Monday, April 30, 2007


Energise me.

I am still not totally convinced about this getting up at Ungodly Hours to go bike riding thing. I think I will probably always mutter away to myself, shaking my head as I stumble to the bathroom, and fumble for my bike clothes. For one thing it's still dark, and now that we are mid autumn, it's actually getting a tad cool. All relative, I know, but cool is cool, ok! A thermal (polypropolene) top under my bike jersey wasn't enough to keep me warm in the house, so hopping on the bike at 5.45am just as it is getting light, and cold morning air (around 11 degrees) plus moving through said air at 20-30 kph bringing in to play something called wind chill factor.. well it didn't seem like the most sane thing to be doing right then. Bit of cursing happening from the back of the bike and I kept telling myself "it's ok, you know, you could go back to bed some time during the day - as a reward for THIS". ...hmmm, how decadent would that be?!)

A few k's down the highway I warmed up enough - one of the advantages of being on the back of a tandem. My fingers were tingly warm, but Marc's were still freezing. (Another term for tandem captain is 'Windbreak'). We didn't take our thermals off the whole time, despite riding up 3km of winding road in the morning sun. (After that there was more downhill through shady bits, and our toes got even colder!) We have a new cluster on that tandem too, with a higher and lower gear (same amount of gears, just spread out), and so we could really belt down the hills (higher wind chill factor?!) and we could wind up the steeper bits with the low gear. The speed we can get up to on the downhill is a hoot, and beating our single bike friend UP the hill today was also quite satisfying, given tandems are usually overtaken by singles going up. (We won't mention the fact that he hasn't been on his bike for about 6 weeks!)

Of course by the time I got home I felt oh so virtuous for having ridden around 40km before the time I normally drag my butt out of bed. This morning that clammy feeling you get from sweating when it's cool stayed with me even through my hot shower; I threw on long tracky pants, and a polar fleece top, got a cup of coffee and sat on the back doorstep worshipping the sun. Certainly marks the transition from summer to winter when you're seeking the sun instead of avoiding it.

The younger two kids were up when we got home at 7.35 - (fairly normal) - and I had to wake Her Highness (also normal). Everyone was packed and ready to go with heaps of time to catch their respective buses - it all felt so .. civilised! So I suppose, other than the 'cold', and the insane wake up time, I therefore have no reason to knock back the suggestion that we do it again on Wednesday morning. Iron uniforms the night before, and it's all quite doable.

So, theoretically, I am feeling energised! And ready to attack a range of domestic chores today. Hey ho.

Or I could sit here and look online for long sleeved cycling jerseys and long leg nix. It's only going to get colder before it gets warm again, and if we're stupid enough to be doing this early morning riding thing we need to not get hypothermia from it!

It looks like we're getting even more serious about this bike riding. Marc took my desire to get a single road bike seriously and spent a lot of time on Saturday and Sunday researching women's road bikes online, and then asking me difficult questions that I didn't know the answer to. I've had to mull over whether I want to ride drops, or to get a flat bar style. A women's frame? we think yes, for optimum position and comfort. And a whole heap of other bike-techo stuff, like carbon forks, carbon seat posts, and the 'level' of gear brand - ranging from base, through ok, good, to heaps good, but ridiculously expensive. Womens' road bikes are harder to come by second hand, so we are looking new for me, while he has decided on a mens road bike on ebay. It will be a pick up in Brisbane, so he's decided we find a bike shop in Brisbane to buy my bike. (He's found one online as well where they will meet you on Sundays by appointment - a Sunday being the only day we would have to drive to Brissy and back - and all their testimonials say they spend a lot of time helping you set up the bike to the right 'fit'.) I am a bit freaked by the price; what if I don't like it, or I am not good at it?

I suppose, like anything, you usually don't realise what you can do till you try.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007


Do your Mum and Dad eat Vita Wheats?

There's this TV ad over here where the Mum is carrying on like a kid with boundless energy; in one of the older ads she is walking, balancing and jiggling along a brick wall, while her kid walks alongside holding her hand. In a current one Mum is skipping, all giggly and energetic (a bit manic actually) while her kid turns the rope at one end with a kind of bored look on her face. In both ads a friend asks "Does your Mum eat Vita Wheats?" ... and the kid rolls her eyes and nods. Kind of like 'yep, my Mum's a loony'.

[I don't actually tend to buy Vita Wheats these days, but Aussie kids of my vintage might remember the butter and vegemite worms that could only be made with Vita Wheats!]

I looked for a reference to it online, but I can't find it. So you'll have to just go with me on this convoluted analogy.

The ad kept flitting through my head today, while Marc and I racked off to go bike riding, leaving the sloths kids at home for a few hours. This version had Mum and Dad with the boundless energy, and the kids at home - one at the computer, one choreographing dance routines in the playroom, and the other making jewellery with beads. But all rolling their eyes about their hyperactive parents. I could almost imagine friends of theirs asking as we rolled back up, two and a half hours later, spattered with mud, "Do your mum and dad eat vita wheats?" and the kids rolling their eyes and nodding. "Yup".

It took a bit (for me anyway) to push away the guilt of leaving them home alone for a few hours on a Sunday, but given the fact that they were in sloth mode and would have stayed so whether we were there or not (unless we dragged them out, moaning and grumbling) so we headed off, just the two of us, on our mountain bikes again, into the state forest to the west of here. I suppose while some couples choose to go out for dinner for a few hours, this is the sort of thing we do. [Cue some more eye-rolling] And at least there's not that darkness factor you worry about when you get to the point where your eldest kid is old enough to be the babysitter...

This time we planned a longer route which involved a bit more UP than last time. Hmmm, UP. I'm wondering if I should go and get myself a lung capacity test, because when I got to the top of a few of the UPs, I was gasping for breath - one time I even panicked because it took a while to regain my breath. Which of course made it worse. (I wondered if that was how asthmatics feel.) It subsided relatively quickly, so I'm guessing it's just an aerobic fitness thing. Also, using the lowest, lowest gear would help. (Marc suggested as I gasped at the top of a hill we've now dubbed 'Gasping Hill' that I should have used the lowest gear.. "I am in the lowest gear!" I protested. But hmm, I wasn't.. one more to go. Makes all the difference that!)

On some of the hills there was loose gravel, so traction was just a teeny bit of an issue, contributing to the panic a bit! (If I ever wondered where Zoe gets her cautiousness from, I should wonder no longer! - though I blame the fact that when I was young I never screamed around on a bike in the dirt like boys tend to do.) But, you know.. I did it. We had one section that was so steep, we had to push the bikes up. Screaming calf muscles, oy. But when you get to the bigger forest road that is graded and smooth, and mostly downhill, then yeee ha! A bit of a challenge for the wuss in me negotiating some ruts as we went downhill. And a few puddles to ride through, after yesterday's rain.

Hey, it was fun! And it was nice to get out in the bush a bit. Even if our peace was shattered twice. Gotta love the sound of trailbikes in the afternoon. And mmmm, that wonderful aroma of exhaust fumes!

38km round trip, first 4 km and last 9 or so on tar. It got the blood flowing and the endorphins jumping around, and I feel a whole lot better mentally than I did the rest of the weekend. (And then I got to get pizza for dinner!)

And we are going to meet up with a friend tomorrow morning at 6.00. (Us on our road tandem and him on his single bike). A ride down the highway, and up a winding hill through the bananas, and back in time to get the kids off to school.

I swear, I don't actually eat Vita Wheats. Maybe I should! Might get me out the other days when I really need it.

[I'm sure the ad is for Vita Wheats, and not Vita Brits.. I'll look a complete goose if I've got it wrong won't I!]

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Saturday, April 28, 2007


Be careful what you wish for!

So it rained as predicted; at 5 am it was raining heavily enough that we had the sense to stay in bed and not take Option B of driving in to town and riding the community ride with our raingear on. We had decided that rain + pre-dawn light + highway was one too many risk factors. (Option B of a mere 30 km ride would have been ok if it was just drizzling.. but the rain intensity crossed the line somewhere in there.)

Amidst mad dreams that involved assuming netball was off, and then being told it was on, the phone rang at 8am. It was one of the others from the netball committee - they'd already made the call to have no netball today. Yee ha! I got up, put the wet weather cancellation notice on the website and then went back to bed!

Of course since then the weather has lightened a little with about an hour or so of no rain and only some light drizzle. You wonder then of course whether we could have tried to run it, could have got the games in. Meh! Not my problem. Wet courts with puddles.. who wants to volunteer to sweep them off?.. and then worry about kids slipping etc. And trying to decide during the middle of games if the safety factor has been breached. No, not me.

So, I have a free Saturday! But then's there's the catch. What do I do?

** Clean (you know how much I love that. Not.)

** Iron (love that even more. Not.)

** wash clothes - but I can't hang them out on the line, which is the only redeeming feature of doing the laundry! - I could almost say I enjoy hanging the washing out on a sunny day. (If I wash today I'll have to process them through our cabinet dryer, which is ok, but time consuming..and electricity consuming too - so do I wait and hope tomorrow is fine?)

** Do bloggy or websitey stuff - plenty I could do - between the netball site, the Bike BUG site and blog - our family tandem blog - write up our Big Ride journal - and I could do a whole heap of stuff on our family website to create a resource on all our tandems and that...

But my wrist is a bit 'iffy' - my 'too much time on the computer barometer', Marc has called it. Hmmm. Yes.. yesterday I spent most of the day here.. I did do netball minutes, but I did a lot of surfing and sighing and blogreading and sighing.

** research what new digital camera to buy (again, too much mouse-wrist time..)

** hassle Marc about him and me buying ourselves single road bikes, because I've just been invited to ride with a group of women riding road bikes on Wednesday mornings, and I would just so love that!! (Not a chance of keeping up on my single mountain bike though.)

We are also having to hassle the eldest for going into super-sloth mode, and say "ENOUGH TV! NO MORE TV! Get off the lounge!! Have some breakfast!!" (at which point she will try to head, pyjama-clad, to the computer, and sit there for hours playing with graphics and the like. She will possibly have her game on in town this afternoon, but it's terribly frustrating to see her go so overboard with the slothfulness.

I wished so fervently for no netball today because, early in the season as it is, I am a bit over having to hang at the netball courts for hours, manning the canteen and clubhouse. Talk about getting sucked in. A few years ago I turned up to a committee meeting because I felt I should contribute something given my daughter had just been selected in a rep team. And I timidly put my hand up and suggested I could possibly contribute something towards publicity and information dissemination within the club. (It was a bit lacking.) Who knew that I'd be stuck in the clubhouse for hours because I was the only one on the committee who didn't coach or umpire? (Today I'd been asked to stay till 4.15!)

So I had better seize this day of No Netball, and do something super-constructive to make myself feel OK.

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Friday, April 27, 2007


Anyone for tennis...?

Not me it seems.

I am not sure what is wrong with me. I signed up to play my "Ladies Midweek" tennis comp again this year. It starts next Thursday, and I haven't hit a tennis ball since the last game last year - probably around August or September.

I could have gone to this social tennis session at the local tennis club this morning, but, no... I've put it off and off (again)till it is too late to turn up.

I am not that enthusiastic about playing this year, even though you'd think I would/should be because tennis is "MY" sport - the only sport I played during my childhood. Now, because I don't play much I know I am not playing as well as I could. Which is a bit frustrating. And our team played pretty crap last year, which doesn't really matter, but the friend that puts the team together just pretty much gets anyone to play. Last year our sixth player wasn't that good - like, you felt like applauding when she got the ball back over the net kind of 'not that good'. And while she is not playing this year, the new player we apparently have (haven't met her yet) is also apparently 'not that good'.

I don't really care that much about competition, but I am playing comp so that I will, supposedly, get a decent hit - with a purpose. If hit and giggle was going to suffice, there would be no need to commit to comp every Thursday. There is a point to competition because it does, theoretically, bring out the best in you, which is thus, more instrinsically rewarding.

So, the way it is though, a part of me thinks there is no point to worrying about how well I am hitting the ball at the moment. Just turn up and go through the motions, and .. whatever....

Tennis comp day can be a longish day - start at 10.00...(sometimes a half hour drive to get to the Away courts). The team plays 8 sets in total - with each individual playing 4 sets. The home team provides lunch - which I find a bit of a pain in the neck, really. Having to provide some platter of food - which seems to be some sort of competition in itself. Or having to eat what others provide which may not be your choice of sandwich fillings, thanks...

Sometimes we play 2 courts at once, so the day is over with by lunchtime. Other places only have one court available, so you could theoretically be there till after 3.00 if the sets are close. With a lot of waiting in between, and chit chatting about inane stuff that you don't really care about. (I think I'd rather waste my time reading blogs! At least I get to choose who I "listen" to!)
The computer is running very sluggishly this morning... seems to be a combination of slow net connection speed (feels like bad dialup, not 'broadband') but also programs working very slowly. Rather reflective of "me" today, and a teary start to the morning over other 'stuff' didn't help. A reboot may help the computer, but I'm not at all sure what kind of reboot will help me. (Probably a hit of tennis would have helped. But that is too sensible a notion for someone wallowing around in I don't know what.)

I am back at my swimming squad this afternoon, which I will enjoy (once it is over!!). The weather is cloudy and dull, and threatening rain, which I guess can be blamed for making one a bit moody. Rain is predicted for tomorrow, so there really is a 'cloud' over our bike riding in the morning - something I was looking forward to, despite the fact that I will grumble about the a 5am wake up. The only consolation is if it rains and stops our bike riding, netball will be off as well, and I can't begin to tell you how much relief that will give me.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007


Grumpy Old Woman at Home.

Just lately (and a lot of the time if I am honest with myself), I'd fit in rather well with the Grumpy Old Women of that British TV series. (Those of you who know me well would know how much I identify with the Grumpy Old Women at Christmas!)

It must be the age... some of them are only in their 40s - so I qualify. It's just that there are a few things around here that are driving me nuts. Yesterday, despite it being a public holiday, I felt myself sliding insidiously into Grump Mode. Partly the weather.. which came over all cloudy, rainy and, yes, cool. Nothing like the cool that other parts of the world get, but it's change of season 'cool' for me. I am sure that doesn't help one's mood.

So today? I am Officially Grumpy. And it's basically the little things that are setting me off!

** The Middle daughter is currently in a phase of doing handstands (as opposed to the headstands pictured right... I just haven't managed to catch this latest.. habit.. on camera.) So she is constantly doing handstands. In the loungeroom. It is not a big loungeroom area - a 2m x 3m rug, basically. There is no doubt she is pretty good at them (I confess I could never do handstands), but the legs flail around a bit. Sometimes a lot. And cause a bit of a breeze... and a flickering shadow because of the wall lights on the far wall, and ffs, it's just so bloody annoying!! It doesn't matter how often I tell her to stop, she is driven to it. (She has been like this before... years ago it was cartwheels - so she started acrobatic lessons that a dance teacher was running, so the cartwheels in the house eased off. But then she learnt headstands, so it was headstands everywhere... as pictured...) This latest habit is doing MY head in though! It is only a matter of time before she hurts herself or someone else. Or smashes into the TV. Last night she abused Zoe for putting the recliner on the lounge out while SHE was doing handstands. (Guess who copped an earful?!!)

** While I'm on middle daughter she's also taken to whistling. Tunelessly. Arrrghhh.. it drives me insane. I am such a horrible mother I just growl at her to stop it!! I can cope with the flute and recorder practice. But the whistling!! No!!

** Eldest daughter can't whistle, but learnt how to make a hooting noise by blowing through her hands. The other two soon caught on, so when all three start... I go demented. I also got a bit stroppy when eldest was doing it on the back of the tandem!!

** And why is it none of the girls can turn the tap in the bathroom off properly? Anytime that I go to the loo on the middle floor after they have gone to school, guaranteed, I'll sit on the loo (usually I've bolted up there for a visit of the longer type duration!!) and then I hear it *plink, plink, plink* And I have to endure it till I've finished what I went in there for. Yep.. it drives me nuts.

** While I'm in the bathroom, we have a bit of a flushing issue with our loos at the moment... (we do need to replace the cisterns, but it's all on hold now till we extend - we once went to look for replacement cisterns and there was some ridiculous issue and complication and expense involved...) So the deal for now is, when you flush you have to hold the button down till the flush has finished, otherwise the cistern cock won't reseal or something, and the cistern just continues to leak water into the bowl. So, yes, it's a bit of a pain, but it's a doable workaround, and takes, what, an extra 5 seconds? The eldest in particular is so chronically lazy, that she refuses to do it properly, and will just leave the toilet unflushed. The number of times I go up to the bathroom in the morning, and find it like that... full of paper and *ahem*... GRRRRR! And she is unrepentant. It's all OUR fault because we haven't provided her with a 'properly working' toilet, and far be it for her to have to spend 5 extra seconds of her precious time!! (I'll add in here that toilet bowls in Australia are different to the north-american style - To quote from a Wikipedia article about a Simpsons episode: "Whereas toilets in America flush with the bowl being first emptied of its wastes and then refilled with fresh water, Australian toilets are flushed by having fresh water rush into the bowl from all around the inside rim, and displace the waste by washing it over the S-bend and down the drain." Just in case you're trying to imagine it from your own loo experience.)

** What else do they do? Or not do, more to the point. They can never hang their towels up. Can't put clothes away.. At the moment there is a pile of stuff - clothes, books, etc - in the middle of the room that Alison and Zoe share. Zoe's doing I gather. "What is this for? I asked this morning. "A bonfire?"

** They have also taken to blaming me and my laundry system for when they can't find items of clothing. Despite the fact that all the dry laundry goes straight up to my room. (Only other place it could be is in the cabinet dryer in the laundry if it's been raining.) It will then either be still in the basket, unsorted, (or, ok, maybe in a pile on the floor, unsorted.) If sorted it will be either in the ironing pile or in 'their' basket, ready for being taken down to their room and put away. Not hard to guess that in this house those baskets get pretty full (then they rummage through them...and grrrrr!) But somehow, if they can't find things it's MY fault. Last week when they had friends around and I succumbed to taking them to the beach, my younger two couldn't find their rash shirts. Mum's fault of course. I found Zoe's stuffed in a bag she'd taken shopping? (Hmmm... must have been one of those clean up jobs where you just shove things out of sight...) And after Alison wore a falling apart old one, the next day I remembered that she'd actually left hers at her friend's place the weekend before. So whose fault is it? Hmmmm.

This morning, with cooler weather, she couldn't find her school jacket. 'Do you know where it is Mum?'. Nup. And not interested in looking for it either. She found it eventually (after missing the bus). "Someone stuffed it up the back of the cupboard." Indeed? Someone? Mr Nobody I suppose.

** And to finish up - for now - there is one question I get asked that is guaranteed to make me really really cranky. "What's for dinner?" My usual response is to snarl back "What you're given." I mean, why ask? Is it going to affect whether you grace us with your presence at the dinner table? Are you going to go out instead if it doesn't meet with your approval? Unless you are asking because you want to HELP prepare it, then JUST DON'T ASK!!

So is anyone else a Grumpy Old Woman, even despite your age? Like the women in the series, I am tempted to just accept it, and even revel in it. (So stay tuned for more grumping!) I'm working on the theory that it helps to get things off your chest, no matter how trivial!!

So I'm now off to do the supermarket shop. I have just realised it's a Thursday which is likely to be pension day (every fortnight I think) - so it will be more crowded than usual with pensioners of all ages getting in my road, so given my existing grumpiness, I will probably get even grumpier. Alas, I need to stock up on a few things, so today it is.

And, so help me, if anyone asks me tonight what's for dinner, they'd better watch out!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Lest We Forget

"A common emotion on Anzac Day is: never again. And yet we keep marching off to war. " ....

"I fear we'll never run out of diggers to march on Anzac Day."

Ross Gittins - "Why 'never again' will never work" - SMH - 25/4/07



Bearing in mind the dangers..

and the warnings by Shish and Magic... yesterday I decided to give my mouse wrist a rest, and do some cleaning! Yo! Go me! I cleaned! I CLEANED! Some windows! We can see out our bedroom window now! I feel like staying up in our room just admiring the view I can now see through the window. (Getting the picture of how bad things get round here?) Salt spray compounds the problems of a reticent window cleaner, I can tell you. There were patterns etched into it by 'creative' fingers.. which were a daily poke in the ribs about how bad it was.

I am still battling the 'proverbialing' into the wind factor with it all. The house has got SO BAD that I find it hard to fight the overwhelming sense of desperation I feel with it all. Cleaning one bit just highlights another bit well overdue for a clean, and I end up in this Catch 22-like spiral of what to do first. Which I have moaned about ad nauseum I know, sorry. Add the dilapidated state of the house, which means that things overall look a bit shabby anyway, and it's all a bit depressing really.

I also get more depressed because some of the women I end up hanging with (at netball, and I'll be playing tennis with them this term) carry on about their cleaning, to the point that I just feel totally hopeless. They are so driven!! In the mornings, while I'm browsing blogs over a coffee, they are whipping in, cleaning the shower and the loo, sweeping the kitchen floor, doing all the ironing... and that's all before morning tea!

I tell myself that they aren't stimulating their minds as I am, but it's hard to keep that idea in focus! When someone suggested we have a netball committee meeting at my place next Monday evening so that I wouldn't worry about babysitting issues, I nearly died. Despite the fact that visitor induced cleaning is often the only way things get done around here, I couldn't face the thought of it. I'd rather rationalise that the younger two will be ok for 10 minutes before the almost 14 yr old gets dropped home from training. (They will be ok - I don't need the pressure of visitors right now.)

So, anyway.. today being a public holiday, I am trying to use it to get on top of things. And to accept that to haul it all back in will be a long process. It simply won't be solved in a week or two. Like my weight loss goals, it'll probably take a year.

For my similarly domestically challenged mates out 'there', I'm sharing my little achievements here. God, it must make for boring blog reading, but triviality is what you get here at CrazyTrace.

So apart from windows, yesterday I put a spare tube on the vacuum cleaner to make it longer, and de-cobwebbed some of the walls and rafters up in our room. Long overdue.

This morning I've given Marc a haircut (clipper job).. which then inspired vacuuming the kitchen floor. A nothing job except that it required hauling the vacuum cleaner down HERE, despite there being more vacuuming to do in our room. I'll chip away at it today, remove some of the worst cobwebs and dust bunnies. And last night's cooking stuff that didn't fit in the dishwasher are washed! And the dishwasher is unpacked! (This is progress, folks!)

My wrist is ok. Moderation is probably the key!

*sighs* - It's just another Manic Mum day...

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Methinks my wrist is trying to tell me something...

Suddenly last night my wrist - my mouse wrist - got sore. Think it could be some sort of over-use problem? Hmmm. Me too.

I got Marc to strap it for me for the rest of the evening... - you know, so I could finish loading the dishwasher and all that stuff - and then after 8 hours of not using it -(only because of it happening to be sleeptime, otherwise I would have just kept coming back to the computer and using it)! - it was .. ok.. this morning. OK enough to do my weights class anyway (Last night I was a just a bit concerned it might affect my ability to push up, or pull down.. and let me tell you, my arms don't need any more challenges with this weight lifting malarky, being one of the weakest parts of me. Second only to my jelly belly abs)

However, an hour on the 'puter since I got home (my goodness, where does the time go?!) and I am feeling it again. Perhaps it is a message to shift my butt and go and do at least one of the domestic chores I keep bitching about and putting off.

It bothers me as I harbour grandiose ideas of getting paid work to do from home - with my average computer and web skills - but if I'm going to get periodic bouts of RSI type stuff in my mousey wrist, then it's not a good sign. Is it?

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Monday, April 23, 2007


That's a wrap.

School holidays. Two weeks of them. Done and dusted. It's a bit scary how fast the year is going. I mean, Term 2 already?!! Before we know it it'll be the end of June, half way through the year, and into another 2 weeks of holidays. It's just not right!

Today was a pupil free day "staff development day". This varies from school to school. My kids are back tomorrow, then Wednesday is a public holiday for Anzac Day, and then, huzzah!, they are back at school for Thursday and Friday. At least that means we get to ease back into the madness a little more slowly, with no netball stuff on Wednesday - and a day 'off' for Marc. Which I like, of course.

I had had grand plans to make the most of Sunday and today - as if to make up for my lack of domestic achievements during the past two weeks. So much for all the grandiose plans to get the kids involved in a mega-cleanup while they had holidays (and we weren't gallavanting around the countryside on some holiday adventure or other.)

Instead Caitlin all but reinvented the term 'sloth' :

How? You sleep in as long as possible - if you get past midday, you're a legend. You drag yourself up, then plonk in front of the TV or computer the rest of the day. If you're really good you can stay in your PJs till dinner time. It's called pushing the envelope far enough that your mother just couldn't be bothered harassing you about it. Much. ie. if you keep ignoring her, she gives up in the end, because there are things worth arguing about, and things that aren't worth arguing about. Even if she is kind of bothered by it.

Alison seemed to work all holidays on my mother-guilt gene, expressing daily disappointment that every day she wasn't going somewhere or hanging with a friend. I was working on the concept of self-determination (ie. organise your own things), and the fact that kids shouldn't need to be taken out and entertained constantly. She didn't have a bad holiday. Really.

Zoe was obviously working on her magic skills - I saw her practising card tricks a few times. And the rest - she was working on invisible' - by disappearing upstairs for hours at a time so that I would easily forget she was around. She has always had the amazing ability to entertain herself with toys. She has a hideyhole under the upstairs stairs (an open type of stairway), and she can sit there playing with stuff for hours. When she wasn't doing that she'd be reading a book. And, thusly, tugging at that mother-guilt gene because she wasn't outside being active.

And me? I've practised my procrastination tendencies to perfection. School holidays where you stay at home are the perfect training ground. If there was a Procrastination Olympics, I'd be in it.

Take yesterday - Sunday - for example. Oh how I was looking forward to that day. Nowhere we had to be. A glorious sleep in after our efforts on Saturday.

Marc was a man on a mission. He had a lot of bike tyres to change - chunky ones he'd put on the tandem and triplet for the last day of the Big Ride (because it involved a bit of dirt), and so, because we are likely to do more bitumen riding, he wanted to put the smoother tyres back on. He then swapped my really chunky tyres on my mountain bike for a set of the relatively less chunky ones from the tandems. (Everything is relative!) He said it was pretty 'tiring' - a pun that would work better in print if we spelt tyres the north american way.

But! At least that was a job that would stay done. (He didn't get to the car tyre changing jobs he has as well - I guess he has another tiring weekend ahead.) I tend to get a bit envious of many of the tasks he sets himself to do, because they will stay done longer than, for instance, cleaning. Or ironing.

So I fiffed and faffed most of the day, finding reasons to talk a lot to him about our bike riding/holiday plans for the rest of the year (and next year), thinking of related stuff to look up online, and only managing to do a bit of a clean up of the 'clean' laundry that had been adorning our room. Like- putting sheets and towels away in the linen press. What a novel concept, hey. Only problem is, everytime I scrunched more sheets into the linen press I would groan to myself about how badly it needs a clean out.. but a clean out of the linen press? I couldn't face it. It seems like too big a task to tackle 'right now' (and the problem is I always use that excuse.) Besides, it would involve decisions. Decisions on what to throw out (and where to 'throw' it to). I threw it in the Too Hard Basket. Again.

So a big BZZZT to the 'spring cleaning' resolution. And, the exercise? Well, the moral to the story there is to Seize the Day Harvie.. Tracey. Or rather.. Seize the Morning when the Weather is Fine, Tracey. Because if you leave it till the afternoon to do your exercise bit for the day, and then you get a storm roll in at around 3.30, then, BZZZT, you've missed your self-promised endorphin hit and daily exercise dosage for the day. (And then today you compound that by stuffing around so much that before you know it it's nearly 4pm and you have to drive kids to town for netball, and call into the shops for something for dinner, then, strangely enough - given the shorter and shorter daylight hours thing that happens in Autumn - you run out of light. (So, bugger it, have a glass of wine, with crackers and dip instead...)

Just as well, then, that it's back to business tomorrow. No slothing, guilt-inducing kids hanging around. And, theoretically, plenty of hours in my day to exercise AND clean. Bring it on.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007


Singing the praises of airbags...

(Image stolen from who probably stole it from somewhere else!)

Ok, so not quite that kind of airbag - I just liked the cartoon when I went searching for pics of airbags.

Mum had a car accident yesterday. And, thanks to the airbag, I think, she came out of it relatively unscathed, despite being run into head on, and the car being a write-off. Thankfully it was also a relatively low-speed impact, just around the bend from home. It's a diabolical street - a crescent, in which the residents park on the inside and outside kerb, leaving usually only a car width to drive through.

The residents and regular visitors know the drill. When you 'meet' an oncoming car, the one who can find a space to pull over will do so, letting the other car pass first. This time there were cars parked all along the kerb to Mum's left (we drive on the left here!), but for once, there were none on the other side. Mum slowed, but expected the oncoming car to move over.

The car didn't, it kept sailing on, and *smash*, - a complete head on - not even a misjudged clipping of the corner of the car.

Mum said she then saw all white - and wondered for a split second "Am I dead?". An instant later she realised it was the airbag. Thank goodness for the airbag. Her only injury is a gash to her right arm, which did cut into a vein, most likely from some broken plastic (from the airbag housing?) Some stitches for that - bruising, and a rash, apparently, from the powder the airbag is stored in, and orders to get checked out by her GP during the week.

Both my sister's and my first reaction was to worry about how much bleeding might have happened because Mum has been on Prednisone for a few years now - which causes the skin to be really thin, so she would just bump herself and cause a tear. Thankfully she is now on such a low dose that it wasn't a problem.

So, Mum got a ride in an ambulance despite insisting that she was ok. Dad was called off the golf course, and I wonder if putting up with his jokey blokey carry-on with the nurses wasn't harder to deal with than the actual accident. The nurse reckoned Mum deserved a medal for putting up with that for 45 years.

The young girl - a P-Plater (provisional licence) - that ran into her had chest pains (no airbag).. I don't know the extent of her injuries. Her father (they lived not far from Mum and Dad) was apparently insisting that the sun was in her eyes, but she was heading east, and it was 2.00 in the afternoon. Hmmm. The policeman didn't talk to Mum yesterday but will see her on Monday afternoon. Perhaps he could already see from the positions of the cars exactly what happened.

You always dread getting a call about someone close to you being in a car accident. Thankfully this one had a happy ending. Mum will be sore for a couple of days, but most likely back on the golf course in a week. Dad is more concerned with the decisions involved in buying a replacement car. Their two daughters' greatest concern, now that we know Mum is ok, is wondering if Dad will actually manage something as domestically challenging as getting dinner for Mum for a change, and if he managed to make the bed up ok (seeing Mum had stripped it yesterday morning.) Seeing Dad's culinary expertise runs to - oh - going up and picking up a pizza - we won't be expecting anything special in that department. It does make you wonder how he would cope if heaven forbid anything had happened to mum, but even moreso, if he would be capable of looking after her for any extended period if her injuries had been worse.


Saturday, April 21, 2007


Earned the right to blog today.

82.7 km this morning (already), thank you very much. On the bike (the tandem) that is. We left home at 5.30am. It's not really light at that time now. Marc has invested in a super duper bike headlight, and a flashing red light that you'd have to be blind to miss, but it was still a bit disconcerting riding down the highway.. I don't know where all the traffic was coming from this morning compared to three weeks ago. (Perhaps people returning from school holidays, but being on the road at dawn is pretty keen. Says me, who is on the road at that time on a bloody bike!)

The community ride was more enjoyable than usual - we rode in a group that broke away and went a bit faster, further, and a varied route. The change of scenery was good, and riding faster was good too.

With, by the end of that, about 60km under our belts before 8am, I was feeling a bit peckish! After the ride we sit and have coffee and a bite to eat at a cafe in the city centre square, and this morning I wolfed down my half of the BLAT (bacon/lettuce/avocado/tomato), then paid for it all the way home, with a gut ache. Ech. That didn't stop Marc aiming to crack the 30kph average speed mark by the time we got home. (I wondered why we were really pushing it, even once we turned off the highway! - but I wasn't game to complain.) We did crack it, but I staggered off the bike once we arrived home, and then collapsed on the front lawn for about 20 minutes. Next time, hopefully without pain, we should do it with ease. Nothing like a setting yourself a challenge to make you work hard. And nothing like riding on the back of a tandem to make you put in, when on your own bike you might just slacken off because "ohmigod, my gut hurts"!

We had a few compliments on our tandem riding today, which is nice, as the hyper-sensitive part of me (yes really!) usually feels like other cyclists don't think much of them, basically because they have had no experience of them. (Like they think the one on the back - me in this case - is just luggage, and I always get the "vibe" from women 'roadies' in particular that riding stoker on a tandem is second rate. And - like - why would you relinquish control - to a male! - and not having control of the steering, braking etc.) Someone today, though, told us we looked really professional! LOL. Well, it is easy to look good on a tandem, as you have no choice but to pedal in synch, but, hell, I'll take any praise and bask in it. We blow the single bikes away on the flats and downhills. Yee ha. Yes, perhaps I am a speed junkie. Certainly the speed factor is what attracted Marc to tandems in the first place. And, given that tandems are not as abundant in Australia as they appear to be in the US, for example (where they have tandem rallies of several hundred tandems at once!), then it is a process of educating our bike riding community. And I can take every chance I can to explain the team process involved in tandeming.

I wish we had a photo of us riding it - but so far I guess we've not ridden it where other people have cameras. (And we're going so fast, we'd just be a blur... ha!)

Yesterday afternoon I was true to my re-resolution, and bolted out for a half hour/40min walk up the beach and back as soon as I'd 'got rid of' the kids' friends who came to play for the day. How lucky am I to live where I do - where going for a walk is such a delight to the senses. 150 metres from my front door and I am on the sand and striding up the beach. It is a flattish beach, so at half to low tide, the sand is hard enough to walk on easily, and you can walk half an hour (to the north) without getting to the next headland.

Last night there was an awesome cloud formation which I realised was a storm cell. The top of the cloud was illuminated in a reddish/pinkish glow from the light of the setting sun, and with lightning flashes within, I felt privileged to be witnessing one of nature's light shows. Oh to have had a camera with me, although I know it wouldn't have captured it fully - certainly not the lightning.

On the way back, just as it was getting dark, I even found something in me to break into a jog. I am cautious about attempting to run, as last year when I was determinedly thumping my way around a 2.5 km cross country course I gave myself a lot of hip 'issues'. So I tried 10 jogging steps, 10 walking, 20 jogging, 20 walking.. and increased it by 10 each time till I got up to 70 jogging steps. It felt good. So I will see how I go. It did occur to me last night that if I avoided throwing my back/hips out by attempting to run, the money I'd save per month on chiropractic sessions would help fund my private trainer sessions, which are probably better for me in the long run.

I know, I must sound obsessed with the exercise thing at the moment. Plenty of woman out there way more hard core than me though. I am just determined, this time, to keep doing it enough to reap the benefits, and I am chuffed with myself that this year (after the Big Ride) we are not losing our bike riding fitness, but continuing to push the envelope. The weight loss is only part of it. The zingy-zing-zing endorphins you have jumping around the rest of the day are a more immediate reward - just as long as you don't scoff your BLATs.

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Friday, April 20, 2007


Vive la RĂ©solution

Three and a half months on. Time to revisit/revise the Resolution that I made. No point getting to Jan 3 next year and saying 'oh bugger'. Or to Jan 15 - the full year on from another post I made about goals and objectives and finding that I didn't stick to any of them.

So how have I done?

Just to remind myself:

Tracey's Goal for 2007:
To lose 10kg and get fit for the Big Ride (a 9-day, 500km bike ride) in March.

Lose 1 kg per month.

Objectives (or how I am going to make that work; wishful thinking is not allowed):

Exercise: Every day. Half hour walk each morning. Bike ride every second day. Make appointment with trainer, and invest approx $100 in 3 or 4 private sessions before hopefully joining a group class.

Eating: More fruit. More vegetables. More multigrain. More 'low GI' choices. Less fat. Less sugar. Less alcohol.

What have I actually achieved out of that?

I didn't stick to my walking everyday.

But I signed up to the personal trainer. I've spent twice as much as I initially intended, but it is working! And it feels good! Money well spent, in terms of self esteem etc.

I did get fit for the Big Ride. And we are still riding our bikes - something we didn't do last year!

On April 4 I was on track with the weight loss, and got the lost centimetres thrown in for free!

A bit more low GI/multigrain/fruit has been consumed, but I'm not doing too well on the alcohol front. I have reduced my caffeine intake - mostly I don't have a coffee after dinner anymore (occasionally I'll have a 'half-caff').. and I am sleeping better for it. It also shows I can make changes, so I shall have to direct some of that willpower to the alcohol issue.

In the last couple of weeks, things like it being school holidays, relationship issues, Easter chocolate, and unkind monthly "women's problems", have been throwing up challenges that have thrown me off track a bit, and I feel like I've taken back at least a kilo, and quite possibly some of those centimetres. If I am not careful, I'll lose what I have gained (Well actually, gain what I have lost - you know what I mean!) With things going back to 'normal' next week - well, in the everyday routine department anyway (ie. thank god the kids are back at school!) - I thought it was time to regroup, get back on track, and maybe revise the sub-goals.

The weight loss resolution still stands. A kilo a month.

Exercise? - I'll revise that to doing some form of exercise everyday. Cycle, walk, swim, trainer... those are my options. But I must attempt to do a minimum of half an hour of something.

Eating? - Keep cutting the caffeine. Try to cut the alcohol, kiddo. You regret it every night, so why do you use it as a crutch? Back to the low GI stuff - which pretty much incorporates everything you should be doing. Basically try to make good decisions. Got rid of the last Easter egg today! so no more chocolate temptations. (Damn the kids for making another cake! )

I am still kind of drawn to the idea of lots of exercise so that I can cheat a bit on the intake department.

In the meantime I have a few other goals to achieve in other areas, but I probably should stick to my resolution to have just One Resolution! I will chip away at other areas, though.

Some ideas:
* go see a bloody counsellor and sort yourself out.
* dejunk or clean one area or one 'thing' in the house each day. Doesn't matter how small.
* address a couple of bigger 'projects' that I keep putting off. Like hemming curtains. OK, I'm giving myself one month to do the curtains.
* start back on the extension plans. It will give me a project to work on.
* less "talk" more action. Says it all really.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007


Collector.. or hoarder? It's a fine line.

While I don't think I'm quite a pathological hoarder (yet).. I don't think that the Stuff! that I/we seem to accumulate could ever be defined as "collecting". Real collectors seem to have some sort of rationale for what it is that they accumulate - whether it be kitsch with a theme, or items with an accepted value, like antiques, or sporting memorabilia. An unlikely TV show that I have actually enjoyed - Collectors - has showcased some amazing collections by people all around Australia, including some quite bizarre themes. One guy collected 'red' things! Another collected tinned tomatoes. (They had to be whole tomatoes!) Check this link for other more bizarre collections shown in the series!

I've often wondered how many of something you have to accumulate before you can call it a collection. The girls, after seeing this show, reckon we collect tandems - but I don't think four of them quite qualifies. Nor does our total accumulation of bikes - even if our shed looks a bit like a bike shop.

I do seem to accumulate things though.. Am I a clutterer or a hoarder?... Certainly I have a tendency to save things 'in case' they come in useful one day. Combine that with an indefinable, vague greenie streak which has me trying to Reuse first then Recycle. And a sentimental streak that holds on to things for the potential memories...whether they be soft toys (ie. finding it hard to dispose of any of the soft toys the three children seem to have amassed), or mugs I had when I first moved out of home.

One of my current 'collections' is Moccona coffee jars. The jars are designed to be reused, and because of their glass lid, they seem too valuable, too 'nice', to just throw in the recycling. But there is a limit to how many 'nice' glass jars one household can actually use! See my problem? And that's not all - I have a plastic box full of them in the cupboard under the sink. I added to my problem with them recently by starting to buy the bigger jars.. because, being bigger, they'd be more useful! At the moment this collection is taking up valuable kitchen bench space while I 'decide' what to do with them.

I have a similar 'problem' with plastic containers. I buy them because they look like they'd be cool to use. I save them to reuse. Sometime. My plastics cupboard is diabolical - despite my efforts to store lids separately so they are findable. Plus how many of these containers can you save and use:

(Any guesses on how many of these 'tinned' fruit containers I have in the back of the plastics cupboard? - *cough*.. um.. probably at least a dozen...)

I have all manner of other things that I 'save' in case.... The cupboard 'under the stairs' is full of stuff that the kids might use one day for craft projects, school projects, etc. Paper, cardboard.. ribbons, corks... Somehow I don't think the space it all takes up is justified by the amount of usage.

And of course, anyone looking at my house would think that I also collect dust and cobwebs.

What do YOU collect hoard ?


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


WTF Wednesday

Most mornings it's the news on the radio that gradually drags me into consciousness. Yesterday I groaned as I heard about the massacre in Virginia. A 'not another one' groan... mixed with that bewilderment that a human could do that. Other mornings I sigh sadly when they happen to mention how many more people have been killed in Iraq. More bewilderment, really, about the situation that is causing it.

This morning though, it was a "huh?! - wtf?!!" when I heard about this refugee swap deal with the US. (I thought I'd misheard, till Marc came out of the shower and said, basically, wtf? about it as well.)

"Defies logic" is right. I suppose nothing should surprise me anymore over what Howard and co will do as regards refugees. Who the hell dreamt that one up?

And don't start me on the spin that his Lordship tries to put on it in that news link.

Strangely enough I'm with Labor and the Greens on this one. And Magic Bellybutton I'm sure!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Some days you could just *punch* something...

The trainer I am going to must be a mind reader. Having spent a bit too much time in my Unhappy Place over the past few weeks , I really felt like taking it all out on something, and bugger me if she didn't produce the boxing gloves for the warm up today. *punch, punch, PUNCH* *punch, punch, PUNCH* I could feel myself getting into it.. although I did restrain myself a bit. A part of me could have unleashed a frenzy that might have culminated in me collapsing in a sobbing heap.

I also am so self conscious, I'm not sure it's really me to be doing all that jumping/skipping/darting around... but you never know. It's just that I have always looked and felt like I had lead in my shoes when it comes to propelling myself around. Not someone who you could say was light on their feet! But I wonder. Maybe I could become a convert. Maybe I need to buy a punching bag and gloves, hang them in the carport or somewhere, and go out and lay into it whenever I am feeling ... the way I sometimes do.

But what I did today felt good... I do feel like I've released a bit of tension. And she worked me hard with all the rest of the stuff, so that I am feeling sore all over. Masochistic as it sounds, that makes me feel good. Sore can be good, and so it is with exercise. It unleashes some manner of endorphins which help. For sure. When I am feeling crap, I know I can rein in the demons a bit by taking myself out and getting my legs moving and my heart pumping. Just not sure it is quite enough. I am just lucky that with the kids getting older, I can just do the escape thing - throw open the door and just walk out.

I took myself up the beach yesterday afternoon. Endorphin time, and thinking time. I sorted through a bit of crap in my head, and let the tears roll a couple of times. I think I can figure out everything that is wrong 'not right' - but I don't know if I have the tools to fix it all by myself. Making the decision to go to a counsellor is one thing. Actually following through and doing it is quite another.

Punching bag? Counsellor? Or both?

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Monday, April 16, 2007


She's off on another (guilt) trip

It is the second week of the school holidays, and, again, I am not going to be in the running for any Holiday Parenting awards. I just couldn't be bothered organising ANYTHING for the kids to do. Big Ride fallout still? I don't know. Maybe just a reaction to feeling like all they do is organised recreation, so some chill out time - for them, and me, certainly won't hurt them?

Problem is, their 'chilling out' by default happens IN the house. To get them OUTSIDE I would need to ORGANISE them outside. Organise or NAG.

Eldest did organise iceskating with friends for herself the Tuesday of the first week, and harassed me till I took her shopping for clothes on another day. In between those two 'outings' she has does nothing but sloth ever since, apart from the bike ride yesterday. It is midday, and she's not surfaced. {ed. just gone 12.00 and she's appeared!! Hooray!! But she has immediately plonked herself in front of the tv...}

Middling has had a slightly more social time, but only thanks to the efforts of other parents. A sleepover the first Friday night. The Quadrathon which was with friends. She rang up one friend one day last week (I suggested they meet at the park), only to find she was already at the park. She went up there, and then ended up back at another friend's house for the afternoon. She had another sleepover the second Friday night - at someone else's place. (We don't do sleepovers here * - though that is another parental peer pressure guilt trip I am currently fighting.)

She's been hassling about going iceskating with a friend she hasn't seen yet these holidays, and I keep saying 'hmmm, talk to me tomorrow about it'. Then this morning she gets invited iceskating this afternoon with someone else. Lucky. Though she still wants to go with this other friend.

Youngest has not even asked me if she can do anything with friends. If she asked I would feel I should let her have someone over, but she hasn't even asked! She will probably ask when there are no more days left in the holidays, and then get upset. If I was a good mum, I would suggest it, wouldn't I?

But I cannot bring myself to perkily suggest they have someone over, or take them out somewhere. It all involves having to get off my backside, try and work out transport logistics, and when I have someone here, it doesn't give me the freedom to throw on my shoes and bolt out the door saying "Going for a walk, back in about 3/4 of an hour!" - or "Ducking up to the shops to get something for dinner!" It requires a degree of organisation I can't quite face at the moment. Plus, Other Kids tend to hassle me. Like, I would strangle my kids if I knew they announced at someone else's house that they were hungry!

Admittedly Wednesday and Thursday have been taken care of with a holiday netball clinic, and me being there as committee support for the duration. Tomorrow morning I take the car in for about 20 mins work on it, and I am going in to town for a BUG meeting at 5.30.

On Saturday Alison hadn't been home from the sleepover for more than an hour when she told me she 'had nothing to do'. Like a red rag to a bull that line! I reacted the only way I could. I gave her something to do - clean the bathroom vanity/basin. I don't think she is likely to complain she has nothing to do again.

*On Sleepovers. The couple of times we succumbed to 'peer pressure' and let someone stay over 'just for fun' our own children have interrupted our sleep with some issue (and they don't normally!) Marc once swore "No more sleepovers for the next 30 years!" but it is getting harder and harder to adhere to that without making your child feel like a pariah.

I have let the older two go on some on the condition that I know and trust the other parents, and that those parents also realise that we are just not into them, and we probably won't be 'returning the favour' - unless of course they need a favour, in which case I am quite happy to help out.

I feel like I am such a stick in the mud, but I am just plain selfish with my family time - and in particular 'Marc and me time' (maybe a result of all the times he is away?), and I just don't feel like having someone else's kids here in the 'us time' zone for no good reason other than for them to giggle and carry on and not go to sleep, and for our kid to be a zombie the next day. I also use the excuse of the three kids (with 2 bedrooms between them) - and the general house layout - for the whole concept being too much of a pain to do. I have only struck one other mum around here who thinks the same as us. Our view is "Go out, have a good time, then come home to your own bed! - like adults do!" Frankly I can't relate to the 'alpha' streak in the parents who seem to love to do it! But as always, I feel 'bad' because I don't want to!

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This is Meez

I just wasted half an hour, and nearly blew up the computer RAM and Blogger, creating a Meez that I could relate to, and trying to upload the pic here. (Blogger somehow thought it should put it up 19 times!)

How hard was it to wade through all the popular culture and fashion to find a 'look' that even approximated me?! The hairstyle isn't quite right.. but then again, I SHOULD be wearing a helmet. And get started riding the damn bike will ya!! It reminds me of Zoe's tentativeness trying to get started riding her own bike. (The full version has 'me' whizzing off, and coming back doing a wheelie, which is so not me anyway...)

I went back to to get me a smaller version, and it has since decided that my browser is no longer up to it.

You'd think I would have something better to do with my day, wouldn't you!


Sunday, April 15, 2007



We did some (more) bike riding, as you might guess from the photo. (I like my new cycling glasses -they have interchangeable lenses, so that you can put clear ones in on rainy/cloudy days (or very early mornings!). A very handy, just before the Big Ride purchase. Sometimes I feel like we can be gear freaks, but good gear is good gear! - they make it for a reason.

Marc and I did the early morning get-up again on Saturday morning, so as to go into the community ride. This time we couldn't ride in because he had to stay in town and go to work. (We left about the same time as we did to ride in, because of having to factor in time to get the bike off the car!). Still, we rode about 35km we wouldn't have done otherwise, and got to chat to people afterwards. Sometimes, yes, I am social.

Today we dragged our poor overworked and over-challenged kids out again on a BUG (Bicycle User Group) ride of 40km - a ride from the Pacific Highway (south of Coffs) to Bellingen, but via secondary roads that more or less follow the banks of the river. It was a terrific ride; not much traffic, great scenery, and even through a fair bit of shade! There were a few hills, but nothing to daunt us. (The legs are feeling it a bit tonight though - so it means we must have worked at it!)

So I am feeling good that we have done "some exercise", and slightly less guilty for partaking of the lemon delicious quick mix cakes Cait made yesterday.

In between the activity, I am feeling weary, and I'm looking at the clock right now wondering if we might beat the older two kids to bed tonight. Despite my week of slothful sleep-ins, the 5 am start yesterday hit me mid-afternoon. I went upstairs with the idea of perhaps vacuuming our room - lay on the bed 'for a minute', and ended up dropping off. I don't usually do the daytime power nap thing - have never been able to - even through the sleep deprivation of night feeding of 3 babies. And it doesn't usually work as a housework avoidance strategy. Marc can recharge his batteries with a 10 mins power down which he implements within 5 seconds of deciding to do so - a talent I am just slightly envious of. Normally I only sleep in the daytime if I am sick. Hmmm, maybe I AM sick! Or perhaps the early mornings are beginning to reprogram me, proving that changing habits and routines is entirely possible. Not that long ago I would have laughed if you'd told me I'd be voluntarily getting up at 5 am to go and do some exercise. Now I am doing it more often than I care to admit, and I can even now mostly eat breakfast at that time without feeling sick!

I had very weird, intense dreams last night though. I felt like I'd been through the wringer; at 7.00 I didn't much like the idea of waking up. One of the dreams involved me trying to see a counsellor, who kept getting interrupted, and other staff from the kids' school kept trying to sit in on the appointment. When I got assertive and demanded they leave somehow it ended up with a whole heap of people trying to get me into a hospital (like being committed), and I was on the run, and flying overseas to escape them, and trying to tell my youngest that I loved her, that I'd be back, and that I really wasn't mad. Sheesh.. some strange stuff happening "upstairs" here.

Still another week of school holidays - perhaps I should attempt to achieve just a teensy bit more than last week.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007


I don't know about "Gorgeous".. but...

OK, so my mate Misc Mum has started another 'self-reflection' prompt type challenge thingy for blog posts. She's called it "Hello Gorgeous". The idea is to find a photo of yourself from any age, a photo that you like. One you are "Truly happy with", to quote MM:

"The picture could have red-eye, be blurry or slightly distorted, but there will be a look on your face that you recognize as you: true and unadulterated."

Me being me, of course, I couldn't relate at all to ever feeling "gorgeous".. Could be a reflection of starting to feel my age - dealing with the onset of wrinkles, and looking, oh, about 20 years older than I did 20 years ago? Or maybe because of some of the shit I'm going through emotionally right now... I'm not sure. I immediately posted a 'woe is me' comment, wailing that I've never related to ever feeling 'gorgeous'.

After a cup of tea, a bex and a good lie down (ok, well, just the nap -I got up at 5 am to go bike riding ok!).. and then sussing out MM's own example, I decided I needed to follow through with the project, for the sake of my self esteem - even if I still couldn't relate to the pink button! Too girlie!! (Yes! Sorry! Even though my daughter made it for her!!!)

This is the photo I have chosen.

I didn't really intend to go back to that age, where I'd just get wistful over my lost youth.. but this one does capture a time when I was really happy and carefree, almost as if I'd discovered the meaning of life. Maybe I had. The meaning of my life, anyway.

It was taken around 1987 or 1988 when I was twenty something. I'd finished college, was working, finally independent, and after feeling like the proverbial square peg (trying to fit in and have a 'good time' the way everyone else did) I'd met people (and one person in particular) who showed me how to have a good time doing a range of amazing and challenging things outdoors. We used to spend most weekends and holidays out bush somewhere.. In summer we'd spend a lot of weekends canyoning and this photo was taken when we were eating lunch in the middle of a canyon. We'd brought yoghurt, but forgotten the spoons, so we were improvising with orange peel. And I think, from memory it was just before doing a very memorable, free fall abseil - the canyon was called, most appropriately "Heart Attack"!

Hmmm, still makes me wistful. Slimmer, younger... *sighs*. But not 'girlie' !! And anytime I manage to get back out somewhere like a canyon, my inner self still does feel as happy as I look in this photo.

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The green eyed monster?

I started commenting on Rootie's post - about whether her 'omega' reactions to the 'alpha mom' phenomenon was just good old-fashioned envy - and my comment was turning into a long-winded post, so I've made it a long-winded post here on my own blog instead. Not what I was going to babble on about today, but whatever!

Rootie reckoned that it suddenly hit her that much of her ranting criticism was born out of envy - that if she'd had the money, hell, she would have hired a nanny too!

My thoughts are that, hmmm, maybe there's an element of envy in the Omega Reaction, but again, even that is individual. My reaction, for example, is not a 'financial' one, but, I do confess, there's a bit of that monster lurking.

I believe we all react 'uniquely' due to our own 'baggage'. Because I haven't worked (yet!) since I had kids, I am mostly hypersensitive to those mums that do, because they look to be so much more effective than me! - what with balancing a career and motherhood... I am always looking for 'reasons' why they appear to be able to "do it" where I can't. (And I can relate only if they admit to other self-perceived "failings". If they don't, I need to pick out the differences in our circumstances because only that makes me feel better.)

The reality is that most who look like they are 'doing it all' manage only with the 'village' that whatshername mentions in 'that' article. Extended family: minding the children while you go to work. Or go shopping! (Pfft! - the grandparents of my kids are hundreds of miles away, but even if they weren't, my mother wouldn't have, and I wouldn't have asked her.)... The husband not working away for days/weeks at a time like mine was... The husband finishing work by 4.30/5.00 so they can share in the afternoon 'stuff' with the kids: I still get stirrings of envy when I see the dads picking up their kids from school and taking them to whatever is on after school. 3.00?! How do they do it?!... The husband actually being home in time for dinner with the rest of the family, even. "Your husband is home by 6.00?! I'd just about faint if mine got home from work by then!" ...Paying a lot of money for long day care, or nannies (not that I saw much of the nanny thing in my social circle!) - no, well, I couldn't afford a nanny even if I wanted to... Or what still gets up my nose, getting non-working suckers like me to take their kid somewhere for them because they 'have to work' - Hello! I choose not to work, but not to be a taxi driver for other people's kids. We don't live beyond our means.. we have never owned a new car.. haven't felt like we just HAD to have a pool.. or resort holidays... etc etc.. (you get the picture?...) Yes, yes, I know that many are doing it much tougher financially, and they need to work.. but.. just don't make me feel inferior because I don't work, ok!)

Then I'd see single parents doing it all on their own. The only 'excuse' I could come up with for me then was that I was single part of the time and partnered part of the time, and couldn't get into a routine!!! *Ahem*. And, sheesh, well, many of those single parents get time out from the kids when their ex takes the kids! (Yep, I've really been desperate for excuses!)

Well, really, when I was honest with myself, all I could really do is take my hat off to them. And take my hat off to the many working mums, who, even with an ever 'present' husband, in the majority, still do most of the domestic 'management'. I knew that me trying to do that would tip me over the edge, because I'm just not that good!

Personally, I can't admit to feeling the financial 'envy' about being able to afford babysitters, nannies, sleep consultants!... With slightly more 'spaced apart' kids, and with no really bad sleep issues, no, I didn't have it quite so tough as some, although looking back I think I've actually managed a lot of it on my own quite well, thank you very much.

Somewhere in that first year, even though I didn't set out to do it, I realised that I wanted to be the primary caregiver; I didn't want to outsource that part to anyone else. A few times when they were little I considered the notion of going back to work, and I'd start crying because I didn't WANT to.. I couldn't bear the thought of putting them in childcare a few days a week. (And I was very lucky that financially, we could manage that.) Maybe part of that was because I didn't have the career drive (and thus the earning capacity from a high powered job)I turned it into a matter of pride that I could do it 'on my own' - so to speak. I don't know!!

Mind you, I did explore family day care for one day a week when my first baby was about 12 months old. I didn't have any paid work, but as we'd been owner building a house (doing all the work themselves), I felt I actually could have done with a bit of time out - emotionally - and I thought if I could have one day a week where I could work on the house - painting or whatever...(rather than me finding a job, then paying a painter with the proceeds.) The Family Day Care coordinator I struck was incredibly rude. It wasn't that I wasn't 'eligible' for it, but because I wasn't working, I was certainly not a priority. She could have stopped there, but she had to imply that I didn't NEED it, only REAL working mothers needed it. Besides which, 'it would be better for the child to be in 2 or 3 days than just one'. One day would be detrimental to the child's emotional state! Apparently! I do still remember getting off the phone and bursting into tears for the way she made me feel... and I think the bad way she handled my enquiry very nearly did push me into a nervous breakdown, because I really was very borderline on needing some time out. If I had been any closer to the 'edge', I don't like to imagine the consequences... and looking back, I think there was a period when my baby might well have been better off emotionally had her mummy had one day - 6 hours! - without her. Mummy would have felt like she'd contributed more to the building of the house, and .. yes, well.. a lot of things...

Hmmm, so anyway, my "envy" is not so much the money issue. When my husband worked overseas for 3 months straight one year, we did say that I was 'earning' the money as much as him, and that I should at the very least pay someone to mow the lawn. It wasn't that we couldn't afford it, but I was so stubborn, I wanted to be able to prove that I could do it - without support. I could walk up and down pushing a bloody lawn mower! It was a matter of pride to me that because I wasn't trying to work as well, I should be able to do everything else. (Even when each time I got the mower out I'd nearly have a breakdown because it was very temperamental to start!) It's a pity I don't have the same pride thing about the housework - but at the same time, pride wouldn't let me get in a cleaner at that time as well. Nor now, even though we could probably afford that too! The house is just a debacle and it would be too embarrassing for anyone to see at close quarters my failings in that department.

So I am wondering if, yes, perhaps my reaction to this 'alpha mum' thing is because the term 'alpha' makes me think that they "think" they are 'better', somehow. To use a Dooce-ism, it's as if this whole alpha thing is about striving to be the 'valedictorian' of mummyhood.

And we who have reacted latch on to an area that we don't feel strong in, or choose not to - for whatever reasons we have. With me it's working. Yes, I feel inadequate because I have kind of stuffed up in the career department!! Or doing stuff like preparing the meals with my children since they were 2 (because even though it sounds like a wonderful thing to bring your children up to do, I just wouldn't have the patience for it!). Or having an immaculate house, and a trim, taut, terrific body.

With others, it's stuff like "Yeah, well, I could look that 'alpha' if I could have afforded to have paid a nanny", or had the time and money to go to the gym... Or they say 'just because your kids do a lot of organised sport/activities afterschool (and I choose not to) DOESN'T MEAN YOU ARE BETTER THAN ME!

The term 'alpha' somehow implies striving to be 'the best'.. and when, in our own eyes, we don't measure up to the hype, the examples, the 'advice columns', then we feel inadequate, and that old green eyed monster peers over the shoulder and whispers stuff into our ears that we really should know is rubbish.


Friday, April 13, 2007


This slack mother.. woman...

... chose to go back to bed and read this morning, rather than go and have a hit of tennis.

... finished her book, had breakfast at about 11.00, and has sat here ever since, apart from rising once or twice for coffee and to hang a load of washing out.

... wonders why she makes things so hard for herself - fitness and exercise-wise and socially!

... has two out of her three daughters being similarly slothful. (The other one has been up, out, fed and walked a friend's dog, and is about to go to a friend's place for a sleepover. I have issues with sleepovers (which I'll save for another self-flagellating "I'm a terrible parent" post).. but I suppose at least she is doing something.

Excuses, Excuses:

Well, I did get up and iron his shirt! Oh slack housewife I am that his shirts are not all neatly pressed and hung. In a wardrobe. (Hah.. what wardrobe?)

And, well, it is a while since I buried myself in a book. When I do, the family will tell you that I am usually lost to them for the duration. It's all or nothing with me with reading. I've just finished the last book in the Troy Game - by Sara Douglass. I've been a bit ambivalent about this series. Along with others who had been involved as moderators on Sara's bulletin board, I received the first two as gifts from her. I wanted so much to adore them, but I got a bit restless with the whole premise, and the details. (But then, I am a bit like that with all fantasy - despite which I get sucked in.) So, with Druid's Sword, I started reading it because I found it in the library, and just for the sake of reading. Despite myself I got hooked, and I've had my nose in it a bit over the past few slacko days. And this morning I read till I finished it.

I guess it's called escapism. (I do think that the better way to read fantasy epics is to start when all the books are already published, because otherwise there is such a time gap between books, you forget all the details!)


Family! Self! We apologise for this break in transmission. Normal programming should resume shortly.

Well, maybe.

Why did I opt out of playing tennis? Tennis is 'my' sport, and after being invited to play Ladies Midweek last year with some other mums I'd got to know (through my kids' netball - see there is a reason for organised sport - it's a way for the parents to meet other people!), I've signed up again, and the first game in the comp starts Thursday week. But I haven't had a racquet in my hand since the last game of the last comp!

But the anti-social idiot sloth in me didn't feel like going to play with 'all the oldies' at the Friday morning social tennis up at the local tennis courts. I don't really know why, I just didn't want to go. Just didn't want to mingle and make small talk, and I don't know why.

My legs are crying out for me to get them moving. Other than a barely 10 min each way walk between the Toyota Dealership and the Plaza yesterday, I did nothing energy-wise. (Although standing outside fitting rooms while children try on clothes saps your energy in a more debilitating way!)

I am about to take another car to another mechanic's for a rego check, and now that I've wasted so much time here, ideas of taking my bike and riding it while I wait have fizzled. Instead of sitting while I wait I will go and walk. Somewhere! For 20 minutes!

I just rang and got an appointment for a leg wax at 3.15. Somehow when I get that done it seems to strip away some of the sloth within - don't ask me why that is either. It is one of the few typical 'woman' type things I choose to do.

And then I shall return and ride around the block with Zoe, who needs to spend time riding her own bike, because she's just so cautious and timid about it.

And try to get back into the mindset of the woman who was thriving on the fitness, and the mood-altering high that exercise can induce. And on the centimetres she had lost but are insidiously trying to creep back on again!! Why is it that weight seems to stack itself on about 10 times quicker than it takes to lose the same amount?

Perhaps this slightly extreme trough I am in is a reaction to the intensity of the
Big Ride. (I still haven't gotten over all those 5 am starts!) And all that other emotional stuff which keeps jumping up and grabbing me when I am not expecting it.


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Thursday, April 12, 2007


The minutiae of my school holiday life.

No whinges, no tapping off.. just 'minutiae'.

It might not be very interesting though. Sometimes I think me having a rant is much more exciting.

I've done a lot of sleeping in, which I feel a bit guilty about, especially when Marc is having to go to work, and the work is stressful to the point that I am quite concerned about him.

He likened it last night to having about 20 cakes to make at once, and everyone's cake order is urgent, so he is having to try to make them all at once, instead of what would be the sensible thing to do and make them one after the other. Problem with doing that is he has 'contractors' he must supervise - and he can't leave them doing nothing while he concentrates on making sure his cakes are done properly, because they will be being paid a few hundred dollars an hour to do nothing.

Meantime the cake orders keep coming in (and he gets more emails in a day than he has time to deal with). And people from that project in Malaysia coming out today and tomorrow, so that one guy who has 'all the knowledge in his head' can impart what he knows.

Maybe I should have made him resign.

At least he got sleep-ins over Easter. And at least given I'm at home, he doesn't have to worry about what's for dinner, and all that sort of crap. Except when I do stuff like make bolognaise for dinner, then realise I didn't buy spaghetti while I was in town! And so he has to stop at the shops and buy spaghetti on the way home.

We went in to the shops on Tuesday because #1 had organised to go iceskating with friends. I was feeling blecchy that day (hence forgetting the spaghetti) but it didn't stop me spending money... (or maybe that's what made me spend money!)

I bought this apple slicing/coring/peeling machine:

I had seen it at christmas time when we visited a friend, and I thought back then "I want one!". She'd got it through a school fundraiser thingy though. I'd forgotten about it till someone mentioned bringing theirs to netball so we might try to flog some slightly healthier alternatives to all the lollies we sell. She told me where I could buy one around here.

I think we are going to be getting through a lot more apples around here, simply because of the novelty value. It's even making me eat one right now.

I also bought some new sandals for me. Don't get too excited. These are Orthaheel casual slip-on sandals to wear around the house, and not too far afield. Given that I have to wear orthotics in my normal shoes, you can imagine how hard it is to wear casual slip-ons. The girls have not called them 'Grandma shoes' yet - they probably realise they will get a flea in their ear if they do.

And I had to buy the younger two more joggers. Ali's were coming apart at the sole, and Zoe was growing out of hers. Kids! Why do they have to keep growing (and wearing things out?!)

They wear them everyday for school, plus need them to be ok for cross country which is coming up this term. I went in to Amart Sports because I felt I should attempt to buy cheaper shoes if at all possible. I wasn't in the headspace for it - feeling a bit nauseous and dizzy. Then I survey tables upon tables of shoes on sale, as well as all the shoes at 'normal' prices on the wall display. It made me more dizzy. How the hell would I know what was an appropriate fit.?(Given my orthotic issues, I have always erred on the side of expense and having them fitted for shoes which give them appropriate support, as they all tend to pronate like I do - or so the machine at Athlete's Foot tells me.) I was asked if I needed some assistance, and when I said yes, we need joggers, and they need to be measured, the guy said 'Um, we can't find our shoe measurerer at the moment.'

FFS!! Oh well, it was the excuse I needed to walk out, drive round to the Plaza, and let Athletes Foot do all the decision making for me. The only problem I had there was that there was only the one style in kids shoes (which thank heavens Ali still fits in, even though she could also fit in an adult's size at around $50 more!)- BUT! They only had that style with PINK bits, and my 11, nearly 12, year old daughter DOES NOT LIKE PINK. Nor is she particularly enamoured of having exactly the same shoes as her 8 year old sister!!

Her only other option was the boys' style, and it had far too much black on it for her liking. I buried my head in my hands for a minute.. and Thankfully! she opted for the lesser of two evils - pink trim. And, after the assistant suggested it, she came home and coloured over some of the trim with a blue texta.

Had a lazy day yesterday. Guilty as anything because I spent far too much of it inside, and it was the best day we'd had since the start of the holidays/Easter. Wind had dropped to a bearable level. Finally I dragged Zoe with me to walk up onto the headland near us (and then walk up the beach with me), so that I got a big dose of 'DO YOU REALISE JUST HOW BLOODY LUCKY YOU ARE LIVING WHERE YOU DO?'

Our house is only one street back from the street along the beachfront.

And this is 'our' headland.

Meanwhile Caitlin stayed in her pjs ALL DAY, and I just didn't have the energy to hassle her. Her logic is that in term time it's full on (and she is right), so I suppose, why shouldn't she be a sloth. Even if it's excruciatingly hard to deal with as a parent because you feel she should be out in the fresh air getting just a little bit of exercise...

Today we have to hit the shops again, this time for her, because, goddammit, the girl has grown out of pretty much all her clothes. Hello puberty, belated as it is compared to her peers. Problem is this is just the start of it, really. She has finally got the height, but is just starting with the shape. So it is a bit scary wondering how long anything we buy today will fit her. The girl does need to wear clothes though, so there is nothing for it but to buy stuff.

What is even more scary is if she doesn't fit into the chainstore clothes anymore, and we have to venture in to the OTHER shops.. the ones with the REALLY REALLY LOUD music, and clothes that are designed to only go half way up their bum crack.

Wish me luck.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007


If you can't say something nice I will put you in the trash can.

The one good thing about your own blog - as opposed to say a bulletin board - or 'real life' even - is that you have the power to hit a delete button. So when you get wallies who don't read the request in your sidebar - the one that says 'If you can't say something nice, don't say ANYTHING' - you can just ERASE them.

You know the type... the people who don't like what you've written because they think it is trivial, but find the time to post an even more trivial comment telling you that you that they can't believe you have the time to waste on trivial topics! AND! They are always too gutless to say who they are. "Anonymous to protect identity"? Give me a break. 'Anonymous because I am Gutless' would be more appropriate.

So, it is such a liberating feeling again today to be able to hit that little trash can, and tick the box that says 'Delete comment forever'.

Don't you wish you had one of them in the 'real' world sometimes - for the type of people that are unnecessarily and insufferably rude for no reason at all. The type that think they must be better than you ! That come into your personal space, and then say something to put you down.

By all means, gutless people, write your own blogs, and have a whinge about the blogs you think are full of trivial stuff. But while you're doing that, just realise that you are doing exactly the same. Writing about something TRIVIAL!

Which is what I'm doing right now, but hey, I'm not the one writing negative things on other people's blogs, criticising them for being trivial !!!!!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


What woman doesn't...?

While I'm in an Omega mood, I have to write about something that gets me all 'grrrr', so that I have to fight off the "is there something wrong with me" heebie jeebies.

It's the generalising of women in regard to their typical habits, and likes and dislikes. Sometimes you see it in the jokey emails doing the rounds, and other times people just drop it into conversation. I probably get more annoyed when women do it, because I think they should know better that as a gender we have so many individual differences!

At the school recently I opted to buy tickets in a raffle for the fruit & veg tray rather than the basket of body products. The (very annoying) woman from the front office tried to talk me into the basket.. "What woman wouldn't love this..."... My response: "Well, me, actually - I hate all that stuff!!"

For the record, I am woman (hear me roar), but I don't like:

There are other 'characteristics' usually attributed to 'all women' that tend to annoy me, but I'll stick with my practical list for the moment...

I know that there are similar generalisations made about men, so I'm not just getting all on my feminist high horse here... (I growl to myself when women bag their husbands for misdemeanours that they attribute to their husband being simply a male, rather than his particular personality.)

So the next time you are about to say 'What woman wouldn't like...' - think again! If I said 'What woman wouldn't want to ride 450 km on a tandem with her daughter' you'd think I was nuts, but I'd rather do that than wear or use any of the above!

Does anyone else react to these generalisations, or is it just me?!!

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