.

Onwards (and downwards in "quality"), but happily Best & Less and Big W had the odd thing (like PJs) to keep them happy, and keep me happy that I am getting away without having to buy the expensive surfie brands that cost 3 times as much but could still get ruined just as quickly with food or grass or dirt stains.

Zoe's favourite buy today was a Best & Less t-shirt for $7 that has "Stop talking! It's my Turn" on it. It's as if the designer has been sitting at our dinner table some nights when Zoe chucks a wobbly because she can't get a word in edgeways.

And more kudos to Caitlin (she has a brain after all!) She has the sense to dislike the current fashion of wearing tops that have a sports type back, with a normal bra, so that the bra straps show, big time. What is with that look?! Bra straps and bum cracks! Blah!

My other big fashion whinge is the dearth of nice summer sandals for kids the age mine are! We went through this last year, and could find nothing, absolutely nothing, for Alison that looked ok, and that she found comfortable. The world is crazy. You buy your kids a nice outfit so they'll look nice if you go out somewhere. And what can they wear on their feet? Thongs. (That's the Aussie 'thong' that is footwear of the flip flop, uncomfortable thing-in-between-your-toes variety.) As their feet are now nearing adult size, there is the choice of high heels, but again they (still) have the sense to realise that they can't walk in them properly and would quite possibly fall off them and do their ankles! (And I am relieved that they won't be starting too early on the path to doing their back in or throwing their posture out!)

In another miracle, we found sandals for Zoe that weren't too wide on her skinny feet (and which she just LOVED). Just as well, because she can't handle thongs.) After having already trawled through the usual shoe shops, Target and Big W, I wasn't expecting to find something in Payless Shoes, but the shopping gods were smiling on me today.

Cait and Alison came away with compromise dress thongs (after trying on dozens that were uncomfortable), and after a long grilling from me about just how long they could keep them on their feet if we were out somewhere. "Like, if we were at a restaurant, if you got up to walk to the loo or something, then you would have to keep them on your feet." and "Like at Papa's funeral...(though I certainly hope we don't have any more funerals to go to this year)... but you would have had to keep them on your feet throughout the service, and through the wake. Like that length of time."

A compromise, though. I have to face facts. The fashion world and me just don't have much in common, (you guessed it, I'm a dag!) and it's a challenge for me to manoeuvre my girls, as they grow, through the fashion minefield, and help them balance faddism, comfort, wanting to look nice, and basic economics).

I've had worse shopping marathons, I have to say. Hopefully the girls will continue to get better. But I still want a medal!

Saturday, September 16, 2006


"You know you're in Finland when there is reindeer on the menu"

This was the text from Marc that came in around 2 am my time (I went to bed so late, I was still in a light enough sleep to hear the beep-beeping of my mobile from two floors up!) I guess he was looking for a meal at Helsinki airport.

Reindeer would be at the mild end of the 'unusual food' spectrum for him. Working in Asia will do that for you. He, fortunately, has a cast iron gut (and an adventurous spirit) and has been able to impress the locals by at least trying anything that is served. In Asia, no body part of an animal is wasted... (and I have a theory that the reason so many Asian dishes are ultra spicy is to disguise what they are eating! - plus the compulsory sculling of glasses of almost pure alcohol in toasts to anything and everything -ok, that was mainly just in China - would numb your mind to what you were eating.) Eyes, ears, brains, all sorts of innards... Plus a variety of other creatures, the most offputting (to me) of which was scorpion!

I've yet to hear whether he gave the reindeer a go. Would an airport food court be the place to try such local fare or would you wait to try it in a half-decent restaurant? (He will be spending several hours in Helsinki on Monday so he has the chance.)

Would that be akin to trying kangaroo in Sydney airport? (or is reindeer the Finnish equivalent of an all-beef patty?)

And here's where I make a big confession. I'm an Aussie, but I've never tried kangaroo!

I hear it's good, but I've, frankly, never been game.

What if I hate it? I'm not keen on gambling the price of a main meal at a restaurant on trying something I might despise. I see kangaroo steaks in the foam trays in the supermarket meat departments, but the 'meat quality' snob in me thinks they might not be the best there is to buy, and if you're going to try kangaroo, then you should do it properly. (It doesn't stop me from picking up lamb, beef or pork from the meat display in Woollies or Coles.)

I don't tend to notice kangaroo in the 'proper butcher' displays, and even if I did, I'm not really sure of the best way to cook it.

Am I being un-Australian? (Or a dinki-di Aussie by not wanting to eat our national emblem!) Or just an unadventurous cook?

Friday, September 15, 2006


Happy little exercise endorphins.

Exercise endorphins. They are so real.. I can feel them right now, buzzing around my body even 5 hours after getting home. An almost tingly feeling, which sends 'I Feel Terrific' messages to my brain, pulling me out of the funk that I tend to wallow around in on an all too regular basis of late. Today I tore myself away from blog land and rode my bike - only 12km, but hey.. that's 12km better than nothing. [I made a pact with myself that I was going to ride to a lunch date.] And at 5.30 I backed up for my swimming squad. And I'm HIGH!

For a 44 year old, I'm managing to keep myself relatively active. Not as active as some, but a truckload more than many women my age. (What a pity I sabotage that with my eating, but I'll leave that issue for another post another day.)

Courtesy of still being a 'stay at home' mum, I have plenty of time in which to schedule exercise - but do I? All too often, no. (Take this week, for example, where I slothed around at home most days.) And I can't understand why I don't. This feeling is good enough to get addicted to - and what's more, it's legal, and, yes, yes, it's actually good for you!

I don't have a problem drinking 5 cups of coffee (or more) a day, and it doesn't make you feel that good for that long. And the beer or wine I convince myself I need most nights doesn't make me feel quite as wonderful either. (Lucky for me I don't have any other harder drug addictions or interests!)

I have been swimming in an Adult fitness squad for nearly 4 years now - mostly two sessions a week. Monday at 1.30, and Friday afternoons at 5.30. Thank god for that, otherwise I'd be a vegetable. (And my swimming wouldn't have improved either.) These days we usually cover around 2.2 km a session, a mix of warm ups/downs, drills, and a variation of aerobic and anaerobic sprint workouts which can leave you gasping for breath. Not the sort of thing you'd make yourself do whilst doing laps down at the local pool.

The swimming has given me the newfound ability to jog a bit, so most Tuesday afternoons I thud around a 2.5 km cross country course with Zoe. (*Thud* being the operative word!) I am not sure my bod is up to it, but I am giving it a whirl... taking now around 17 mins to do the distance. That isn't particularly fast! It's just barely jogging! (As a guide, Alison does that distance in about 12 minutes, and Zoe in about 15.) But I am just chuffed that I can do it without walking. It's something I couldn't do when I was a kid, and I get an endorphin hit (and a few aches and pains!)

I even activate those super cool endorphins if I do a decent paced walk up the beach and back.

And, given our newfound passion for bike riding, I am trying to 'train' myself up a bit, so that the extreme bouts of riding that we set ourselves to do, aren't quite such an Everest. The Big Ride that we did earlier this year (on the tandems) was HUGE by most people's standards. (Doesn't come near something like Le Tour de France, but we are talking normal people here!) Did it, but did it tough in places, so know there is room for fitness improvement. And Marc, bless him, does keep reminding me that I am the weakest link, even if he doesn't use those words.

The other weekend we did an 'extreme' bout of bike riding. 44km on the road tandem, him and me, at some ungodly hour for a Sunday morning; and then 35 km with the girls on the 'old' tank tandem, Marc having to hitch Zoe's trail-a-bike to his single mountain bike because Her Highness, Ms 13, wanted to sloth! And we were STUFFED. Can't imagine why, after 80km in one morning! But, bloody hell, at the same time I felt absolutely wonderful!

So, tell me. Why can't I get myself hooked on doing something endorphin producing like this every day?

Last time I got serious about it (a few weeks ago), I got sick. (Caught the lurgy that was going around.) That knocked me around for a week, and I'm still trying to get back on track. The time before I tore a calf muscle!!

It's hard not to get just a teeny bit disillusioned! And disillusionment leads to 'funk' and wallowing, and sitting on my backside procrastinating, and in a vicious cycle. And not going out and activating those feel-good endorphins.

Still. I am lucky. Body mostly functioning at the moment (although the hip is niggly after jogging last week.) Rain has stopped (wish we could have sent this last lot west - where they really need it.) Marc is on his way to get us a triplet bike! We are going in the Sydney to Gong bike ride. And all is right with the world. (Yeah, right..)

Tonight I feel inspired. I wonder if this time I can get addicted.



Biting the bullet

I have been fiffing and faffing with the idea of starting a blog. I was inspired by my friend Miscellaneous Mum who has begun a blog just recently, with the idea (I think) of practising her writing skills. I am also inspired by a couple of very clever and funny bloggers that I have stumbled across. Dooce is an American woman who has a way with words that leaves me in awe (and often in hysterics.) Mimi Smartypants has a very cool and clever name, and, again, has that way with words that makes me envious!

I have never had huge aspirations to be a writer, but I seem to spend a lot of time doing so lately. I've had an online diary that I made private, because while I didn't mind the idea of faraway/online friends reading it, I cringed at the thought of local acquaintances stumbling across it! So, that remains my private, bedside-diary-replacement, and place where I can write my daily drivel in semi-private!

Here I will attempt to write succinctly, and apply wit to daily issues - whether they be as mundane as my inability to get off on housework, or as profound as a comment on the political woes besetting Australia and the world.

I have started a family bike riding blog, because that is our latest passion.

I have also been doing a family website, and writing up various family tours. Sometimes people tell me I write well. Sometimes I think I can; sometimes I don't. I figured I might as well practice! Who knows where it might lead. Dooce (as referred to above) now makes a living from her blogging! I don't think I am that good at writing, but perhaps the practice will open doors to potential money-earning-from-writing gigs.

I am also blundering around in html-land, trying to tweak the template to give the blog a unique 'me' look. I understand only half of what I am doing! I wish it was possible, Matrix-like, to download all I need to know about it into my brain! (And why does it look different in Firefox compared to IE?!! - if any html smartypants can look at the code, and tell me how to reduce the sidebar width (relative to the main column) so that it looks ok in both Firefox and IE I will be eternally grateful!)


So this, dear world, is Tracey becoming a dreaded "Mommy Blogger"... with the caveat that I am actually a MUMMY blogger, because in Australia I am a MUM.

Yes, I did cringe for a bit at the idea of doing the whole Mum Blog thing.. but the (sad) reality is that that is what I am.. no more, no less, really. In the absence of having a paid job, I can only lay claim to being a Mum, albeit a tandem-riding one!

Not that I don't have interests and opinions that aren't related to being mother to 3 girls. I might get on my soapbox about other things.. I can be a bit passionate about quite a few things that get up my nose!

Well, whatever.. this is MY blog, about our life.. from MY point of view! Isn't the internet a wonderful thing?!

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