Tuesday, July 31, 2007


If you (could) start me up...


Monday and Tuesday I shamefully wasted. Shame, shame , shamefully. I don't know what happens to each day. (Yes, I do, it's called THE COMPUTER). As usual it was the domestics that I excelled at avoiding, although I did have a quick go at fitted sheet folding. My attempt was rather underwhelming, although neater than my usual scrunch-up-and-shove-in-the-linen-press job. It all seems a bit pointless though when all the other sheets in there are a big mess. Yes, I know, I should clean out the linen press. But I didn't.

I didn't do any exercise either. Shame on me some more. Though, at least we rode on the weekend (it was just all downhill from Monday.)

So I will mention my weekend because at least I did something.

We did our usual early morning bike ride madness on Saturday. We also handed over our oldest tandem - it was bought by a family so that the Dad could ride with his daughter, so that is one more tandem convert we have made, and one less tandem in the back shed. Marc and I rode our singles, and it only emphasised why having a tandem is a good thing for us - as he gets frustrated with how slow I ride, and I get frustrated at how fast he would like me to ride. On a tandem you always arrive together, and a road tandem, even with me on the back, satisfies his Need for Speed.

On Sunday we went out on the triplet and new tandem with the kids - a short ride to the local township, fish 'n chips by the beach, and ride home again. Only 15km, which these days is "nothing".

We swapped stokers again, so that Caitlin could have a turn on the triplet. Everyone wants to ride the triplet. Riding with Mum is the consolation prize - like coming second in the Tour de France . (Go Cadel!) The triplet is the cool machine, as you can imagine. ("Wow, check out THAT bike!") Plus Dad rides faster, especially downhill. Yee ha.

So the kids work, like most second place getters, on the principle that there is always next year. And I suppose in terms of our family tandem riding it is the start of 'next season'; theoretically Cait has done her penance with Mum by doing the Big Ride with me earlier in the year, and now she has Earnt the Right to ride on the triplet.

From Mum and Dad's perspective, though, riding with Alison is second prize. Bloody hell, I felt like I was humping along a sack of potatoes. In theory we could be unstoppable if we could only get going, but we just couldn't seem to get going. By the time we got home I was ready to give up on riding tandems with the kids. We don't understand why it is so, as she is actually stronger and fitter than Caitlin, and we always would have classed her as a better (solo) bike rider. She just doesn't seem capable of riding.. um.. in tandem.. so to speak. She is jerky, and clocks off... So it looks like Marc (being the stronger out of us two, will have to ride with her) and Caitlin will be rewarded for her better stoking and teamwork skills by the consolation prize of riding with me. Something about that all kind of sucks, really. I suppose it involves Life Lessons in give and take and working together for the good of the 'team' and that sort of stuff.

Wednesday I sat on my butt in the car for about 5 hours - driving nearly 400 km - to Port and back for the gyno appointment. [All is fine there... nothing sinister... maybe I'm heading for menopause and my hormones are forgetting, occasionally, what their role is supposed to be in the second half of my cycle. Am going to see how things go and hopefully avoid having to take progesterone...]

I then drove Zoe to a tennis lesson, and then later, after dinner, had a wasted 45km return trip to town to pick eldest and a teammate up from netball. They got a lift with someone else who wasn't going to be there, despite the fact that they knew the arrangement was for me to pick them up. Don't get me started ranting about that - I would be unstoppable.

And around that time my body thought Well, you've kind of wasted the week so far.. Why not blow off another day... Marc was actually taking Thursday off, and we had made plans to go riding some distance on the tandem. (As training for your next crazy 100 miles in a day bike riding adventure coming up in a few weeks?)

Hmm, so .... How about some stomach cramps? (that you initially think are period cramps, even though they are coming at the end of your combined post-hysteroscopy bleeding and period... But then, because of being concentrated just to the right of centre of abdomen, and , coming in waves, and making you feel kind of nauseous, you start to wonder what the symptoms of appendicitis are. But then you realise it's probably gas/wind/constipation...


So I'm ok. (Thanks for asking in last post's comments Jeanie!) I wasn't "ok" but there are degrees of "not ok", and in the scheme of things, it doesn't really rate, except to stop me from finally getting started this week.

And, well, Thursday, when we didn't ride, he did get to tinker with bikes, and put a new, shorter stem on the new tandem. And put new handlebar tape on my handlebars on the back of the road tandem. And change saddles around. And he got to have a go at going to the shops to buy stuff for dinner and then make it (with some assistance from children) while I played at being pathetic. And whenever he gets in the kitchen, for some reason he gets a bee in his bonnet about trying to dejunk the house, which is exactly what I need (NOT) when I am not feeling very well. (Because it means he wants to know What do I do with this? and Do you need this? and Did you know this was broken? and I'm not exactly in the frame of mind to give a shit stuff about it!)

A day in town this morning for an appointment and errands and some shopping, and I'm trying to get some netball handouts finished for tomorrow. Our weekend is written off with a netball carnival on Sunday, but we will go for our early morning bike ride tomorrow. And I'm about to go to my swimming squad - first time back after a 4 week break over mid-winter.

And hopefully next week I'll really get started.


Monday, July 30, 2007


And so you never need to buy another packet mix again.

Check out the ingredients on a packet cake mix. Do you really need all that extra artificial crap? Really, truly, ruly, the butter and sugar is naughty enough. And packet mixes do taste like.. packet mixes.

My favourite cake recipe book is my Australian Womens Weekly Quick Mix cake book. With it, you never need to buy a packet mix again, ever! Because, seriously, how much harder is it to chuck a few ingredients in a mixmaster bowl. No creaming butter and sugar. No adding things slowly... no sifting flour, no complicated instructions. Chuck it all in one bowl, mix it up, chuck it in a cake pan and chuck that in the oven. Easy peasy.

Jeanie asked me for the recipe for the Golden Caramel Cake, so here is that one, plus the Lemon Delicious one I have possibly also mentioned in the past. I shall make a point of typing up some of our other favourites and adding them later.

(I guess some countries might need to convert this somehow to imperial measurements...all of these are metric cups. SR flour = Self Raising Flour, which is the flour with the rising agent added. ) * click on the pic to the right for the conversion tips from the book. [I never realised our tablespoons were different to even NZ !]

The baba tin is also called other names... which at the moment elude me - but essentially they are a ring tin with a molded base, so that the upturned cake has an attractive mold. I don't think mine is 21cm; I don't think it really matters.

Main tip is to make sure the butter is softened - you can't get away with slightly firm butter like you can when you are just creaming butter and sugar.


185g butter
¾ cup (150g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup (80 ml) golden syrup
1 ½ cups SR flour
½ cup plain flour
¾ cup milk

Grease 21 cm baba cake pan. Combine all ingredients in med bowl – beat on low speed till ingredients are combined, then on medium speed till mixture is smooth and changed in colour. Spread into prepared pan – bake mod oven about 45 mins – stand few mins before turning onto wire rack to cool.

* This is super yummy drizzled with melted chocolate. Fill the hole in the middle with strawberries, and serve with cream!


125g butter, chopped
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 ¼ cups (275g) castor sugar
3 eggs
½ cup (125ml) milk
1 ½ cups (225g) SR flour
¼ cup lemon juice

Coat 21 cm baba cake pan with non-stick spray. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl of electric mixer, beat on low speed until ingredients are combined. Then, beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth and changed in colour. Pour and spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake in mod. Oven about 50 mins. Turn onto wire rack to cool.

Dust cold cake with sifted icing sugar if desired.

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Sister Act

So rarely do my eldest two show any sisterly allegiance (as I have pondered before) that when they do, I'm ready to pop the champagne corks.

During the week, Cait and her friend/teammate, J. were frustrated with the slacker attitude of half their current local netball team - both in turning up to training and the way they play on Saturdays. The friend also has a younger sister, S. who is the same age as Alison (and a good player - she was in the rep team till she broke her leg iceskating during the April school holidays!).

I was driving Cait and J. back from a training session that was cancelled due to lack of numbers.

"Next year, with Ali and S. going up to Intermediates, maybe you should all play together - with the four of you, that's pretty much half your team covered! " [Our association is so small that divisions are a range of ages - Alison's rep team actually played "up" in the Intermediate division this year, and so they have played against each other.]

The instinctive reaction of the 14 year olds was to poo poo the idea, but it didn't take long for Cait to admit, "Actually, I'd rather play with her than against her." J. admitted the same of her sister.

At home when I told Alison, she at least immediately thought the same, and in the other household the sentiment is the same. (And the parents think it's a great idea too, and only some of that is because it will effectively reduce the training sessions we have to get them to!)

So the idea has gained momentum, and they can hardly wait for this season to be over with now, so they can get happening with a decent team! (And, as the initiators, and the core of the team, they will get to choose who joins them. I suggested they take a leaf out of the Sydney Swans "No Dickheads" recruitment policy. ("They have that? Are you serious, Mum?") (Trust me, that is true, and also, given the attitudes of some (all too many IMHO) teenage girls, it's not inapplicable to your situation!!)

On Saturday, Alison's rep team won on forfeit, so she and S. were just hangin' until we could leave. At half time Cait's team was short when someone came off sick, so over the next two quarters, both Ali and S. filled in. Ali and Cait both play attack, and passed the ball to each other effortlessly. J and S both play great defence, so together they made an impact.

I didn't hear it myself, but apparently when Cait came off she said,
"I can't wait to play with Alison next year!"

Yes, if I could gold plate that, frame it, and hang it on the wall I would.

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Friday, July 27, 2007


Wanted: memory upgrade

So I had an appointment card from the Dentist - with three appointments - one for each child. I very "efficiently" transcribed the times onto my calendar, and then threw the card out. [A valiant but misguided attempt at dejunking my life...]

As this week progresses I check the calendar and make strategic arrangements to fit the appointments around the usual afternoon activities. Monday morning's one goes off without a hitch. Take kid to 9.00 appointment; drop her late at school. [And hope like hell the hygienist's analogy of badly cleaned and unflossed teeth smelling like the bottom of a garbage bin makes some impact on the 14 year old who often "forgets" to clean her teeth.]

By Tuesday I'm thinking ahead to the next day, and I'm eyeing off the Wednesday afternoon madness, which includes a 4.40 dentist appointment for Zoe. I turn to a friend and we come up with a complicated car pooling arrangement, whereby my eldest gets a lift with her to town for netball, and in return I arrange to pick up one of her kids from a local activity and bring her home with me until the husband gets home.

During Wednesday I get a courtesy call from the Dentist to remind me of the 4.40 appointment on Thursday afternoon. Duh! Got that wrong didn't I. But Wednesday afternoon suddenly gets easier, and I make a mental note for Thursday. (The term 'mental' here, in retrospect, is apt.)

Thursday I have tennis, and then I stop by the shops on my way home. I am chuffed with myself for being assertive with the jewellers when I go to return the watch I bought Alison for her birthday. "We only exchange or give store credit." Me [firmly, and 3 times to separate assistants going up the scale in seniority]: "No... I was told I could get a refund if my daughter didn't like it. I WOULD NOT HAVE BOUGHT IT IN THE FIRST PLACE OTHERWISE." They finally gave me the refund.

At home I spend some time counselling middle child about how to deal with the fact that the friend who spent time here the previous evening blundered in and 'had a go' on the friendship bracelets Ali was making for her rep teammates, making mistakes and making more work for Alison.

We realise the time and race off to her netball training, and I get chatting instead of coming home. Then I get a call from eldest daughter at home. The dentist's have rung, and I've missed the 4.40 appointment! DOH! They must get so frustrated with people who do that, particularly when they give the courtesy call reminder the day before.

Damn this memory failure thing. Was I was too flushed with my own rare display of determined, yet polite assertiveness in the shop? Or the fact that I was filling my mind with an unnecessary amount of 'chuffedness' re the fact that I actually played quite well at tennis thankyouverymuch!

Am I on the slippery slope to early onset Alzheimers, or is this normal for mothers? (Of my age?)

Can I get a memory upgrade?

Or do I just now and for the rest of my life need a system where I record things in 10 different places as memory prompts?

So this morning I've phoned the dentists and done my apologies. And rescheduled. And written up the other appointment scheduled for Monday afternoon on my odds and ends reminder whiteboard - heaven help me, I don't want to forget that one.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Spontaneity rulz, ok

You could also call it "winging it". Or Chaos Theory, where, if you're lucky, sometimes, you can cobble up something special for someone out of the disorganisation, and you can pull it off as if you'd been planning it for ages.

It was Middle daughter's birthday yesterday - 12!! I did have the pressies sorted (I'm not that bad!), but we hadn't yet sorted out any sort of party or outing with friends. (I'm slack like that these days). It turned out that Marc had a late Touch game - he wouldn't get home till nearly 9pm - so the family birthday dinner concept wasn't really looking that flash.

An idea hit me during the morning, and I called her friend's grandmother and arranged for the friend to arrive for dinner at around 5.30 as a surprise. It turned out to be a surprise for her friend too, as she had gone straight from school to a 'physi' lesson, so she had no idea she was coming either till her grandmother turned off their normal route home.

The standard birthday M.O. in our house is for the birthday girl to choose what to have for dinner. If it's a weekend or Dad can get home from work in time, it would inevitably be something cooked by on the BBQ - but she was limited to me and my kitchen last night, and what I could produce around the usual afternoon taxi run. Caitlin had netball training from 4-5, and I still had to get to the shops to actually buy the ingredients!

She chose Fettucine Carbonara - which I made for once with real cream (and decided never to try and make a low fat version again because it's soooo much nicer this way - believe it or not!) And garlic bread. And I whipped up one of my fail-safe quick mix cakes. (Golden Caramel Cake - using brown sugar and golden syrup in.. Mmmmm).

She even got away without salad as I forgot to buy lettuce at the shops. (Actually, I refused to pay $4.90 !!! for an iceberg lettuce; had thought to try a different shop and then within 5 minutes of thinking that - and having a chat to someone in the shop - forgot to go there. Typical really.)

When it came to icing the cake after we'd had the carbonara, I thought I might melt some chocolate to drizzle over it. I didn't have any normal or even cooking chocolate in the cupboard, but I thought I could melt some of those choc bits. Hmmm, do you think the fact that choc bits retain their shape when you bake them might mean that they won't actually melt? And that they make 'melts' for that purpose if you are too lazy to use real chocolate ? Duh!

So, dusted icing sugar it would have to be. Till Cait suggested I do chocolate glace icing. Hmmm, what a good idea. So even though I'd already dusted the cake with the icing sugar, I drizzled choc icing over it, then scattered smashed Maltesers* on top, and filled the hole in the middle, and it looked kind of arty in a Blue Poles or Meester Hart! What A Mess!! fashion. (Ok, so maybe not actually that good.) Cait put an array of deliberately non-matching candles over it, including one glow in the dark one, 3 spherical smileys, and one that continually relights when you blow it out.

I think having her friend there made it just a bit better than it would have been.

I'm still vaguely thinking about when and where she could do something with her group of friends. When inspiration hits and/or I pull my finger out and decide, I'll call it spontaneity.

Over the weekend I also spontaneously bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and spontaneously read it and finished it by about 1 am on Sunday night. I am not obsessed by Harry (no really I'm not!) but I've always found it hard to put the books down when I read them. (Though I must confess not much of the previous one stuck in my memory - I did a quick Wikipedia-reconnaissance on the plot outline of The Half Blood Prince to refresh my memory, and was a bit peturbed that I hadn't retained that much of it at all! Part of me is somewhat relieved that they are all finished, so I don't have to read any more speculations about what was going to happen, and who was going to die. I guess I just don't get that obsessed about analysing books. I read 'em. I enjoy them. I move on.

On Sunday, Marc and I spontaneously went bike riding with some other BUG riders who we met up with about 10km from home. (Does organising it just the night before count as spontaneous?). We left the kids to sloth at home, and set off on our tandem. 36km each way, with lunch at a cafe.

On Sunday night, because I was reading Harry Potter, finally crawling into bed at 1am after not bothering to move from the dining room chair where I'd "picked it up to read for a few minutes"- seriously... I'm insane! - I forgot to wrap Alison's presents. A bit of angst there, snuggled up in bed. Do I get up and do it now, or get up early enough in the morning? I decided to risk the getting up bit, and even that worked out for me.

Planets and stars must have been in alignment for me these past couple of days.


* Jamie Oliver dessert suggestion from one of his TV shows: smashed Maltesers over icecream. Yum!

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Monday, July 23, 2007


That's Smart.

The first gift I ever gave Marc was a t-shirt with Maxwell Smart on it. Must have been a good choice to give the boyfriend of about 2 months ('can't be something too mushy or you'll scare them off - so pick something he's mildly obsessed about' reasoning - ) 22 years later he's still a fan, and has managed to show the girls an episode or two, and to use (and explain) a few of the catchphrases.

On the weekend he tells us that he has been given dvds of nearly every episode. "Ah, he says", nostalgically, "... that was the best show on television."

Quick as a flash, Ms 8 says: "Don't you mean the second best show on television.?!"

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Friday, July 20, 2007


What we miss doing when we're apart.




Side effects.

I found myself quite discombobulated at being pampered somewhat as I came to after the general anaesthetic. I'm not used to being looked after in that sort of way. Not that I'm not 'looked after' in every other way, but a soliticous bedside manner wasn't one of the many virtues that drew me to my Dearly Beloved. Good fortune has meant I haven't been sick that much in our married life, so he hasn't had much practice at the Florence Nightingale routine. He'll do what needs to be done to help, but I don't exactly get the forehead stroking and bedside attention. (And I suppose we don't exactly have a supply of heated blankets at home to tuck anyone up in!)

The lack of any mother/child role reversal in that department goes without saying, although to be fair, my youngest would probably make an effort if I looked particularly unwell. I mean, she runs to comfort me when the rest of them (Dad included) are stirring me up.

I thanked the nurse, and she smiled and said that as a mother she knew most mums didn't often get the chance to be fussed over. So she makes sure she does. Did I have even the tiniest bit of pain? - cramping? - here, here have some painkillers. Meh, didn't get to more than a 5/10... and basically (after they gave me painkillers) last night., the spot where the needle went in my wrist was the only thing that has given me any discomfort in any way! I will forgive the anaesthetist because he was French, and he could probably have just talked to me in French instead of giving me the pre-op woozy stuff that he told me was 'just like a gin and tonic'. (I told him I would have preferred a nice French wine, but next thing I knew I was waking up after it was all over.)

My doctor appeared briefly and hazily beside me as they were waking me up, saying 'everything went well'. We waited to see her afterwards, as was arranged, but she was caught up in surgery, so all I got was the message 'no polyps', and she'll talk to me on the phone today. That was a bit frustrating, as it meant we had waited for over an hour for no reason - when we could have been on the road. We didn't get home till nearly 8pm.. thank goodness for mobile phones - with the kids at home by themselves. I thought I had the continuing phone communications about dinner under control, but it is amazing how 'forgetful' a 14 yr old can be once she's had her own dinner. Mum and Dad's schnitzels put on the tray and put into oven when I made the call to do so? Oops. "I forgot." Gee thanks kid.

I realised as I sat on the lounge letting Marc cook our dinner, that I am not used to being waited on. Not saying I'm any paragon of domestic virtue, as you know, but I find it really hard to just sit and watch someone do what is normally 'my job'. Jobs will go undone, but I'm not good at sitting back and watching someone else do it. Especially when I don't feel especially sick.. I was just post-GA tired and vaguely wonky.

I slept ok, and this morning jumped up to iron uniforms, and yell a hundred times till Caitlin finally got up. (Standard morning procedure.) Alison woke up teary and with a sore throat, so I told her to stay in bed. Then I thought 'stuff it'. I had a general anaesthetic yesterday, I'm going back to bed. Caitlin can look after herself and I told Zoe to write herself out a lunch order - she really is capable of getting herself ready and off to school without me.

So Caitlin made the bus as always, goodness knows how she gets ready in half an hour (but I am sure I didn't hear her clean her teeth.) Zoe made her bus as well, but when Marc went downstairs, he found her lunch order on the bench. How typical - she writes it out, then leaves it behind, however she does that when I am up and supposedly on Mummy duty. Oh well, a chance for an infrequent Daddy-visit to the school to drop it off to her on his way to work.

Post op advice is no strenuous activity for 48 hours, which rules out my Saturday morning bikeriding insanity, but on the plus side I'm sure it also encompasses vacuuming. Two weeks of no other sort of activity of the type that one might have been looking forward to after their husband had been away for a week, but them's the breaks I guess.

The hospital discharge advice lists possible side effects of anaesthesia, which include dizziness, nausea, pain from the surgery, and more general muscle pain. I seem to have gotten away scot free on the first three, and I gave myself the last one anyway with my riding and weights on Wednesday.

Alison isn't too bad here; we are both having a slothful day (discounting the three loads of washing I've hung out). Till Zoe gets home and I have to take her to her tennis lesson (and pick up something for dinner.)

And till Cait gets home and I give her an invoice for $185 that I just discovered she has racked up on our phone bill! I went to pay the bill this morning and freaked at how much it was. Looked up the breakdown of calls and there were a heap of long and expensive calls to two mobile phone numbers. I rang the first one, but it was 'switched off'. The second one was answered by a teenage girl's voice. I tried asking 'who's that?', but wisely she suggested I had a wrong number.

"Hang on... are you a friend of Caitlin's?"

"Oh, yes, hang on I'll put her on." [obviously recess time at school]. Bingo.

"Caitlin? Hello. Yes, this is your mother."
I question her on the first number, and it turned out to be the same friend's old phone number.

"You've racked up nearly $200 worth of phone calls on our home phone! Hour long phone calls to a mobile number - what were you thinking? "

They come to more than half the total call costs on our home line - about $185. I don't know that we have specifically said 'don't make long calls to mobiles', but we have generally made an issue of avoiding calls from our landline to mobiles if possible. And never imagined when she rang her friend that it wasn't on her home phone number.

Any suggestions on an appropriate... consequence?

Looks like I'm straight back on Parenting Duty, at any rate.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007


And I also caught up with the washing up!

I had a few plans for today, and for once I actually carried through with all of them. It's not often I manage that. Not that any of it was OTT - but I'm pretty good at putting off things, particularly if it looks as if the day is going to be a bit chocka.

I rode with Zoe to school, then drove into town to the airport to pick Marc up, arriving back from his week away. As he'd not had a night flight, he felt obliged to go to the office, so after making sure I got a few kisses and hugs in, I dropped him off, and then headed to the shops hoping for some birthday shopping inspiration.(Alison's 12th on Monday.) Found a couple of things. Raced home, had a bite to eat.

And this is the thing I am proud of: I rode the 'back way' to my weights class. All by myself! [I did ring Marc at one point when I got to a fork in the road, and I wasn't 100% sure of which way to go!] 11km/42 mins. There were some hills. And more than half was dirt.

You could tell I'd missed 3 weeks of weights. :-/

I left just in time to make it back to school to meet Zoe to ride home with her. All decked out in my bike riding gear - felt like a dick at the school, but what the hell, it's what is comfortable to ride that far in. (You know those pockets in the back of cycling jerseys? - bloody handy!)

(So total = 22km. Hills and dirt remember!)

So, I'm a bit sore, and a bit weary.

Then another drive to town to take Cait to netball training, and to drop off a spare car key to Marc because some guy at work has 'misplaced' the key he left so they could move his car if necessary while he was away. Just glad I was coming into town anyway. A spin through the supermarket.

Dinner, and I've even caught up with the washing up. (Don't raise your eyebrows like that!!... I've always said I was a shocker with the domestics.)

Tomorrow I have the gyno procedure - a hysteroscopy (for a look-see, basically, make sure there's nothing untoward 'up there'). Worst part is having to get up a bit earlier to have a 'light breakfast' before 7. (And no water after 10.00) And the 2 ½ hour drive each way... well, Marc is driving me, but, yes, a bit tedious, especially after all our driving over the school holidays (and for him the fact that he's been on plane flights to KL and back in the past week as well...) And the cramps and bleeding afterwards, but, hey... At least I get to have a 'sleep'. (hah).

Arrgh, my legs are already sore! - and that's without the 2-day after syndrome combined with the after effects of having someone probing whatever it is they use up my nether regions.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I'm not a cat person but...

.. I make an exception for lolcats.

Favourite one tonight:

Link back. (to I can haz cheezburger.com)

[And I only ended up there again tonight because Magic Bellybutton had a bad day. I hope the lolcats cheered you up Magic!]



Just a bunny

I've had a surprisingly good start to the day.

No dramas getting kids up for school. All kids ready for school in heaps of time! (Anyone would think they'd had a boring week last week and couldn't wait to get there!)

I said to Zoe, "Do you want to ride?" and she said "Um, I don't know", and I could see us spiralling out of control into the 'Maybe Tomorrow' scenario, so I said "Right. Let's do it. I'll get your bike out." And I did! And we rode. Go us! Go me! Another "first" box to tick - Zoe riding her bike to school! And I didn't feel too bad for a 4.6km jaunt to start the day either.

According to Trace's Theory (the one about endorphins), these feelings of virtuosity over the whole Zoe/bike thing, PLUS awakening those exercise endorphins BEFORE getting on the computer SHOULD have me zipping all over the house today in a positive-minded, positive-action cleaning frenzy. Exercise Endorphins are the battery charge I need. I think. And OK, well, frenzy is probably a huge exaggeration. If I can achieve what normal people do on a daily basis without going on and on and on and on about it, it will be an achievement.

It has worked to a point. So far I've rediscovered the kitchen bench (under all the crap that incessantly hangs about all over it), unloaded and begun reloading the dishwasher, and I'm just about to hang the last load of washing to hang out. I'm psyching up to attack some area of the house - I probably should wage war on the dust bunnies (they are real! I've seen them! they are in my house!) - but I'm not sure how long I'll last before I have to go put myself on charge again. The danger is I'll spend so long agonising over what, where, how I should activate these endorphins, that I'll wind down ever so slowly, like those bunnies in the ads that don't use Duracell or Energizer (depending on which country you've seen the ads aired in!)

By 1.30 pm I've done a bit of vacuuming and, hey! I cleaned up the computer desk - which was so thick with dust it required vacuuming too. (My tired old comedic excuse 'I thought dust was a protective covering' just doesn't cut it, really) I tossed out a lot of crap that was lying around on it. Crap that even crossed Marc's desk-mess boundary; he had got to the point where he huffed and puffed and chucked things around in disgust if he ever had to get on this computer. He should notice. (If I can keep it this way till he gets home tomorrow.) He should even be mildly impressed.

I've also cleaned the inside of the microwave, and cleaned the leadlight windows on the front door and side panel. The door is still filthy, but at least the glass bit looks clean.

My biggest problem is that while I clean something, I only have to turn my head and I see a kazillion other things that need to be cleaned, sorted through, dejunked - to the point that it does my head in, and I feel like collapsing in a 'woe is me' heap.

Only an hour till I have to ride back to school to meet Zoe, so I had better get back to it. Haven't 'endorphinised' myself again yet.. I feel as if a 45 minute recharge will prevent me from achieving more - despite the fact that I've spent at least that long eating lunch and drinking a coffee while reading blogs. I need a logic rewiring.

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Today -or rather yesterday, as it's now 12.11pm, and yes, what the hell am I doing up this late when it's back to school in the morning? - the car was ready to be picked up from the mechanics after its little visit late last week. and I decided that I'd walk up to get it, despite the fact that they offer the usual courtesy pick up service. It's a 45 minute walk, so it actually serves very conveniently as my dose of exercise for the day.

I've done this sort of thing numerous times in the past, and it never ceases to surprise me that people (like the mechanic's office person, or varied friends) seem to think it's some sort of amazing feat or extreme exercise choice that I have made.

As it happens, you couldn't ask for better scenery for 25 minutes of the 45 minute walk - right up this beach here:

And today (I took this photo the other day) it wasn't even as crowded as this!! I'm serious!!

After 25 minutes, I do have to cut left and back up to the highway, and yes, it's a less pleasant 12 minutes up the highway with trucks and cars whizzing past at 80kph. But still!

If I went out for a 45 minute walk - as is recommended one does on a thrice weekly basis at least - noone really blinks. If I went to the gym for 45 minutes, people wouldn't think that was odd either. But because I could have got a free courtesy lift, people seem to think it is rather odd that I would take the walking option.

Why wouldn't you gain yourself 45 minutes of exercise (and thinking!) time if you are physically capable of doing so (and I guess have the time) than get driven (in most likely one's own car!) by some young assistant mechanic who is not much of a conversationalist!

I guess I'm just an anti-social exercise-addicted crazy.


Monday, July 16, 2007


I told you they drove me crazy

And every now and then I prove it. Or they prove it. Or both.

It's the last day of the holidays, and I'm trying to get them to shift their backsides, along with trying to come up with a new household regime to get them to contribute to the household chores, as well as to finish doing stuff I've been asking them to do for the past week or more. No easy task. They are very easily distracted. I mean, a few hours of watching Catherine Tate sketches on You Tube, and then, just to stir, perfecting the 'Am I bovvered? Face, no, bovvered? No. I AINT EVEN BOVVERED' line. It's Comic Relief around here.

So Zoe is finally trying on hand-me-down clothes that have been lying (for a few weeks) in a heap on a loungeroom chair. Within the space of a minute I guess I have either forgotten I even asked her, or I am just too used to my children not doing what I have asked them to do.

I'm here at the computer, and she comes up as if to ask me something. I turn.

"Zoe! Why are you STILL in your pyjama pants?!!!"

"Mum! - You told me to try on these clothes to see if they fit!"

"Oh... oops!"

A discussion then ensues as to whether said PJ pants fit. I mean they are just pyjamas, but maybe they're a bit long in the crotch. What size are they? Helpful biggest sister looks, and, seeing as she thinks she's a comedian, she says "Hmmm, they're Xtra, Xtra, Xtra Large"....

Zoe: " What?!!! That would fit Mum!"

Much hilarity from the other two.

Nice one kid. Thanks very much.

Looketh at my face. Looketh at my face. Is this a botherred face thou sees before thee?
Bite me alien children.

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Am I bovvered?

Linking on from the last post, and comments. This one's for Jebus, re the clip "that comedienne chick made for that comedy thing". I think he means Catherine Tate! and I think he means this clip for Comdey Relief:

My turn to be .. vague.. tell me, was that the real Tony Blair, or that 'comedy dude who does impersonations'?


Sunday, July 15, 2007


Doctor, Doctor!

Oh yes, we are fans of the new Dr Who. 'We' being particularly eldest daughter and me. And the other two. Somehow the Daddy hasn't really picked up on the series at all, but that's ok. I can ..um... appreciate... David Tennant in peace. David Tennant. *sighs* - He's 9 years younger than me.

Am I bovvered?

(I have nothing against younger men... I married one!)

I have no problem with that Scottish accent either!


[*cue 14 yr old daughter rolling her eyes...* She doesn't quite yet appreciate him in the same way I do!! Plus "ewwww" , you are my mother!!]

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Small things

The good thing about having to buy three different types of milk to accommodate the range of milk preferences in the household ?

It's easier to identify who left it out on the bench.
(And you can rule yourself out when it's not the 'no-fat'!!)


Saturday, July 14, 2007


I didn't clean today either.

But I got up at 5.15 am to go bike riding. Brownie points for my Exercise Badge anyway. Bonus ones because me getting up at that time off my own bat is still worthy of acknowledgement. I didn't have anyone to grumble to - so I didn't even grumble!

I only rode 24km in 'C' group, and even slower than I could have gone because I chose, after about half way, to bring up the rear to keep a slower rider friend (and a slower 10 yr old girl) company - and we lost the rest of the group. Aren't I nice. But still. It's my comeback - t's 24km better than nothing - and the endorphins are doing a bit of a jiggle.

In the afternoon I also rode around 6km up the beach and back with Zoe and her friend. (So that brings my total to 30k!) This is a crop of just Zoe, (for the sake of privacy and all that stuff...)

Why didn't I get round to having a friend of hers with a bike round to play earlier than this? (She just doesn't happen to have any mates with bikes who live in the same street.) But I now believe there is such a thing as positive peer pressure. "C'mon Zoe!!" Never seen her ride so fast on her own bike to keep up with her friend. She is still a bit 'clutzy' and ultra-cautious, but, wow... They rode to the shop and back by themselves. Then up the beach. (Then I bought them (us) an icecream, and left them to play in the park for a bit, and ride back themselves.)

Marc won't recognise her as the same child when he gets home. What a difference two days can make.

By contrast, the 14 yr old has been Inactive all day. I am a bit concerned that I may have to have her surgically pried from the computer keyboard - and against my better judgement I even went to bed before her last night because of wanting to go to bed earlier than my usual. It isn't a trend I particularly want to adopt, but I probably should choose my battles. It is still school holidays, but I had better nudge her back into a more sensible circadian rhythm by back to school time on Tuesday. I suppose by then she will be back into the netball... and she can afford a few Days of Sloth. I suppose this sloth thing is a teenagey thing to do, and I am risking being called for hypocrisy when it comes to spending an above average amount of time on a computer. It could be worse I suppose- we don't own any form of game station/x-box thingies; she spends much of her time creating graphic 'blends' for various online competitions.

At least she might end up earning money out of it one day. More chance with that than anything that might involve working out 24 hour time. Or cleaning!

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Friday, July 13, 2007


I suppose you're going to blog that Mum....

14 yr old to 8 yr old sister [whilst setting a timer recording on the dvd recorder]:
Hey Zoe, in 24 hour time, is 8 o'clock 20 .. umm... o'clock... ?

8 yr old sister [rolling eyes]: Yes Caitlin, that's right.



But worst of all 'young' mum you have industrial disease

Cleaning has never been a strong point with me. If you've managed to wade through more than a few of my blog posts you will certainly have picked that up by now. Right now, though, I am beyond the whingeing and whining stage. I am genuinely freaked out about myself.

Is there an Inability to Clean disease? Or more likely, is there a Cleaning gene? And if so, is there something defective with mine? Could it be one of those recessive gene manifestations, or is mine missing altogether?

I have always suspected there was something hereditary in it - my mother was never an obsessive housekeeper.. and my father is an accumulator of Stuff. (Bring on the nature/nurture debate - and anything else I can blame on my childhood!) But, no, she was never this bad. And as my sister is doing more than a fair job of keeping her house in shape it can't all be down to some deficiency in our upbringing. (She did marry a guy who I believe has classic OCD though, which may have had some impact.)

But, seriously. HELP! What is wrong with me? I can't clean. Well, I try, but my attempts are feeble. I am crap at it. I avoid it. And I'm getting worse. I am at the point where I am wondering if it is a genuine medical condition or disability - like adult onset diabetes. Or a symptom of some other sinister condition.

The biggest indicator that it might be a genetic thing is that through three pregnancies, I never ever got that 'nesting' thing that is generally accepted for mothers to have with the impending arrival of a baby. Never got it. Ever. I always felt a bit deficient somehow because of it, although my babies never seemed to have suffered unduly from my lack of obsessively spring cleaning the house whilst 39 weeks pregnant. (Except that now I can see genetics in action, as they all display similar symptoms.)

Yes, I feel sure I have always had it, but as a mild case, which has not really affected my ability to cope in every day life. Right now, however, I am having an acute attack which is manifesting itself in a paralysis to do with anything 'cleaning'. The state of the house is spiralling out of control here, and while I am fully aware of it, I feel incapable of acting upon it.

Perhaps it is an addiction (they can be genetic too can't they?) That is if there is such a thing as an addiction for not doing something.

My questions are,whether disease, or genetic condition: Is it treatable? Is there medication for it? Or perhaps a behavioural programme (a 12 step plan?).. ?? Whatever it is, I need help.

This afternoon: A very slow 6 km ride with Zoe, where I do believe we 'turned the corner' in regard to her bike riding confidence. We rode all the way to her school and back, as well as round the block here a couple of times. So now we have Plans!! To ride to school! And home again! I will ride with her, and meet her at the school gate at the end of school. Huzzah!!

The bike fits in the car, so no excuses for getting up nearly 4 hours earlier than I have been to ride in sub-10 degree temperature. It WILL feel great once I am there and riding.


Thursday, July 12, 2007


Ab Flab

It was high time I got back on track after limping around aimlessly in the Wilderness of Sloth there over the past couple of weeks. I can't say that the massage yesterday worked miracles (my back still felt quite niggly this morning) but perhaps it did help me to cross the line back into a state of mind where I could even consider getting my body back on a bike.

All morning, though, I was drawn, as usual, to the computer ... the internet ... blogs ... like some wretched, bedraggled moth to a light globe. I managed to ring the NRMA. They came. He took one look under the bonnet and pointed out that the fan belt had skewed off and sliced into the power steering reservoir, which - look! - was leaking everywhere. Hmmm. He shifted the belt back on, but it was Tow Time. Tow arrived an hour or so later.. and Dopey here handed him my whole clump of keys to move the car out onto the truck. House keys. Car keys (ie. cars - plural). Like I said. Dopey.

Ironically it was the senior moment that finally got me back on the bike. I debated whether to drive up and pick up my 'clump', or to ride my bike! I'm proud to say the ride won out. 9.77km better than nothing. And it felt good!

It's my official comeback!

It didn't cure my back - afterwards it just felt sore in a different way. (And then my knee niggled a bit, but I've decided if I just ignore that it might go away.) Later I lay down and did some stretches (which actually seem to have helped a bit), and then, while I was on the floor, I thought maybe I should do a few of my very basic ab exercises - the ones I have learnt in my weight/personal trainer sessions and which I should be doing every day but I don't because they are boring and niggly and difficult for one with ab flab like me...

.. Oh dear, yes, the old ab flab is the big challenge. I was reminded starkly of this when I was standing starkers (as one does) in the shower at my mother-in-law's last weekend, and it happened that you could get a very clear view of one's nekkid self in the vanity mirror. Very. Flabby. Abs. I would look a whole lot slimmer if not for the flabby abs. And unfortunately they are not something that will be affected particularly much by any amount of bike riding that I do.

I made some (more)resolutions about exercise in general, and abs in particular.

And seeing I can't help but blog, and I'm as unlikely to give that up as give up my glass or three of wine each night, I've decided to take a theme-type leaf out of some other blogs I enjoy, and add a footnote to my blog post each day, bragging listing what I manage to do by way of exercise each day.

Heaven knows I need to find some prompt, some reinforcement, to get on track and stay on track. The theory (according to Tracey) goes: When I manage to get those endorphins dancing, get fitter, feel fitter, lose some weight, (tone the abs), I will be in a frame of mind that will then enable me to confront and get a handle on all the other daily nemeses I have allowed to grow and fester around me.

Particularly the abs.

9.77km bike ride. Not that far, but a good way to ease back into it. Plan is to ride the 20+ km at the community ride on Saturday. As long as I can get the bike in the Landcruiser. And get up by myself at 5am!

Stroll up to shop, and back via beach with Zoe. Not strenuous, but at least it got her out of the house! Once she is out, she does stuff like running! (Pity I had to bribe her with an icecream.)

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Why is it so?

How come the only time my two oldest girls get on with each other is half an hour (to an hour) after I've started nagging them to go to bed? They get upstairs, and suddenly they are as thick as thieves. Often at my expense, finding some little thing about their mother to find hilarious - mimicking something I've said or done. (Tonight it was all about the goodnight "peck" they got instead of a loving embrace, because I was so cheesed off with them that they were taking (again) so long to go to bed!)

Sometimes one might even be found in the other's bedroom which has usually been declared off-limits to the other. For some reason, when avoiding bed, a ceasefire is declared, and they suddenly find themselves as allies instead of combatants.

The rest of the time these days, they are incapable of showing any form of sisterly-ness at all! Like, you'd never get them to stand, say, with their arms around each other for a photo. No 'see ya' hugs or kisses. No casual, matey, sisterly arms flung around each other. Not since... hmmm... well, I went looking for a photo, and this one from back in 2002 would be close to the last one there is of any voluntary 'arms round each other-ness' for a photo.

As I peruse the archives, it seems to me that over the years they both turned their sisterly devotions to their baby sister, who, in most photos, is conveniently wedged between them.

They are now getting less demonstrative with Zoe, who, at nearly 9, still wants that affection from them - and some nights has to chase them around the loungeroom for a goodnight kiss, as they duck and weave to avoid it.

I know it's nothing that I can change, but it doesn't stop me wondering about it all. (It's not as if we have strong 'familyness' genes that we have passed on to them - neither Marc nor I are particularly close to our siblings.)

I just discovered, though, that I had to go back a couple of years to find a photo of the three of them together. I wonder if it is just a fairly normal thing as one hits teenagehood, and the next one is a 'tweenager', or whether something has changed in the family dynamics.... (And I suppose photos don't tell the whole story either..)

In the meantime, I suppose I should be thankful that there are still times when they do get on. Even if it is at my expense. At night. When I want them to go to bloody bed!!

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Next step: muesli for dinner

The kids reckoned the (curried) scrambled eggs and bacon last night was yum, but were also tickled by the concept of having breakfast for dinner.

"So what are we having for breakfast tomorrow? Stir-fry?"


It is kind of tempting to stretch things just a bit more and have cereal for dinner tonight. I get into a rebellious mood when the Daddy is away- a mood which mainly manifests itself in putting off the cleaning even more so than I normally do, and opting for slacko meals. No, don't pin it on the patriarchy. I just figure that when he earns all the dosh for the household, the least I can do is provide a square meal most nights. Because, by reason of a fair division of labour, meals are my job. However, when he deserts us has to work away I feel like closing the kitchen and going on strike. Mostly my meal rebellion is easy heat-up-in-the-oven food but I'm becoming interested in expanding my horizons!

Earlier Caitlin talked me into buying sausages for curried sausages (one of their favourites), with the promise that she'd skin them, but she's not exactly jumping up to do so. There's a whole new blog post topic on 'where I've gone wrong in getting my children involved in sharing domestic chores', which is currently brewing (as it does most holidays) and which I shall leave for another day. Perhaps tomorrow, given the way it is playing loudly on my mind.

We had the Long Overdue dentist appointments this morning, and while noone had cavities (phew) , guess who had the worst plaque (and thereby was the Worst at cleaning.) If you have been reading my whingeings for long enough, you should have picked the eldest. The 14 YEAR OLD. Yes. That's right. Even this new dentist agreed that she couldn't have braces (as has been recommended) with the way she cleans her teeth at the moment. So, $130 to tell me what I already knew in terms of them not being up to scratch with their cleaning, and more appointments to come back to the hygienist for preventive fissure sealing of new molars. (And a lecture and lesson in better teeth cleaning for the teenager. I wonder what I have to do to get him to give her a right royal kick up the backside as well.)

While my children continued to sloth in the house this afternoon, I swanned off for a massage. And, given how tight my muscles are, I've decided to go back more often to see if it will make a difference. It's only money, huh.

Meanwhile a weird sound was emanating from under the bonnet of the Commodore, and upon investigating, even I was able to see that part of the fan belt was almost slipped off a wheel. I will have to call the NRMA (automotive association) in the morning to see if they can slip it back on, and then I will have to book it in to be fixed. Why did it have to do this as soon as my Resident Mechanic slipped out of the country for a week? (Just lucky we have a spare car hanging around at the moment.)

Well, amazingly enough the Eldest has been shamed into skinning sausages, so I guess I will have to forgo the muesli for tonight! Shame that. I was finding the concept of Slacko Mummy kind of .... appealing.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


97% Guilt-Free

Which, like the fat-free claims, leaves you with 3% pure and unadulterated guilt. I'm talking the guilt of a mother who feels like she and her children should be doing something more something in this second (of two) week of the school holidays.

This week, however, is not shaping up to be very interesting at all.
The 97% of reason tells me that:

So - what the hell. We just watched Torchwood (Episode 4) from last night. And I'm about to leave them watching the final in this series of Life on Mars which I have already seen. (Bring on Series 2 - I want a resolution!!) We might even just watch more tv or dvds tonight. Dinner? - with no Dad, we might just have something less 'balanced' and do something easy like scrambled eggs and bacon!

Miraculously this morning I could walk on my foot. Go figure. So bizarre. Unlike my poor husband who has had a few airport transits to make today - two extra than normal with a Sydney-Adelaide-Singapore-KL trip this time. And you don't realise just how much walking is involved in airports until you are incapacitated in some way. (Fortunately for him it is a temporary thing.)

Off to the chiropractor for me... surely with that, and a massage, I'll be back to myself and I can concentrate on that 3%.

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Monday, July 09, 2007


Laurel and Hardy

It's a slapstick double act here tonight at any rate. We are both hobbling around - both with sore left feet. Marc's is a bonafide 'touch' injury tonight - running backwards (as you do in touch) and tripping over a teammate and twisting his ankle. Bad timing for going away for work tomorrow.

Me? I did absolutely nothing to mine, but as stupid as that sounds, it is still agony to walk on nonetheless. Somewhere around dinner time my left foot started hurting. Weird.. But I've had this sort of thing happen before with my feet, and it has ended up being related to my back/hips... and the chiro has eventually sorted me out. This time it is sore along the outside of my foot - side and bottom. Putting pressure on my foot to walk is agony- and even just sitting with my feet up it throbs. It's bearable if I walk on my toes on that foot.

I think it is all the more frustrating because I didn't actually do anything to it. And I feel pretty silly - almost as if I'm attention-seeking because he is hurt - though for the record I told him on the phone that my foot was really sore before he told me what he'd done to himself.

So picture both of us here tonight doing the *limpety limp - hoppity hop* -it looks just bloody ridiculous when we are both trying to get around.




Back home. Back to washing. Back to kids slothing. Back to kids making mess.

And my back is sore, which doesn't make for a happy-go-lucky Tracey in the second week of the school hols.

I do look forward to holidays, and getting a break from the usual madness of the school/after-school routines. But car travel, and not being in your own bed, has the potential to throw me right out of whack - literally - and right now I am pondering the "cost" of these school holidays to my physical (and therefore mental) wellbeing!! (I am better off riding a tandem 500km, and sleeping on a camping inflatable mat!)

I guess my Back just does not like it when I stop doing any of my usual exercise for a few days. I've had a pretty good few months with it, but what I've done (and not done) in the past week and a half is a really bad way to treat an 'Iffy' Back. Great idea to sit in a car for hours (drinking coke and eating chips or chocolate - that's good for the weight loss, did you know?), and then go and sleep in 'other' beds that just don't help. NOT. Meh, it is not excruciatingly bad, but it's a nagging ache; I am thusly not feeling very much like doing anything, and I am fully aware of the 'vicious circle' syndrome coming in to play: Not doing any exercise because my back hurts. Back hurts because I'm not doing any exercise. Repeat.

My chiropractor visit last Thursday didn't seem to help much. (Hah! And so then I went and slept in a crappy bed for another 2 nights! - The spare bed at my MIL's isn't the best - the bed slopes to the outside, and so I had to resort to sleeping with a pillow wedged under me on that side!) So I am going to try a massage on Wednesday in the hope that that might get me back on track. Right now, even though it might do me some good, the thought of getting on a bike makes me cringe - and Wednesday seems like a long while away.

But we did see dolphins!

And Zoe, despite denying having missed me, spent most of the one hour each way ferry trips sooking up for cuddles.

And we spent some time with Nana - Marc doing some odd jobs for her around her townhouse as well as the ferry trip.


Friday, July 06, 2007


On the road again.

All too short. *le sigh* Back in the car this arvo - picking up Marc from work about 3.00 - and we're heading 2/3 of the way back to Sydney (about 4 hours this time) to his Mum's at Tea Gardens. We are being reunited with the sprogs tomorrow - my Mum is driving them the two hours up from Sydney.

We could have driven down tomorrow ourselves, but we figured it would be nice to spend some time with Marc's mum - plus this way we can go out for dinner with her, and then sleep in a bit!

Weather permitting on Sunday we might catch the ferry across Port Stephens to Nelson Bay. While I am in dire need of doing something much more active (my back has been niggling all week - a direct result of lack of exercise, 'other' beds, and too much standing around) we are limited by how far Nana can walk, and the idea is to spend the time with Nana. But! We might see dolphins!

We will drive back late on Sunday. Which has just reminded me that I need to make up the kids' beds so they can fall into them when we arrive home after dinner.

And then, huzzah! A week of school hols with kids. They don't know it yet but I have a couple of wonderful treats in store for them. A trip to the dentist!! Woo hoo! And, for Cait, an immunisation that she should have received at school 2 years ago, but THE SCHOOL FAILED IN THEIR DUTY TO LOCATE HER EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS IN THE LIBRARY WHERE SHE WAS MEANT TO BE INSTEAD OF DOING CHRISTIAN STUDIES AS PER MY AUTHORISATION, AND CAN'T YOU TELL I'M NOT DIRTY ABOUT IT AT ALL... HMMMPH. [And if I'd known when it was happening the following year she could have got in line with the Year 7s, but 2 years on, the health department won't do catch ups at the school clinics....]

And now it seems Marc will have to go to KL on Tuesday for a week, and of course I am not happy - it feels like the 'never, ever GST' - although of course it is unfair to draw a direct analogy, because the 'no more overseas work' deal is actually a bit more complex than that, what with colleagues being affected by it, and.. well... yeah...

So, what must be must be, at least until this specific project is finished. (All bets are off after this project is over, however... Says me. With so much bargaining power.....)

A week is .. ok. I can deal with a week.

He will be back in time to take me to another gyno day surgery (to make sure all is ok) thingy - on the 19th. How romantic.

If nothing else, it is just reinforcement for my continuing to be the SAHM, because the logistics (re the kids) otherwise would be quite difficult when you don't actually know from one week to the other whether he'll be around.

Pffft. I can feel a few sleep-ins coming on.


PS. I haven't ridden a bike in 2 weeks... and we haven't even test ridden the new tandem. Which is still in the house. Not good.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007


I could get used to this.

I'm calling it practice for retirement. (The fact that I need to get a job first before I can officially retire is neither here nor there). These few days of the first week of school holidays have been practice for 'empty nest' time, and I confess I am enjoying it.

It doesn't happen much that we are minus many of our kids at one time. The grandparental backup on both sides is several hundred kilometres away. Paternal side is not really able to look after children anymore, for health reasons. Maternal side grandparents have had them stay occasionally, but is unwilling to have them while we go off for more than a night or two on anything that resembles enjoyment. (So now you know why we drag the kids off on 9 day bike rides!!) The kids have stayed a week when we have had to do something "important" to do in regard to moving house - but let's just say we are unlikely to get an offer to have the kids while we swan off on some overseas holiday.

So, we enjoy what we can when we can. This past weekend, the netball rep rules had the girls travelling on the team bus to the competition - so last Friday we had the luxury of travelling 6 hours down the highway with ONE CHILD in the back of the car. Oh the bliss! No fights. No whingeing. And she enjoyed it as much as we did. "How are you enjoying being an only child, Zoe?" "GREAT!" she said.

We stopped off to visit Nana on the way down - a quick detour and lunch with her in a cafe. We decided after that to make another detour - this time into Newcastle to see the stranded bulk carrier, the Pasha Bulker that had grounded on one of Newcastle's main surf beaches in the wild storms a few weeks ago. Nana had heard that it was now hard to see - with an exclusion zone of a few blocks, and supposedly parking being impossible. Never ones to believe the panic, we decided it was worth a go. We snagged a car space 3 cars back from the exclusion zone, and it was an easy walk up the headland to a poor vantage point, and then, on the advice of another spectator, only another few hundred metres back down to the ocean baths, where you got a good view of this enormous ship "parked" in the breakers.

Zoe later told Grandma that it was a "long walk" - which Grandma was inclined to believe (because she thinks we expect too much much of our kids.) I pointed out to Zoe that it was less distance than the 2.5km cross country course that she runs (without stopping or walking) in about 15 minutes. So perhaps she should have run it!!!

They successfully refloated it the other night, so it was a worthwhile side-jaunt.

The next morning we headed off down to the netball, with NO KIDS! Grandma was happy to have Zoe to spoil for a few days. (The alternative for Zoe was having to watch 3 days of netball, which wouldn't have been ok for her in Grandma's book. Fine with me! We got a couple of nights there in the holiday house where we could come in, crash on the lounge with beer and chips, and not have to worry about anyone else but us. More significantly, we only had to get ourselves up and ready in the morning. Bliss!)

Grandma does get torn between wanting to see her grandchildren and not letting us go off and have a good time without them. With Marc having to be back at work, she was ok about keeping all three for a few more days. I opted to return home with him, and the deal was struck that they would drive the kids up to Nana's on Saturday. (Good excuse there not being room in the car for me, huh!)

So, we have a house to ourselves.! For three days!! The novelty of not having to nag kids to bed will never, ever, wear off, let me tell you. And although Marc is working, and has a late touch game tonight, I don't mind having all those hours to myself. The TV to myself. Ahhh... bliss! I am heading into town for a chiro appointment now - and we are going to meet up for lunch.

Don't get me wrong. I love my kids!! But, gee it's nice to have a break!!

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


What a weekend!

Never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined that the first ever rep netball team our new little association has sent to State Age would punch above their weight, and come through as Winners of Division 3. It's pretty hard to explain the enormity of it, ... but trust me... it is HUGE. And pretty damned exciting - even if it ruins my 'cred' with my daughter, because I'd given her THE speech (after some tears at one of the lead up carnivals when they lost more then half their games) You know, the speech along the lines of 'It isn't just about winning." I also added: " And you can't expect to win like Cait did with Coffs two years ago.. even that was unbelievable, and Woopi is a small, new association, with an extremely small pool of players to select from. If you win half the games that would be a fantastic achievement... And there will be teams who don't win any games! Anything you win is a bonus!'

*Rasberries to you, then, mum!* (Yep, I'm chewing on those words still! As is Marc who two years ago said how sad it was that Alison wouldn't get the chance to experience the same 'high' as Cait, when Woopi split from Coffs and decided to put in its own rep team. I mean.. what chance did such a tiny association have?!)

So, this competition runs for 3 days - and netball teams in four age divisions (12s, 13s, 14s, 15s) from all over the state play a round robin competition in 3 Divisions, based on the size of their association (and past performance). Championship Division has pretty much just teams from the big metropolitan areas (obviously they have a huge pool of players to select from.) Division 2 and 3 are from the smaller cities and towns. Each division in each age has around 23-25 teams in it, so over the 3 days the girls play over 20 games of netball (each one being 2 x 11 minute halves), pretty much on a one game on, one game off basis. Full on! 50 courts going at once (plus about four indoor ones that the 15s got to play on.

And so winning even Division 3 is pretty big talk for a tiny, new netball association - especially when people would ask "Where is Woolgoolga? I've never heard of it." (Add to that the fact that locally Woolgoolga gets called 'Woopi' - so we call ourselves Woopi Netball - and we were really putting the town on the map and educating people!)

Really, all we hoped was that this team might win half their games. That would have been an achievement. The first day, well... they just kept winning! Wow! The second day they only dropped one, and drew one! By then they were equal leaders, and the pressure was on. They could actually win this if they kept their heads and kept playing well. With a smart coach who had already ensured that she'd fulfilled the 30% rule (each player must get 30% of games) by the end of the second day, she was able to put in her best team against the tougher teams.. The girls held their nerve and only lost one more.. while the team that had been their equal leaders overnight fell apart.

That's my girl with the ball. She plays Centre, which means she gets the run of the whole court except the goal circles.. The coach played her all bar 1 and a half games... Alison is like the Duracell/Energizer Bunny - she just keeps running and running... usually running her counterpart Centre ragged....

To add to the general exhaustion of the weekend, the weather the first two days was bloody freezing - with a chilling wind whipping in from the south-west (ie. snow country!) As spectators we were rugged up with polar fleece tops, fleece lined jackets, beanies, scarves, and we weren't hot! You can imagine how it must have been for the girls - particularly those like ours who are from warmer climates, and with little experience playing in the wind.

And meanwhile, amidst the building excitement with the Woopi 12s, we were walking back and forth to watch Cait's team play in Division 2. She plays for Coffs - the association Woolgoolga split from - who 2 years ago, when she was in the 12s (and with the same coach Ali has now) won Division 3 u/12s! Of course their courts were rarely anywhere near each other, so we did a lot of hiking back and forth - sometimes watching together and swapping courts at half time, and sometimes separating and swapping with each other at half time. Of course they were rostered on the same time slot.. I suppose we can just be thankful that this year Division 2 and 3 were at the same complex.

This is Cait playing WA - Wing Attack. She's a good (not so) little (anymore) mid-court player.. We didn't manage to fluke as many decent shots of her... Their team came a fairly creditable 9th in their division.

Now, given that I am not and have never been a netballer, you won't get much more out of me by way of explanation of it all ('thank god' they say) ... Despite having watched a hell of a lot of netball over the past few years, there's still a lot of the game I don't understand!! Probably never will - I don't have a team sport mind like my husband does. My passion for it is with the passion my daughters have for it, and as long as they are enjoying themselves I am happy. I had Alison hopping up and down the night before they left, saying "I'm excited" - and so she was, all the way through (I kept checking!) despite the blisters, despite the early starts, and the horrible playing conditions the first two days. She's been just itching to be there playing ever since she watched Cait do it 2 years ago. And while winning isn't everything, and I will always remind her of that, it is a very tasty icing indeed!

And, oh, I have more to tell you about our weekend away.. but I have kind of sworn that these few kid free days will be full of housework that won't get undone like it usually does at 3.30 when they traipse in from school. Believe it or not, I have another mountain of washing to do - though the weather is not looking too kind!! Back to my reality...


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