Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I'm good... yep.. I'm good...

If I keep telling myself that I will believe it. I'm good. Good. I run a constant battle against my own insecurities, inertia, frustrations, procrastinations, and a 44 year old body that has seen better days, so some days I need a bit of self persuasion.

Well, I am currently feeling ok. I just got back from my trainer session (and I've signed up for more.) I am making progress, I feel stronger, and she even reckons I look like I've lost some weight and toned up a bit. (She also thinks my husband will notice when he gets home on Friday, but I snorted and said "nuh, not likely". She doesn't believe me, but that's the truth. I "plucked" (ha ha) up the courage to get my eyebrows done again for the first time in a long while but he won't notice that either, because he didn't when I got them done for the first time ever. ) (Of course writing this here - which he does read occasionally - might just tip him off... so of course if he does say anything now, I will just say 'you're just saying that because you read it in my blog'... poor man)

I hurt my back a bit mowing on Monday morning - well, probably from shifting garden furniture. And so then my swimming class in the afternoon was a write-off, what with the back twingeing again, and legs that had nothing left in them after the 40km ride on Sunday (mainly mountain biking tracks - I worked hard).. It's true! They felt dead. Rather a weird feeling, and a bit peturbing. I felt like crying because I wasn't "altogether" and I wanted to be. Marc reckons it's all good, I must have worked really hard on the bike and that's the most important thing at the moment.

My back is ok today though - only a couple of twinges if I am not careful. So I am about to mow the front yard! Fool that I am, risking my back again. I know I could leave it for Marc, now that he'll be home in a couple of days, but we have limited weekend time with bike riding/training having to be squeezed in between kids' netball commitments, and the yard is waaaaay overdue for whipper snipping, and that's where I do draw the line at what my back can cope with. So he'll be whipper snipping on the weekend at some point I think. Welcome home darling.

I had another all day swimming carnival to attend yesterday. (Middle daughter did good again.. a couple of 1st places, and through to the next carnival in every event bar breastroke. It is at Lismore - about 2 and a half hours drive away- Thursday of next week. I am thinking the Daddy can take her to that one...and he did suggest it.) I am still amazed at how tired you can get just hanging around all day, and how much of a 'touch of sun' you can get despite mainly sitting in the shade and only jumping up to watch the events your kids are in.

The house is still a debacle, because I still keep putting the housework stuff off. I would rather mow the yard than wash up. Is there any hope for me? (I think it is because something like mowing looks 'done' for just a bit longer than the washing up does... )

I also have to work out how to go about this afternoon's schedule. Touch for 2 kids 4.30 - 5.30. Parent teacher meeting at school at 6.00. Debate whether to cadge lift for eldest into town for netball (game time 7.30 - 8.30) or go solo. But I did it last week.. well, I did the drop off, because the other girl was being precious about the remote chance of being 2 minutes late - Caitlin finishing touch at 5.30, and them having a 6.30 game. Despite having a team of 11 to rotate playing 7 positions so if we were a few minutes late it wouldn't matter... and then we bloody beat her into the courts ANYWAY! So I have sent a text asking for them to take Cait, but also offering to get her to and from a drop off point so I am not inconveniencing them too much by them having to drive out of their way twice as far as I drive out of my way to pick up and drop their daughter off... NO! I am not at all narky about any of this, particularly when parent concerned is the one who upset me at the netball committee meeting...)

*takes a breath*

And I have to figure out how and what to cook and have for dinner in the middle of it all. Sometimes I get myself all in a knot over such trivialities and blow it all out of all proportion in my mind.

One day I'll get it all together. Maybe. If body and mind don't gang up and let me down completely in the meantime.

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Monday, February 26, 2007


Do I look that stupid?

Heh. What is it with teenagers, and tweenagers for that matter? Lying!! Why do they try to get away with the un-get-awayable? Do they think we're stupid or what?

The background: Thursday night when I pick up pizzas, I buy a bottle of lemonade. We have a tradition in our family that the kids get fizzy primarily for 'special' occasions. It doesn't reside in the fridge for daily consumption. Parties, celebrations, (and when they have ridden many kilometres on a bike.) Whenever anyone in the family has 'done good', we celebrate, and they can have fizzy. So, Thursday, Alison's haul at the swimming carnival was certainly meritorious. (And Zoe swam well too) So, yes, I bought a bottle of lemonade.

Arrive home with the pizzas - nothing has been done in preparation. Mum gets the poops, and they don't get lemonade, and it sits unopened in the fridge.

Fast forward to last night. Alison asks if they can have the lemonade. Guess they didn't do much to earn it yesterday, but maybe I did on their behalf - (40 km of mountain bike riding.) Or maybe I was just too stuffed to say no.

"Yeah, ok", I relent. Ali gets it out of the fridge, and hmmm.. interesting... it has been opened and about a glass worth has been consumed.

"Rightio, who opened the lemonade?"

"Not I" said Alison. "Not I" said Zoe. "Not I" said the teenager who had arrived home at least an hour earlier than the rest of us.

"You're kidding aren't you!" I say. "One house, currently 4 occupants, and you expect me to believe that not one of you opened it!!" We all look at the obvious culprit.

"Ah, duh... yeah... well, I only took a little bit."

"Well, none for you for dinner then."

"But it was only a little bit!!!"

"Um, Caitlin. You might just have got away with it, despite it not really being the right thing to do (especially as the celebration was not, that day, on your behalf.).. But you lied about it!! What possessed you to lie?"

"Um, it was just an automatic reaction."


Automatic reaction. Deny, deny, lie... ??

I can't figure it. Does she really think I'm that stupid? Unless.. (recalling my university psychology lectures), there has been a variable schedule of reinforcement occuring. Translation: Is she actually getting away with it more than I realise, so that it has actually become a Pavlovian response to lie as an automatic response.

In which case, maybe I'm not as on the ball as I thought I was.

Guess we are all only human... and we all make errors. And some are far dumber than not picking up your teenager's propensity to lie!

I'll leave you with these for a chuckle:

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Saturday, February 24, 2007


When even priorities get rescheduled...and rescheduled...

The calendar is chocka, and it doesn't even include the regular stuff, or the stuff that I know I should be doing. (Heaven knows where I would find the time to work - but that's another story.)

I know everybody does this daily juggle of prioritising what to do and when. And I'm sure you have, either on paper, or mentally, a list of what you feel you should get through each day. I don't know about you, but every day I never, ever, get through everything that I think I should attempt. (Maybe I'm just unrealistic. Or lazy...?? Probably both.)

Even without a job - or in the case of today, on a weekend - there is always stuff that gets put off. Heck- I'm the master of "Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow." I just prefer to think of it as rescheduling. Or 'flexibility'. Hah.

I probably apply that flexibility mostly to not doing housework. But I was thinking about it specifically today when I realised that late this afternoon I couldn't do all three of the following: take the girls down to the beach; do up the crumbed chicken drumbsticks for dinner; and mow the yard.

What was I doing the rest of the day, you may well ask?

Well.. another bike ride - because doing that is important to what I/we are doing in 3 weeks time. [I got up at 5 o'bloody o'clock to go in to town to the community ride again - very chuffed with myself for doing so. 25km - it all adds up. ]

Then I went up to the netball courts - because I feel obliged to be there because of being on the committee. Alison had to be there for 2 hours for grading and special training. She got a lift there while I was finishing with the bike ride. I actually turned up there late - deliberately - because I put socialising for half an hour after the ride as a greater priority. Given recent events in that arena, I decided that my bike riding could be rated as more important than netball committee "obligations".

The afternoon? I was too stuffed to do anything because I got up so early! I even went and had a sleep! It is very rare for me to do that - though I'm finding it easier to do so after these bouts of getting up in the dark. [Funny how I feel invigorated for a couple of hours after that ride, but then wilt.]

And therefore it came down to the aforementioned dilemma. I also prefer to go to the beach in the late afternoon - it is too hot and 'burny' otherwise. If I was going to mow, I'd rather do it late afternoon as well when it was theoretically a bit cooler. And when it came down to prioritising between skinning and crumbing drumsticks and sleep, of course the sleep won out. Just call me slacko mum.

And of the big three? What would you choose?

The beach! Of course! I was spurred on by the plaintive request delivered earlier by middlest child (and family waterbaby), who, without quite saying so, managed to lay guilt at my feet for them only really getting to go to the beach with Dad, but Dad is away so much, so here it is, they live 200 m from the beach but we don't really go that often because their mother is a wuss about deciding where is the safest part of the (unpatrolled) beach to swim at and likes to leave that responsibility to the much smarter (in that department) Daddy, and that just really sucks, you know. So I chose the beach. Let's call it parent guilt.

We didn't go out far. Without the big brave daddy. But they caught waves with their boogie boards for a good half an hour. My very spoilt girls who don't realise what paradise they live in where they can catch waves with not another soul around them for hundreds of metres - nor how lucky they are to be able to just wander across to the surf for a dip, even if it doesn't happen as much as they'd like. When I was growing up in Sydney, a trip to the beach was a day-long epic - or what you did on your summer camping holiday.

The drumsticks are rescheduled till tomorrow. (I threw together a rather pathetic stir fry with 2 minute noodles.) The mowing is rescheduled till.. um... Monday...

Because tomorrow - Sunday - I have very guiltily farmed out the kids, and I am going on a BUG (Bicycle User Group) ride of about 40 something km, on dirt roads, with hills.. so it's very good training for the Big Ride. Doesn't stop me feeling guilty for asking favours of kids' friends' parents because my husband is away, therefore we can't do what we'd normally do. (ie. bike ride with the kids.) And guilty because I get all the weekdays (school swimming carnivals notwithstanding) as kid-free time, and here I am using these other working parents to get a Sunday off. The only thing that makes me feel ok is that Zoe's friends nan has offered to have her anytime because she is such a delight. And Ali's friend's mum said "absolutely". I will be stressing about returning the favour though. I am just like that.

And of course they think I'm a sandwich short of a picnic for choosing to go and ride a bike 40 odd k's as my child-free activity.

And the mowing, which could have been done on a Sunday, rates lower in the priorities.. so Monday morning it will have to be. But it can't wait till Marc gets home on Friday.. I will need a machete to get to the clothesline, and the front is that long it looks like an unkempt rental property...

It'll probably rain!

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Thursday, February 22, 2007


Good tired. Bad tired.

Yesterday I was Good Tired. That physically stuffed 'tired' after exerting yourself is actually a positive sort of tired. I was beyond 'zingy zing zing' , but I still felt good. (I am struggling for a way to describe it, and given that you'll either 'get it' or you won't, there is not much point labouring the point. So to speak!)

Today, however, I am Bad Tired... as in totally-stuffed-from-doing-nothing tired. I just basically stood and sat around a pool all day for a primary school district swimming carnival. It was hot. And it was about 6 hours long.

It was a good day in that Ali came out of it as Senior Girls Champion. (There are about 8-10 schools competing in it.) She won 4 of her individual races, came second in two, and together with her school teammates, won the senior girls relay. Not bad for a part timer. She's been gifted with a lovely natural swimming style (none of my genes that's for sure) and she's always been pretty strong. And I guess the year round once a week hour swim squad helps - though heaven knows she'd do really well if she cared enough to train seriously. (She's not 'record breaking' good, just annoyingly naturally good.) She doesn't want to train any more though, and that's ok. The once a week squad she does is great for her fitness.. and winning races is just icing on the cake. I'm not that partial to the concept of getting up at 4.30 am to take my kid to early morning swimming squads 4 or 5 days a week, thanks anyway. I'm not about to talk her into it, though if she suddenly came to me and asked me to, I daresay I'd do it.

Zoe swam well in her 9 yrs 50m freestyle. No placing - though I can't help thinking her lap time in the junior girls relay (they came 3rd) might have gained her a place had she swum that hard in her individual!! I am not the sort to cart a stopwatch around, so that is pure conjecture in my head, but they all seem to swim that much harder in a team event! The relays are a hoot to watch.

Naturally I am very proud of my swimmers. Plural. Because despite being totally and utterly chuffed when your kid wins stuff, I still maintain that the most important thing is to take part, as long as you do your best.

So I wasn't that impressed with the kid in Zoe's relay team who, once she got to the shallow end, kept half stopping and touching the bottom!! (How she didn't get them disqualified I don't know.) Her mother goes "Heh... she ate too much for lunch". Well, duh.. Now that doesn't help the kid to do her best does it? And frankly I don't care what she does for her individual races, but for a team, you do your bloody best, and at age 10, going on to represent your school because you were the 2nd fastest junior girl swimmer and having to touch the bottom? That wasn't good enough. A slower kid who can do the 50 m without tippy toeing on the bottom should have got a guernsey instead IMHO.

But anyway back to me! With the kids doing all the exertion, how come I'm so bloody tired?! (And how come I am not looking forward to the same thing again next Tuesday for the next level?!)

My quadriceps are niggling at me... as if I'd taken them on another 35 k ride today. (They just hate me for yesterday, I know...) Just second day syndrome I guess.

The thought of cooking dinner was beyond me, so I went and got pizza. (Just what I don't deserve on top of a day of no physical exertion.) I've done a conditioner nit-check comb through 2 x heads of hair, and that's just about done me in. At 8.30pm, I'm seriously considering going to bed, which is just about unheard of for me...

I have a range of jobs I should do tomorrow, ranging from the usual laundry, mowing the yard (and trying not to do my back in - but I have to as it's gotten ridiculous..) and a heap of netball stuff. I have my swim squad in the afternoon/evening, so that will have to do me for exercise. (On top of mowing.) So perhaps going to bed and facing it all tomorrow is would be the most sensible move.

I am aiming for an early morning get up on Saturday morning for the community bike ride... and I am trying to figure out how to farm out all three kids for several hours on Sunday so I can go on a special BUG (Bicycle User Group) ride. Despite being ok now with leaving them home alone a couple of hours at a time, I can't quite bring myself to do it for several hours. Several meaning maybe 6 or 7 in this case by the time I drive about 30-40 mins to the starting point.

The Triplet Captain is still away... he's just informed me he'll be back Friday next week. I won't hold my breath, though this time I will kill somebody if it gets pushed back like it often does. (Likely someone from his work responsible for getting the stupid project over there in the first place, but don't start me on that right now...)

I might be finally doing my bit with regard to training rides, but the kids aren't, so that following weekend we'll have to be doing something of decent size. He is also frustrated over there in KL not being able to do any riding either. (He isn't the Weakest Link in this bike riding family though.)

So, me = Bad Tired. No point staying up fighting it. Should chase the Tweenager and the Teenager to bed as well. (Which will wear me down even more... it is always such an epic task. - thank god the 8 year old is still so good in that respect - one out of three ain't bad?) I don't think I could bring myself to go to bed while they are still up. Imagine what time they would take themselves off to bed then! The time will come, I am sure, when I will end up doing just that.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I rode.

35.42 km
ride time: 2 hours, 3 min
Av speed 17.19 kph
Max speed 74.9 kph (wtf?!)

A few hills. Did more standing up on the pedals.

I am tired.



Be careful what you say..

This morning I'm chatting to Ms 8.. or rather, Ms 8 is chatting at me. (As I am doing a desperation-measures nit comb through before school.) She was telling me about how at school they had to write a paragraph about each member of the family. And how she had trouble spelling what her dad did - and that the teacher didn't know how to spell 'hydrographer' either (because she didn't know what it was...! - she had the same problem last year - perhaps I should go up to the school with a note to all teachers putting them straight on what the kids' Dad does, and while I'm at it, give half of them a lesson in how to pronounce our surname - it was wrong again when Ms 11's name was called at assembly!)

Anyway, after I put her straight on the spelling. (It's easy - hydro means water, graphy - means measure), curiosity got the better of me and I asked what she wrote about me.

"I wrote 'my mum says the only thing she's good at is avoiding housework'..."

There goes my reputation! Apparently the teacher wrote "Me too" next to it, though, so she may not talk about me in whispers in the staffroom.

It's probably just as well she used general terms and didn't say 'I don't have a clue what mum does all day, but every day when I come home she's on the computer."

Maybe I should tell her that next time she should say that her mum is a blogger. They probably won't know what that is either, but they might do better at spelling it!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007


What the hell?

It's just gone 11pm. Last of the three has been nagged off to bed more than half an hour ago. Suddenly I'm aware of this thumping noise from upstairs.


Still the thumping continues. Sheesh. I leave my skype conversation with Marc and tippy toe upstairs...

Light on in Ms 13's room. As I appear in her doorway I see her in the middle of her bedroom floor just as she spins around and sees me. She is clutching her mp3 player, with the headphones on.

'What on earth are you doing?'

'Um... dancing... .... I... ah... suppose I must have been making a noise?"


Earlier, after chasing Ms 11 to bed, I hear sobbing that sounds like it's Ms 8, who has been in bed for at least half an hour.

I bolt up. What's the matter?

Seems Ms 11 was so annoyed (to the point of crying!) that her little sister had failed, yet again, to remove her brush from the electric toothbrush base that they share, that she had to go and "TICKLE" her... Never mind the fact that she was just about asleep (or should have been.)

I threaten Ms 11 with going up and tickling, or jabbing, her whenever I discover, after bedtime, something that she has failed to do that annoys me. She realised pretty damn quickly that that would mean a hell of a lot of harrasment after she was quite possibly asleep. One suitably chastened child there... but sometimes you wonder don't you...

Marc is all "LMAO" about the first one. But then he's over THERE, and I am HERE, chasing malingering teenagers (and tweenagers) to bed every bloody night.


Hah.. other than that I have had a fairly good day.

This morning I had to go to a special School assembly to see Ms 11 inducted onto the Student Council. Nice 'tear to the eye and proud of her' moment, and one where you feel all warm and glowing about the positives the school has offered your kids .. let me see.. *counting*.. this is the tenth year now. (Plenty of things I get annoyed about, but today was a positive day. Pretty much.)

I came home, and went back up there an hour later to have a chat with her class teacher about making sure she is able to 'share' her Big Ride experience with the class. And other stuff about how she is doing.

And I took up that box of books, and the librarian loved them. Took them all, so I judged pretty well. And I gave a pile of kids music CDs to one of the kindy teachers, which were also appreciated.

I went to my personal trainer class, and she worked me a bit harder. Felt pretty good about it all, except when she upped the weights on the 'fly'? - on back, hold dumbell in each hand, hold out to side, bring up and meet in the middle. That one. My arm muscles are pathetic. And even though she was supporting my arms, I was scared I would drop them on myself, because there is no way in hell I could have held them up myself. Oh me of little faith in my own ability. (I felt almost the same when she upped the weights on that the last time, so I can only presume she knows what she is doing.)

She also tried me doing a bike workout to work on my hill climbing... with this pretty cool, urgent sounding music to pedal to. But the bike sizing/set up was such that I felt like I was straining something untoward in my left buttock. Freak out time! .. don't want that to happen! So I stopped. Just have to accept that I am VERY paranoid... to the extent that I may err on the side of caution. (Particularly 3 weeks out from the Big Ride.)

I also went out this evening and found myself some more voluntary work! Pfft, as if I needed it!! But I have offered to do the website for the Bicycle User Group that we recently joined. I have enough knowledge, that with some guidance, I can do it, rather than them pay the web designer who set up the site for them in the first place. It is a bit of a selfish move as well... I want to learn more, and maybe open some doors for myself. We'll see.

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Monday, February 19, 2007


A little bit of this and a little bit of that...

29.59 km.
Ride time: 1:41:08
Av. speed: 17.58 kph
Max speed. 41.34 kph

And I found an extra hill by trying a 'short cut' along a track (cross country track near the lake) and came out in the next suburb/village at the bottom of a hill. Duh!

Backing up for 1 hour swim class in an hour's time.

Yes, I do need the time on the bike.

It was a week and a day since I last rode, and, yes, well, I could feel it.

Plan for Wednesday. Further.


No "after" shots of clean up yet. Just discovered the camera battery was flat. Bit of a problem this camera battery actually. I think we need to do something about it before the Ride. It's on charge and I will oblige for those that have requested.

I must also actually take the big bags and boxes of stuff out of the house and to appropriate places.

Something that made me laugh today:

This letter to the editor (Sydney Morning Herald, today)
Why is Dick Cheney coming to Australia? Is he planning to buy us? Is he planning to steal us? Is he planning to take our PM on a hunting trip?

Tony Turner Tuross Head

That last one is what you call wishful thinking.


Something that made me nod my head soberly:

This letter to the editor (first one on this page - though tomorrow I will probably have to change the link when it is no longer the default url for the letters page.)

What a way to start Valentine's Day: at 7am blissful sleep is shattered by the door buzzer. Open the door to be find four guys looking like Shrek's brothers, all wearing pink singlets. The boss sports a gold necklace as thick as rope with a diamond-encrusted chainsaw attached. "Move yer car, mate, we've got a tree to remove."

Not the three-storey-high river gum, more than 50 years old, that is home to thousands of native birds, probably the last "great" tree left in Randwick?


I stumble out of the house and around the corner to a scene out of a Spielberg movie: a pink leviathan the size of a house fills the street while half a dozen pink-singleted loggers stare at me and my little car that is in the way. "No @$#&ing way!" I exclaim loudly.

One of the pink singlets snickers as if he has heard and laughed at this powerless exclamation before. "Yep," says the gold chainsaw man, "council orders, mate."

"See up there, the big ears?" We both strain to see the very small swelling around one of five major limbs. "Yep, big ears, gotta go. Could maybe in a big wind possibly fall."

Fifty years to grow, 50 minutes to go. Why?

One phrase, one crummy little twisted phrase that has come to represent everything that is causing the cancer of mediocrity to eat out the heart of our society: occupational health and safety.

Occupational health and safety, a well-intentioned piece of legislation, was designed to rein in the yahoos or eradicate the cowboys from high-rise building sites. But it has become a bureaucratic excuse to cover butts because of the increasing propensity of Australians to follow our American cousins' vexatious litigious behaviour. A job-creation scheme for dodgy lawyers and spineless yes-men is a more accurate description of the way it has turned out.

If OH&S had been with us from the start, the wheel would not have come around, the Wright brothers would never have taken flight and Neil Armstrong would never have taken a giant step. With OH&S, there should be no trees, nobody could use a beach but everyone's safety would be ensured.

But what is the point of safety when life on Earth no longer exists?

Ian McLoughlin Randwick


Oh and a link for all of you with tantruming toddlers out there (and all of us who once had tantruming toddlers!)I think you'll enjoy this. I love the pseudonym for the kid. "Lets call her Vesuvius." LOL.


I found something else that was MIA in the house! One of the vacuum cleaner attachments - the round brushy one that is good for cobwebs, and walls and stuff. No excuse now. Another one for the 'it'll turn up' methodology that I tend to operate under. If you wait long enough...


I have a busy afternoon ahead of me - swim squad - probably 2km worth of laps of varying intensity. Taking youngest to a tennis lesson tryout after school. Picking up eldest + others from netball training in town. Dumping her at home and racing on to a netball committee meeting. And in the middle of it all buying and feeding my poor children something easy.. probably frozen pies. (Well, der, I'll heat them up of course.) They won't mind... I'll just feel bad for giving them not-so-healthy, convenience meals. Again.)

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Sunday, February 18, 2007


Opportunity cost .. again

The thing is.. it seems that no matter what you do decide to do.. even if it's 'worthy'.. something or someone always makes you feel like it would have been more important to have done something else.

So, yes, I got the 'are you going for a bike ride?' pressure ... from afar. The disappointment in me is palpable, even over skype. But the thing is, there was nowhere far enough I could have ridden today that would have been of any use. There was no way I could take everybody. And after leaving the younger two at home a couple of times yesterday, I didn't feel I should be doing it again today for any significant length of time.

Meanwhile this afternoon the clean up had taken on a life of its own.. powered by Caitlin, really. And it really was something that desperately had to be tackled, because every time I walked down the stairs, through the playroom, I would all but close my eyes and shudder. It is not a good way to start the day.

This was what Zoe's 'area' in the playroom looked like. (She and Ali share a room. A not very big room. So they have desks in the playroom. And they have created sort of kingdoms around them....) I took this photo a week or so ago when I was gleefully viewing these other 'honest photos' taken by other mums with less than immaculate houses. I was going to submit them, but, much like the housework, I've just not got around to it! This is one of them.

It was as bad, if not worse by today. So, Caitlin took charge of Zoe's area. Next thing (just after I'm getting the 'I should be riding guilts') I get called up to help. She's done this:

Just about everything out of the desk and dumped on the sofa bed.

Oh god. I guess it had to happen sooner or later.

So we spent the rest of the afternoon sorting it.. A few bags of garbage, and half the recycling bin full of paper later, and it was looking a bit more respectable. And as well we did a cull of books from the playroom bookshelf. I now have a pile of books to take to the school library for first refusal. And another pile for a second hand book shop. We kept a few kiddy books that they couldn't bring themselves to throw out just yet. Ones they'd enjoyed... ones I'd enjoyed reading to them. Plus most of the Aussie animal story ones. There are some lovely ones. It's very hard to part with so much of your kids' reading history - through baby and toddlerhood to early school age. (Now my last baby is 8 and a good reader for her age; so many of those books would never really get looked at again.) I had kept a few of my books from my childhood, and have learnt that they just don't cut it against all the glorious new stuff out there, so there is no point in us hanging on to them all "for their kids." Better that some other kids out there get some enjoyment out of them now.

A 'during' shot.

They got culled onto one shelf.. and the top shelf is now all for Zoe's books, leaving the tall narrow bookshelf in the bedroom for Alison.

I also now have a huge box AND a big garbage bag of stuffed toys and the like to give away. And Caitlin made Zoe a little play area 'kingdom' under the stairs... and she is under instructions that the desk is for sitting at and writing on. Not a backdrop for all the other 'worlds' that she builds.

And we have a few things like this to take to school to see if they want them for the props department:

No I didn't buy those! Alison was given them for her birthday last year, but they aren't really her style!

I ran the vacuum cleaner around, and we managed to put the sofa bed back up into sofa mode. About time. It all looks much better, though I'd still like to attack Alison's zone. And their bedroom. Wardrobe and drawers. Scary stuff still.

Maybe tomorrow I'll take some AFTER shots to help with the motivation factor. Kimberly at least will understand! In fact I can credit both her, and shishyboo's recent clean ups as inspiration.

As always, when it comes to helping around the house, it is impossible to get all three into it at once. Zoe kept creeping off into the new play zone Cait had set up for her. And Alison kept disappearing all together. Full credit to Cait this time for making it all happen. I have had to point out to her that sometimes Alison is helpful when she is not, so it all works out in the wash. And I really, really, appreciated her efforts today. Even if I didn't get out on the bike, and noone got out of the house. It's a major league and way, way overdue achievement.

And when I get up tomorrow morning and walk past it all looking so. much. better. I will feel SO uplifted, I will be inspired to get on the bike and ride, and ride and ride. In between all the other commitments tomorrow. Somehow. (I promise, Marc!)

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Seriously off my rocker

Some days are just like that. And one more little thing will send me off my rocker.

I'm having stressy dreams. Last night it was about bike riding, and the Big Ride. Probably brought on by posting, just before bed last night, that it was exactly one month till D-day. And I was feeling bad about not having ridden my bike this week. And I know Marc is concerned about our collective bike fitness, but mine in particular.

So last night I dreamt that he got up and went for a training ride himself. (As if to show me up as a lazy slob or something.) In the dream I wake up as he gets home. "Where did you go?" ... "Blayney" he said. Blayney?!! Some inconsequential country town 2 hundred odd kilometres west of Sydney (so around 800km from here)... For god's sake, how on earth did I come up with Blayney?

Then later we are 'sort of' on the rest day of the bike ride... and staying in some place, and I am getting all stressed about where we are leaving the bikes, in case they get pinched. And the kids are swimming in a pool. And for some reason their old preschool teachers are there. And one of them is floating around in the pool in her sleeping bag, for heaven's sake. . And then next thing Marc decides to leave and ride ahead, and I have to follow with the kids (how that works with him supposedly riding the triplet I don't know.) So I am trying to stay calm, as if this is a test of my ability... and then next thing my mother and sister turn up on bikes.. (As if!)... my sister all red faced, and wearing a pink? shirt! And so I am underwhelmed that they are there... and stressing about coping.. and I wake up as I am hyperventilating because I can't find our tandem. It's been stolen.

Somewhere in there I was also having a dream about other stuff being stolen... sort of arriving home (though it is not my current house), and seeing gaps where the TV and computer should be, and pointing at half screaming, half gasping because I can't breathe.

Do you think I'm going mad?

So today is supposedly Clean up our House day... And I just flipped my lid when I stuck my head in Cait's room to wake her up (it was only 10am!) I point to a light blue item of clothing on the floor of her room. "What is THAT?".. knowing full well it was her dirty school uniform.

"I am washing NOW , and it had BETTER go in the wash, right NOW". And I continue on downstairs, collecting the dirty laundry from the middle bathroom as I go. I put the coloured load of washing on first. So I figure I give her enough leeway.

I have since put on the light wash.. and just now, as I pass the middle bathroom, I see the shirt on the floor in there!

I flipped. She may have three shirts for school, so Monday and Tuesday are right, but it means I have to make sure I've washed that one for Wednesday.. (and thus if I have to do that what is the point of having three shirts), and anyway, it's the goddam principle.

I did my 'nana. (To use a favourite phrase of strauss!)

And I ranted about the clean up progress so far in the playroom. Zoe has bits and pieces stacked in all sorts of corners, as part of some combination of her own made up Fisher Price world, and Barbie world combined, and anything else she can lay her hands on combined. Wooden blocks, marble maze structures. Gah... it's everywhere. And I know it's kind of cruel to make her dismantle her imagination, but the place needs to be vacuumed at some point in time. (I hate to imagine when the last time was...)

So, they are all upstairs suitably chastened and .. um... attacking the clean up. I had pointed to this gigantic tub of soft toys and said "These must be culled!....I mean, you are all beyond Bananas in Pyjamas and Lulu dolls now, for heaven's sake."

Just a little while ago I hear this rather upbeat and cheeky "Mother! Oh mother!!"... I grumble. What have they got to be cocky about?

Cait comes downstairs. "We just emptied the soft toy box completely, and guess what we found right at the bottom?!" She stretches out her hand, and dangles these elastic bands... for the sleeping mats. They were lost - oh - a year ago - and their 'loss' was discovered while we were preparing for last year's Big Ride. I had made up another set from some elastic I had kicking around at home, but that elastic had gone floppy, and so I've had 'new stronger elastic' on my shopping list (for the past several weeks actually - just hadn't got around to it.)

I had to laugh. And I hope you will too, Marc (reading this over in KL...) After you finish rolling your eyes.

They are making me laugh some more, because Cait has just come downstairs again, saying "You should see how many of the Barbie dolls are dismembered!" [Ed: OK, she didn't actually say that.. she's just asked me while reading this post what "disembered" [sic] means... but whatever she said, that was certainly the gist of it!]

"And Alison just said to Zoe "What have you been playing Zoe? Midsomer Murders ?" "

Well I had better hang this second load of washing out, and join in the fun. I use the term "fun" advisedly, because the sounds from upstairs are fluctuating between hilarity and loud voices raised at each other in ire.

If nothing else, we might try to have some more fun taking photos of Stuff! that really, truly, we just do not need.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007



Do you ever sit around at night, growing more and more tired, knowing that you really need to take yourself to bed.. but somehow the effort involved in doing that seems too much?

So you just sit, doing nothing of consequence or importance, feeling even vaguely nauseous because you are tired.. but you still sit. And sit. Knowing you have to finish up in the kitchen before you trundle upstairs. So you put it off, and off, and off...

You don't? Bet you jump out of bed all bright eyed and bushy tailed at sunrise as well...

Gah, I wish I wasn't such a night owl. (Because shortly I will suddenly get a second wind, so I'll still be going well after midnight.) I wish I didn't mind getting up in the dark as much as I don't mind hanging round at night - in the dark. Funny how I find one "acceptable" and the other not.

So much for the big plans to bike ride this morning, and all the 'Go Tracey Go' motivation racketing through cyberspace into my blogspace. (I really milked it in that post didn't I?!)

It rained! I woke up to the sound of rain around 3.45 am, and so had to go around the house (down and up 2 flights of stairs) closing windows. Barely another hour of sleep and I woke up with the alarm at 5 am, peered out the window into pitch black, and was actually somewhat relieved to realise it was still raining. (I don't do any form of sleep interruption in the night at all well anymore... I know that will sound really pathetic to anyone struggling with crying babies...sorry!)

With daylight saving still happening, but the days getting shorter again, sunrise isn't till around 6.30am (civil twilight around 6am). Which leaves one whole hour of dark still - if you are mad enough to set your alarm for 5 that is! Perhaps if it had been light already, I may have felt gung ho enough to stick the bike on the roof rack and head in to ride in the rain and pretend to be a hard core cycling nut. Sometimes I would like to be that nutty, because afterwards you feel kind of charged with some weird sort of manic adrenalin.

But not in the dark AND wet. No, no, no. Back to bed for me. Back to bed, then sleeping through the re-set alarm to panic dream about sleeping in till 10.15 am so that my daughter missed going to a netball rep squad training at 10.00. (Which she really had at 10.00 today!) In the dream I find out that despite the rain, it was still on, and the coach (not the same as the one in real life - you know how dreams are weird like that) was vague about whether she was still going to be eligible for rep selection. Arrgh! I was feeling so terrible about it all... Imagine my relief when I really woke up, and saw that it wasn't quite 9.00! And it was still raining! (And thus I had time to ring the real coach and find out that it was called off!)

The rest of the day comprised of 'hours' of netball registration. Me assisting (because I am on the committee) for two hours in one place. Then a mad dash to get to town by 2pm to register the eldest in a club in there (because that daughter plays rep in there; our association being 'new' -it was formerly a 'club'under the umbrella of the other one - and not having the numbers in her age group to form a rep team. And if that makes sense to anyone it's a miracle..heck, most of you won't even know what netball is!)

Registering in there had its own challenges because of the choice of clubs, tied in with training afternoon availability, and the blatant snubbing of my daughter by the girl from 'our' area club/association who she has played rep with for the last 2 years. This other girl has become (according to my daughter) one of the 'plastics'... Even I can see that she (and others from the rep team) are just a bit 'too cool for school'. Luckily Cait is pretty unfazed by it. I think she had hoped that she would be included for her netball ability (they work well together on court), but it was clearly not so, and so she reckons it doesn't bother her. She wouldn't choose to hang with them normally, so, we joined her up with a different club, on a different training afternoon, and she's well out of that company, really. For all her faults, she is, at least, not (yet - and I hope not ever) one of the type who have to try to act all cool and smart and cliquey (and call other people names to look cool - or whatever the latest variant on 'cool' is.)

Quite topically, we finished off the day watching the movie 'Mean Girls' on TV. Bit of mindless trash, but it had a message worth reinforcing.

I feel mentally drained, and a bit bummed that I didn't ride or do any exercise. The rain stopped and it got really hot and humid in the afternoon, so it was hard to feel like bolting out and doing anything energetic. So I didn't.


I hope to reacquaint myself with the vacuum cleaner tomorrow, and have a bit of a clean out binge. I have to do something in the house cleaning vein that is of some consequence. Something that will look still 'done' in a couple of weeks, rather than a couple of hours.

I had better reaquaint myself with a bike too, because, a month from today, we'll be heading off on our 9 day/500km ride. So bike cred, rather than vacuum cleaner cred, is probably, in the scheme of things, more important!

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Friday, February 16, 2007


Go Tracey Go

Lately I've done a lot of whingeing, and resolving, and trying, and promising... So much I'm wouldn't have the energy to link to every mention of them, even if you wanted me to. I'm not really on top of much at all..
Sometimes I think I need to outsource my motivation from somewhere. I don't know why, but this ad keeps coming to mind..

Although I've always thought it was something of a negative campaign. And anyway, The Chaser proved that in real life it doesn't really work...

Still and all, perhaps I could do with a No Tracey No squad to try to make me get off the computer, or stop putting foods I know I shouldn't be eating in my mouth.

Everything I ever learnt about positive reinforcement (my university psychology units have got to come in handy somewhere) tells me that variably rewarding 'good' behaviour works much better than "punishment". Quite often when I've actually made a GOOD choice over a food decision (multigrain, vegies, low GI... ) I wish I had a private (unseen by anyone else) cheer squad to do a "Go Tracey Go" to me. It might work better than the self-talking 'yeah go me'.

ANYWAY... Today I tried to get on top of some of the Stuff! I desperately needed to do. I didn't have to be anywhere in particular till about 3.00. Sad to say, nothing much in the way of cleaning got done. And I didn't get on the bike. And I haven't done any of the 'homework' exercises from my personal training session.

But I did get the dishwasher emptied by about 10.00, and the washing up. (And if you'd seen what I am like usually, that is definitely a Go Tracey Go thing.) And a few loads of washing. And I decided I had to get netball committee stuff out of the way. So at least I got some stuff done on that.

And I had my swimming squad class this evening. And I swam it all, with no back problems. (And I feel gooood). Go Tracey Go. And the massage seems to have helped. I had one morning (the next one) of not being stiff when I woke up! Then I went to the training session yesterday and had to (in a very controlled manner) move heavy stuff around, including my own body weight...

And so then I was stiff again this morning...

Anyway, I am in the middle of getting my 'half bike' ready to go to town early in the morning for the community ride. Which has meant putting the rack on the car... but I am going to do it, to get up at Some Ungodly Hour (it'll be dark - stupid daylight saving by this time of summer..).. but then I will have earnt myself a bit of a Go Tracey Go.. in amongst all the times when I really need a very very stern No Tracey No. Maybe someone should ring The Chaser guys for me...


Thursday, February 15, 2007


Opportunity Cost-itis.

One of the few definitions that ever stuck in my head from my junior high school Commerce classes was the concept of Opportunity Cost. - "The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action."

Opportunity cost doesn't have to be assessed in monetary terms, but rather can be assessed in terms of anything that is of value to the person or persons doing the assessing. I suppose you could just call it 'making a decision between 2 things', but it is getting to the point where, on an everyday basis, I get myself so worked up comparing the opportunity costs of way more than two things, or action. Over what I could/should do during the day - with the 'costs' being stuff like boredom, or the likelihood of getting a sore back, or the likelihood of being interrupted, or how hot or dirty I will get doing it... or how much preparation beforehand is required.. (and the list is endless really...) - that I don't do any of it!

That's when I wonder if there is such a thing as Opportunity Cost-itis.. and whether I might have it (and what can I do to get over it..)

A quick google using 'inability to make decisions' led me to Dependent Personality Disorder, which is a bit confronting, and I don't think I quite fit all the criteria....(it's bit scary how many I do, though...). Maybe I should just look up the dictionary under "lazy" and "procrastination" (or just plain 'addiction to the internet'). Actually, every one of those 'tendencies' are probably bound up in it all as well.

But seriously... every day I spend so much time weighing up which of the many household chores (that I hate so much) I should do first, I end up doing none of them, and opting for the easier, more or less decision free option of sitting here. [Then I run out of time to tackle any decent project.. so I may as well sit here and have another coffee till I have to be somewhere that I have actually managed to arrange or commit to.]

I am even doing it today over tackling the bike riding blog posts that my OH is hassling me to complete, rather than posting on here...

Poor Time management skills are quite possibly involved as well. If something is more tedious.. involves more concentration... then I put it off.. and do something easier... and I don't allocate myself appropriate time frames to do certain things. (And in some case then the not-done job just gets bigger and bigger, and requires a bigger time frame to accomplish it in, so I put it off some more, because I don't have the time.. and.... arrghhh.. it's all a vicious circle.

Of OC-itis.

Does that make sense? And if it does... how on earth do I cure myself of it? (And please, please, noone do what my GP once did when I tried to talk once about having trouble with getting housework done.. She started telling me what she did, which of course just made me feel more insecure and useless, because, seriously, if it was as easy as doing what other people say they just get in and do, don't you think I would have done it by now?!!)

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Self indulgence, anyone?

Believe it or not I've never had a proper, paid-for - 'remedial' - massage before. With the combination of all my back stuff, and stiff muscles from the bike riding, and the weights.. and even the swimming... and with our manic 500k bike ride looming, I decided it might be worth seeing if a massage really could help with some of the constant stiffness I've been feeling. Yep, hard to believe this 44 year old crock of a body could be protesting just a bit at all I've been expecting it to do, with barely a thankyou or much in the way of any TLC whatsoever, other than some frantic stretches to alleviate the various back aches and twinges that I routinely get.)

The last few days I've woken up feeling really.. creaky. And sore. I'd had the card of someone that had been recommended to me. So I bit the self-indulgence bullet, and took the 9am appointment she offered me for this morning. It turned out she was barely 200m from my house. And she was relatively cheap - as massages go. ($35 for 1 1/2 hours.)

What can I say? The jury is still out on it for the moment. Seems my muscles are so tight, she couldn't do as much (in the one and a half hours) that she might normally do (consequently I'm not experiencing any earth shattering 'oh my god I feel wonderful' epiphany over it. She was working pretty lightly (according to her) yet it pretty much bloody hurt in a lot of places - places that she could feel were tight. (And there were a lot of them!) You know, that feeling when you rub a sore muscle, and you do the ooh.. ah... ohh.. owww... yessss, that bit THERE...yeoowww ... that then subsides a bit (apparently the muscle does relax a bit once you press on that sore bit for several seconds)- until you start massaging again and find it again...

Yes, well, I suppose the last twenty odd years of various kinds and degrees of stress loading are just not going to disappear in 90 minutes. No miracles here.

Aside from that, ironically, lying on my stomach for that long wasn't too kind to my lower back... (though towards the end we stuck a pillow underneath my tummy, and that helped.)

And, boy, I felt pretty woozy when I got up.. and half staggered home (glad she was only round the corner and I didn't have to drive actually!)

And then, (ironically again), the rest of the day I was feeling like I shouldn't be doing anything to 'jeopardise' what good she might have done! (Now that's silly, but somehow this vague nausea (apparently a deep massage gets toxins moving...).. and my general apathy seeing it was the worst day of the month anyway (my official sooking day).. meant that I didn't test myself on anything more strenuous than hanging out some washing. (Bad girl, no bike ride... *grovels to the bike riding coach possibly reading this from KL...*)

Yes, so... Supposedly a massage can help you sleep better. So maybe I'll see whether I feel just bloody fantastic in the morning. I do believe, tonight, that I feel vaguely less uptight, physically. Maybe.

Oh yeah.. and when she started - down on the back of my calves - she says 'oh.. so you have some varicose veins here', and I said 'What? Do I really?'... Like I need more proof that my body is really starting to crack up on me...

Geez, growing old is a bit of a crock, isn't it... And for me to continue on doing what I like doing, maybe there has to now be room for a bit of self indulgence by way of a guilt-free massage every now and then.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007


A mention! An honorable one, at that!

An Honorable Mention is a synonym for 'runner up', or 'consolation prize'.. and 'you didn't actually win, but..." But right here and now, you'd think I'd won an Oscar or an Emmy. (Funny, the first word that sprang to mind there was 'Logie', but at least 50% of people likely to read this wouldn't have had a clue what I was on about.)

I entered Scribbit's Write Away contest for February, with this post... and blow me down if I didn't get an Honorable Mention. I'm so gobsmacked, I'm still picking my jaw up off the ground; I'm incapable of being nonchalantly blasé about it. I'm so chuffed, I'm even spelling "Honorable" the North American way as homage.

I need to thank (and link!) Chilihead for paying my post any attention whatsoever.. particularly when I finally submitted it in the wee hours of the cut off day (North American time.) I will have to be careful of this International Dateline loophole.

I can only assume it was the love-cynic bit that struck a chord, because I still think I need a whole lot of work in terms of succinctness with my writing (and, sheesh, I even had to check I'd made the right noun out of succinct there!) . (Husband's comment: not "hey, go you" or 'awwww shucks, darling...' but "geez didn't leave much out did you?")

Call me needy, but getting a pat on the back for something I've done alright at is .. very.. nice....very ... appreciated....

And, you know, go read everyone else's post, because they're all good. And congrats to Rarely Home Mom who was the winner!! And Janet at Dance Through who also got an honorable mention.

Linkety link link link!

And back to the biking blog tomorrow...

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Monday, February 12, 2007


The topic is, of course, love.

Well, why wouldn't it be, with this being the week of the Festival of Overpriced Roses and all? I wish I could take credit for that tag, but I picked it from an article by some other cynic in the paper on the weekend. And, at the risk of offending the romantics out there, I like it! It just so happens to click with the way we do (or rather "don't do") Valentines Day around here.

I'd been debating whether to attempt a post on the topic of "Love" since reading other entries to Scribbit's Write Away contest. I'm not prone to waxing lyrical about romance, and keeping it 'non-mushy' is fairly critical when I know that my Other Half might be reading my blog. (Hello Mr Unromantic!). But when I read that the judge was a 'love-cynic', and then I checked the world times and realised that the earth's rotation and placement of the international date line gave me a few more hours till the deadline, even though it was already Monday here, I figured fate had sent me a last minute invitation.

I'd already tossed around a few ideas in my head about how I might describe our particular 'love story'. I was working on dinky titles like "A double canoe, and a bicycle built for two", because that pretty much describes us. But, now that I've mentioned it, the "Festival of the Overpriced Roses", is a very apt starting point, and a pertinent theme.

As fate would have it, indeed, I happened to be chatting to him yesterday morning, as he tinkered with one of our tandem bikes. Somehow the topic of Valentines Day came up, and I mentioned how he freaked me out when the first February 14 of our relationship loomed way back in 1986.

"You told me you had something you needed to talk to me about, and so of course my heart sank, because I thought, 'Oh no! He wants to break up! Only 3 months after I finally got over my fear of ruining our friendship with a 'relationship'!' "

"And then you said, "I just wanted to let you know that I don't believe in buying overpriced flowers for a commercial thing like Valentines Day.' "

"And I said 'Oh thank God, is that all? I couldn't care less about ridiculously priced cut flowers that will die in a few days.' "

"But you did give me a Valentines Day card that year. It had a little van pictured on the front, which you added a VW logo to, so it looked like Mex (the Kombi he had at the time - numberplate MEX-... ) ... and it said "Looking for love, Valentine?" And on the inside it said"I deliver". " ....

"You don't remember that do you?"

"Nup.... Geez, how do you remember all that stuff?!" he asked.

I just shook my head and rolled my eyes. Is it a male/female thing? Or just him? It's not that he has a bad memory per se. He could probably tell you who was playing in the Australian cricket team at that time, and describe any significant run chases, or close clashes. To be fair though, I can't remember exactly what I gave him, so I suppose I should be careful of double standards! (Probably nothing because he'd just announced he didn't do Valentines Day, but then he went gave me a damned card! Which I remember well because the romantic within has saved the few things like that he ever did give me. They're.. um.. somewhere.. stashed away. For our children to find when we're old or dead, and to exclaim "Oh my god, can you imagine Dad ever writing that to Mum?!" )

Needless to say, it is now 21 years down the track, (nearly 18 of those married) and we have continued our unromantic trend of not supporting the florist industry - in February, or any time of the year. Nor the jewellery, or diamond industries. The first gift he ever bought me was an abseiling harness! I did buy him a watch once, but he lost it when we were rafting one time! We have really always been more interested in buying items (either together, for each other, or for "us") that enabled us to do stuff together. (The snow-rated sleeping bags that zipped together were a wonderfully romantic idea that backfired because we got too warm.) And we tend to buy them whenever; not necessarily dictated by birthdays and christmas, and definitely not Valentines day. We are a bit rebellious, practical and unsentimental like that.

By the time that "first" Valentines day occurred I had already landcrewed for him in a couple of canoe marathons, and decided that running around looking after him while he got all the 'glory' wasn't as much fun as it looked, and, hey, I'd rather paddle too, thanks very much. So during 1986 we bought a double kayak, and started paddling together in canoe marathons, convincing friends or relatives to drive cars between check points, feed us, massage us, shake their heads at our insanity, and send us on our way.

Somehow our burgeoning relationship survived my very steep learning curve in the art of long distance paddling - with some excruciatingly slow times, and even me once having to withdraw halfway through day 3 of a 5 day marathon. (I got back in and did the last two days.) We got better. Our technique improved and our teamwork improved, and we even became competitive in our class in the (shorter) state marathon series races. I even discovered that I was a bit competitive too! I couldn't say we never argued, but we certainly formed a close bond with our paddling, and got to the point of having a chuckle at other couples who didn't seem to have quite the same non-verbal understanding and intuition. And if we were still talking to each other after 500km in a canoe, then perhaps we had something going for us.

We were also doing a lot of other outdoor activities - canyoning, bushwalking, cross country skiing, rafting, and even a bit of bike riding. He probably also doesn't remember one Feb 14 when we went canyoning overnight, floating on airbeds in a narrow, cave-like canyon, with glowworms twinkling above. Well he probably remembers that, but I doubt he remembers a quick kiss in the dark under those 'stars'. "Valentines Day, eat your heart out," I thought. There couldn't be anything more perfect than sharing this. This was my kind of romance.

Don't get me wrong. In the early days, there was what you'd call passion. Well, parked cars, and kissing, long telephone conversations, and gazing into each others eyes. He doesn't remember the gazing bit either, of course! Or so he says.

But I do, and I also remember an article I read many many years later where a woman described her relationship with her husband has having transitioned over the years from 'starry-eyed' to 'steadfast'. (Her story had an impact on me as her experience was similar in that with her husband she discovered the joys of camping, roughing it a bit, and challenging herself.)

It describes perfectly what we have. Well I think it does. Somewhere along the line, you realise that your love has transformed from the stars in the eyes, to something that runs much deeper. Perhaps others are able to maintain the fireworks over many years, but we aren't in that category. I just simply cannot imagine anyone else that I would want to be with for 'as long as we both shall live'.

I do recall probably the only other Valentines card we ever bothered with - somewhere in there, in the early days. It went something like 'For you I would climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest ocean,... collapse exhausted and muddy on your carpet..." Very apt. (Especially when it's me doing the collapsing.) Maybe they just don't make Valentines cards like they used to, or maybe we just stopped bothering to look, because really, we don't need them. I can't explain why it is so special to me, but actions speak louder than words on cards, and what we do together, as a challenge, forms the glue that binds us, and which seems to work quite well at repairing the sort of surface cracks that are bound to appear in any relationship.

We still own the double kayak, and we've had a few paddles in the last ten years but it's not the easiest pastime to balance with family commitments. It'll keep.

The latest chapter of our lives involves bicycles. Bicycles built for two, and even a bicycle built for three, as we envelop our three children in our steadfast "passion" and our "love".

And, so, while noting its occurence this week, we will continue to eschew the Festival of the Overpriced Flowers. He left today for 2 weeks working overseas, but in no way would I expect any delivery of flowers or the like. (I always reckon that if he started giving me flowers, I'd start thinking he had something to hide!)

Me...? I'll take a tandem over roses or diamonds any day as a declaration of his commitment to me and his commitment to "us". I don't think we need any more of them right now (we have 4 at the moment!).. But last week he bought a new cluster - gears that is, not diamonds! - for the tandem that I ride with our eldest daughter. (So we can go up hills easier!) And this week's special purchases will involve new bike knicks and gloves to make sure everyone in the family has the right gear to ride 500 km (in just over a month's time) on our bicycles built for two and three.

And, to prove my commitment, this week I should stop rabbiting on on this blog, and get up to date with the posts on the more important blog. The one about us, and our bike riding. Together.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007


Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your husband...

Yesterday was hot and humid, so any thoughts of going for a big bike training ride mid-afternoon (after I'd done my duty at netball registration) weren't really appealing. Marc tinkered with bikes; we've got a new cluster for my tandem, so that we have a 'grannier' granny gear (I'm going to copyright that term.) And I washed sheets. And read blogs.

When it came over cloudy (with some rumbly storm clouds) we decided at around 4.30 to just take ourselves out, instead of trying to psych the kids up for a tandem ride to anywhere. (I feel like we are treading a fine line with them - between making sure we have all done enough training for the Big Ride, and making them hate us forever for "making" them do all this hard work.)

We've been talking about exploring the forestry roads to the west of our little locality; in fact I wanted to see how possible it would be for me to ride to those personal trainer sessions - as the direct route to her house is down the highway (which, with a narrow shoulder in parts, and B-doubles whizzing by at 100kph, somehow doesn't appeal.) So we headed out on our 'half bikes'- amongst the collection of bikes in our shed that could almost pass for a bike shop, we actually still possess a mountain bike each. And while that's the one I've been using for my 'solo' training rides, it was good to be heading out onto dirt where I'd be glad I had the knobby tyres, instead of cursing.

It turned out to be only about 10 or so km - each way - But there were enough "ups" - some paved, some dirt - for it to be a worthwhile training ride for me. (I am still doing Puffing Billy impersonations - I still maintain that the cough I had for several weeks has set me back quite a way aerobically - so it's training I kind of need. Badly. ) It rained on us a bit, but that just made us cool. Perfect riding weather really!

In terms of riding that route myself, I am still a bit concerned at the thought of being a lone female riding through the bush - although it's hard to imagine any weirdos loitering around up there just in case some mad middle aged woman on a mountain bike comes charging through. (We did talk about the availability of mace - and just the fact that Marc considered it makes the whole idea a bit disconcerting. - I can also imagine me fumbling around trying to reach a spray can out of the back pocket of my cycling jersey. Not.) I suppose the thing that would be most inconvenient is getting a puncture or some other bike problem. I have been taught how to replace a tube, but I've not had to do it alone and under pressure, pathetic, relying-on-my-mechanically-minded-husband female that I am.

So, the jury is still out on me riding it by myself, but it all felt good. Once we'd stopped! (Like bashing your head against a brick wall.) No, no, really! It was really nice riding through the bush - even though it wasn't pristine bushland - you can tell because there are no old trees - it has all been logged at some point. I enjoy being able to ride a bike in that environment. Bit of rough - bit of a challenge - even though I think I'm too old to find enough bravery to make a MTB racer. (Without a childhood history of skidding around on bikes.) For me it's the biking equivalent of bushwalking. It is so close to home, too - only about 3km from our place before you hit dirt and head into the trees. It's almost a crime that we haven't explored all these old forestry roads on our bikes sooner than this. The hills to the west of us are riddled with them.

The best part was that it was a bit of him and me time. We have finally reached the stage where the age of our kids is such that we can lob out for a couple of hours and leave them at home (being couch potatoes) and, really, after all these years, that is gold in itself. A bit of a light at the end of the tunnel for those reading with littlies. It really does happen! And while we've managed, with our tandem/triplet madness, to involve the kids in this bike riding madness of ours, it's good occasionally to be back, just the two of us, doing what we enjoy doing together.

Last night he says to me, "I don't know where I got all this bike riding interest from - it's not like my parents took me bike riding or anything."

"Well, me neither." I said.

"Der" he says. "You got it from me."

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Thursday, February 08, 2007



Australian natives, cont. Another grevillea. For E.



It's the little things sometimes...

Some days you have special moments (like Miscmum's L-O-V-E lunchtime.) And some days, well, you just have to sit back and shake your head. Heads, actually, as the Daddy was equally incredulous (and I made sure to point out that he actually misses a lot of this sort of STUFF when he is away for days/weeks at a time.)

Nothing drastic - but sometimes it's the little things that make you wonder whether you have a handle on this parenting lark. And because in some respects the issue seems somewhat trivial, you don't know how to deal with it. "Am I being unreasonable here?" is a question I often ask myself. "Am I being too tough? Or not tough enough?"

So this morning:

We are getting showered and dressed (and I'm ironing school uniforms) when Ms 8 stomps up to our room, followed by Ms 11. They usually have had their breakfast by now. Ms 8 is crying.. well, one of those half cry, half angry-with-her-sister looks. Uh-oh, something's happened. She also appears to have crumbs or something on her pj top.

"Alison threw brown sugar at me."

*The parents just gape.*

"She what?"

"She threw brown sugar at me."

"Is this true, Alison?"

*Alison sits, head bowed. (Usual M.O. when she knows she's done something wrong*..)



"Well, she wouldn't shut up."


Add to that, Zoe has consequently stomped through the house right up to our room with, no doubt, crumbs of brown sugar falling off her top as she went. [Ed: For evidence apparently, as I was reminded when it was discussed this evening.]

Maybe it's because they are generally good kids, that I don't know how to handle this sort of stuff. What sort of consequences should I deal out? (I'm thinking vacuuming the whole house, actually... ) Or is a 'telling off' enough?

And then, just for variety, just as they are about to walk out, I notice Alison's school cap. (Don't forget in Australia we have school uniforms.) I usually miss seeing it because she rides her bike to school (with helmet), so the hat gets stashed in her bag.

It's beyond 'pre-loved':

I had wanted to get her a new one last year, but she kept telling me they had run out. Hmmmm. I recalled that yesterday's school newsletter had announced that they had the new caps in. I reach for my purse to get her money for a new one.

She has her head bowed and is tearing up.

"What's the matter?!!... "

"Well, I just don't think there is much point." she says.

"Um.. Alison. OK, this might be your last year of school, but you can't wear that all year. (Thinking also that she is on Student Council, so should be looking half decent.) It's really beyond it. And so I'm happy to spend the money on a new one."

More silence till we harass her to respond. Finally we prise it out of her.

"The new ones have SBP on them instead of SB (SB is the name of the school, two words, and P stands for Public.) and I'd be the only one with one of those."

"Sheesh." (Who the hell in the school decided to change the initials anyway, but...)

Ok... well, you can wear Cait's old one then. (I had had their names embroidered on the back of each cap - which shows you how old it is... that was three years ago! Cait is now in her third year of high school. With the name blacked out, it has served as a spare for the last 2 years.

She begrudgingly takes that one. Not happy though.

"Where's the old one then?" I ask.

"In my bag for a spare." (Yeah, right, like you're not going to swap it as soon as you get to school...)

I make her hand it over... (after all, I need photographic evidence for the blog, after which it is going in the bin.)

Marc, I might add, is backing me up in this, and is equally incredulous. And she heads off to school in tears.

Do we qualify for a Horrible Parents Award then?

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007



There seems to be a million and one things, as a parent, to beat yourself up over. Especially if, like me, you have tendencies to compare yourself unfavourably to others, take to heart opinions - of others - and combine a thin skin with an overworked conscience lobe in your brain.

Mostly it's over stuff I feel like I should (or shouldn't) be doing with or for the kids. But many other times it's over the expectations of others.

I beat myself up most of today feeling guilty because, unlike past years, I didn't volunteer to help with timekeeping at my daughters' school swimming carnival. Today I just felt like enjoying watching their races, helping the youngest get her swimming cap on before each race, and doing the sunscreen watch, making sure, for once, they didn't come home with faces like lobsters. (And given my niggly back, I really didn't feel like standing for hours at the end of a pool, or perching in between races on the most uncomfortable bench seats I've ever encountered, and leaning over to watch them touch the wall - nup - not a good thing for me to do at the moment.)

But no matter the permission note I'd written myself, I couldn't help feeling bad. (And obviously I still do because I'm writing this post!) I even got asked once.. and I said - 'um, I might later, after I've ducked out and bought my lunch, and, um, actually, though, I was going to be selfish for a change and look after my kid this year.' And somehow I just never got round to offering to replace anyone.

I did also help Zoe's little mate, who didn't have a parent there - making sure she was sunscreened up, and helped motivate her have a go in a few races. (And seeing she's a very fair little redhead, I thought that was a worthy job. I also helped her tighten her goggles - something I couldn't have done if I was otherwise engaged.) But it still didn't assuage that overwhelming guilt I felt for not 'doing my bit' despite the fact that there are plenty of parents who a) weren't even there, or b) were there, not helping, and couldn't give a stuff.

Schools, and committees. Where 'volunteering' is an expectation. And once you do, it leads to further expectations. And where not volunteering can lead to all consuming guilt.

It's a no win situation for me... And is it just me? Or can others tell me how to gain control of my overworked conscience?


Monday, February 05, 2007


Making things happen

In our household, some things seem to take forever to happen. Things like house maintenance, and gardening, clean ups (and yes okay with me it's the everyday cleaning...)

Some things, I have to say, happen only because my meritorious Other Half makes them happen. I am the dreamer, and the follower. And the Personal Assistant. In some instances I get carried away with an idea (like "Yes, let's do the Big Ride again"), and I push for it to happen. But I rely on him to supply the logistics, the technical know-how, and the motivation. Particularly when it comes to motivating the whole family, because sometimes I have trouble just getting myself going.

Sometimes though (and less often than I would like, actually, because I am lazy that way), things just land in your lap. Those palm trees - that dropped the fruit that lay over the ground that Tracey raked and shovelled and did her back in because of - are 'gooorrrn'. Over the weekend. Already! Gone, gone, gone. And there was me saying that was yet another of our 'get round to it' jobs.

The neighbour's 21 year old son works for his uncle who does tree lopping. While he doesn't get to do much 'up in the trees' work, he has a chainsaw. And so, because there were quite a few other branches and foliage from trees on our side of the fence which had grown too far over onto their side (dropping leaves in their gutters etc..) his Dad thought it was an excellent idea to get him up out of bed on a Saturday morning to earn himself some extra 'pocket money' for half the price it would cost to get the uncle himself to do it.

We thought that sounded ok.. and while we were talking about that.. we suggested while he was at it he could also lop off the offending fruit and dead branches of the palm tree .. and, actually, why not get rid of the damn things entirely? Them and the annoying other branches along our fenceline... all for $170. We're happy, he's happy, his dad is a bit of a slavedriver it turns out, but seemed happy, and we got to chat and get to know each other a bit more. (He's a nice "kid".) And Marc took 3 trailer loads of it all to the tip, which turned out to be a lot cheaper than getting a 'professional' to cart it away.

It's a bit strange - the gap where they used to be. They did block out a bit of the western sun, but they were only going to get higher (and thus even harder to maintain...) So.. it's OKAY. Geez, it hadn't even made The List, and it has already happened!

I wish more things could happen serendipitously like that.

Reality is, of course, that with most things you have to put a bit of effort.

Satisfyingly we did 'make things happen" in other areas of our lives over the weekend. The important area, which is the Big Ride preparation.

It did take Mr Dad to get us going.. with a 5 am rise on Saturday morning to go into town for the 6.30 am community bike ride. (6.30 - 8.00, then you get to sit and have coffee, and something nice for "brunch".) We only rode about 26km (a bit more for Marc and the two on the triplet, they rode in a faster group, which Cait and I haven't been able to keep up with.) But it was time in the saddle, and it made us do it. (And it made us practise getting up.) And, amazingly, after the previous weekend's 130km, no bum amongst us felt saddle-sore on such a 'small' ride. The merits of training. It's not just about the aerobic and muscle fitness.

So Sunday he scheduled another, bigger, training ride, with some hills. 63km total.. including a 3 km long hill winding up through the banana farms, and then some ups and downs for the rest of the way. We learnt last year that we would have been better off if we'd done more training. And now that we know what sort of riding days to train for, Marc is intent on getting us better prepared in what weekends we have left. (He will have another trip to KL between now and the Big Ride.) Just as well we've got him to make us do it.

It wasn't easy. Hills can be hard! (Especially on a tandem.) I was feeling it. To my shame I was even doing a few Sharipova imitations.. though apparently I sounded more .. disconcerting... Not so much "grunt", more "wail" perhaps. I did feel like crying a couple of times.

"You need to get more aerobic training, kiddo" said he. "You're the one that wanted to do the Big Ride again." I held back the tears of frustration, knowing he had a point... and as I continued riding I thought the answers I should have come up with immediately:

"Well, what do you think we're bloody doing right now if it's not training?" and

"Yes, I pushed for us to sign up again, because sometimes it actually is me that makes things happen and I do believe it was you and Cait who were the first to say you wanted to do it again", and

"Last Wednesday I couldn't walk without my back hurting, so I think, under the circumstances I'm doing pretty well riding this", and

"I haven't had swimming squad for 6 weeks over the holidays, which definitely helps my aerobic fitness (I went to my first session back last Friday and had to ditch because of my back..) "...AND

"I had that cough for 6 weeks, so, again, under the circumstances, I think I'm doing OK."

And .. "Yes, thank you for making us do this training because I know we need it AND we're all frigging MAD doing this, what in god's name possesses me to want to do stuff like this?"

[I know the answer to that last question, of course. It's the RETROSPECT. The Explaining Of Which would be the topic of a whole new blog post entirely. ]

Meanwhile, on the 'making things happen' front, I am wondering how much money I can feasibly sink in to my fitness, and maintenance of my dicky back. The alternative, though, is to sit back and vegetate, so it is probably not an option.

Weights with the trainer today. Swimming squad. (The back did twinge still, so I am thinking one more chiro session might be necessary to get me over this latest 'attack'.) I've a solo bike ride with a friend scheduled for Wednesday. More weights and more swimming on Friday. And more bike riding on the weekend.

I'm sure that goes some way towards making things happen. We'll just not go into all the other stuff I should be making happen.

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Friday, February 02, 2007


Ohohohoh... our home is girt by sea

(Somehow transcribing the 'Ohohohoh' doesn't really work, does'll see what I mean in a minute...)

Back on Australia Day I was rabbiting on about changing the flag and becoming a republic and all that. As her Australia Day "tribute", strauss over at The Brave posted this youtube video. I confess I didn't get round to watching it at the time- partly because I figured I'd seen Adam Hills sing it before (on Spicks and Specks)

I finally did catch up with it this morning, and couldn't help but laugh. So here it is for anyone who hasn't seen it either. I suppose it will only make sense to any other Aussies, particularly those who grew up with Jimmy Barnes.

I like it.

There you go. While we're becoming a republic, changing the flag, and changing the date of Australia Day, I reckon we should go all out, and change the melody to our National Anthem as well.

And then you might be able to resurrect some Aussie pride in me as well. (When we get our butts out of Iraq, and Howard gets his nose out of up you-know-where...and... and....)


Thursday, February 01, 2007


"Duh!" and other observations

Last night I had one of those 'duh!' moments over the cause of this back aggravation. (My back is better than it was yesterday, but still not conducive to doing much in the way of energetic movement.. which kind of rules out housework again today. What a shame.)

But, you know.. DUH! - it wasn't starting the mower at all! It was raking up these orange.. berries (I suppose you call them) that are currently dropping from the palm tree that some idiot of a previous owner of this house planted out on the footpath. Raking them up into a pile, then shovelling them into a bucket to go in the green waste bin. (Even though they are orange.) Shovelling! That'll do it to me. Every time. Lucky I don't live where it snows and you have to get out there and shovel your way out to the street. I'd be an invalid. Digging or shovelling are things I usually avoid in the garden for good reason. Necessity dictated doing it, and I'm paying for it.

This is what has dropped on the ground since Tuesday afternoon. Imagine how many were there since... well.. since they started ripening and dropping. Last year we hacked off the big bunches (one on each tree).. and the dead palm fronds (which are inconveniently getting higher and higher each year as the wretched tree grows.) We haven't got round to doing it this year. Really, this is so not the sort of tree we need. We need low to no maintenance trees! For heaven's sakes! One day, we'll cut the damn things down. It's just not something we need on The List.

Speaking of Lists.. well I was thinking about Lists.. because Jeanie over in Paradise had me cracking up with her M.O. for list writing. (Among other things!) I am quite enamoured of her tactic of having 'Write List' as the first item on the list, so that, once you've printed out your list, you can immediately tick one thing off and feel like you're already getting somewhere. I like her style.

I do try to write lists as a way of trying to get myself DOING THE THINGS I SHOULD BE DOING WOMAN!! I am ridiculously erratic with them though.. (which is hardly surprising, given that chaos theory was most likely coined with me in mind) and I have a tendency to lose them. My latest attempt at gaining some control is with this flexible magnetic whiteboard I have put on the fridge (where I am likely to see it.)

It's working, at least, for phone messages that the kids take. (And providing an endless source of entertainment for them as they add stuff like "Buy 3 packets of Mars Bars and one chocolate cake.") And rather than ticking, or crossing out (my usual MO), I am getting some sort of sense of satisfaction using the felt tip on the pen to erase the list item once it is achieved.

Mind you, as soon as I decided to take a photo, I thought of a million and one other things that really should be on it, but I'd need a very big whiteboard for everything that needs to be done round here.

But let's not go on a 'woe is me' expedition right now. Sometimes, actually, all you need in a day to cheer you up is to see someone who makes you feel like you might actually have your shit together. (Or rather, someone to warn you to get your shit together, and keep it together.) Go over to Rockstar Mommy's blog and check out the video. I've just linked to it, because she does an introduction to this "pre-wedding" video better than I could!

Oh YouTube.. what brave new world have you wrought? There's a moral in there. Beware the "friend" with a video camera next time you're about to drop your bundle and behave like a three year old. Otherwise Worldwide Humiliation could be yours.

But, hey.. I'm feeling pretty ok about myself now.

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