Sunday, September 30, 2007


True Confessions

Late this afternoon I started asking Ms 14 to help me with dinner. She accused me of trailing off with my sentence, which she finds frustrating. Seems I do it a lot. She is probably right - I think I do do that. Something I have to work on. I told her that when she is at the computer I sense she isn't actually listening, so I tend to sort of give up. (When I don't yell that is!)

She says: "Oh I do hear you. I just ignore you in the hope that I'll get away with staying here longer... "


You'll keep kiddo.


On a similar theme, a couple of days ago she was talking again about her improved maths result, because since then she has come home with a Merit Certificate for "Effort in Mathematics" (which her father and I promptly "claimed" because we are the ones who made all the 'effort'.)

She babbles: "And I was talking to my friend about how on earth I got that because I hate Maths and I don't work at it, and my friend said "I reckon... but just imagine what you could do if you actually tried!"... and I said "Shut up, you sound like my parents."

Hope she sticks around that friend. She sounds like a sensible girl!

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Saturday, September 29, 2007


"Mad buggers"

...To quote my swimming squad instructor on Friday - when I skipped a few laps here and there told him I was just a bit tired after having just ridden (on the tandem) 92km. (After 53 km the day before... and we only finished that ride at about 4.00pm, and I was in the pool for my class only 90 minutes later, for some reasons feeling a lack of power in my legs!)

* [Photo nicked from here]

What did you do that for? he asked.

Training. We're doing a 100 mile ride next weekend, I tell him.

Mad buggers! he said.

He's probably right. Especially seeing we followed that up with another 70 something k's this morning with our ride into town for the community ride. Strangely enough I wasn't at my best riding in this morning. (Starting at 20 to 6!) And my bum. Is. Sore. A bit bruised. And a lot rashy. Eep.

Mad buggers. Indeed. Yesterday at one point I did go through a bit of a 'Why am I doing this again?' phase. And wondered why I'd agreed to ride one hundred and sixty kilometres in one day.

Who knows. Something to do with the challenge, and sense of achievement. (And being able to stuff your face full of anything you can lay your hands on! (We ate lunch out at a cafe... hell of a way to get a meal out with your husband!) And the enjoyment of doing it in tandem (heh!) with him as well. Yes, I know you don't believe me.... but there are 15 of us mad buggers attempting the 100 mile ride, so we are not alone in our insanity.

We are enjoying our cycling related social life. It was Bike Week this week, and on Tuesday I helped the BUG (Bicycle User Group) with a school (on the other side of town) doing a 20km ride along the bike path to the Jetty park and back. On Thursday night we went to a free (sponsored) screening of The Flying Scotsman at a local cinema. We didn't recognise half the other local cyclists there, all dressed in 'civvies' instead of the usual lycra!


We are mad in other areas of our life too, being members of the 'visitor-induced-mad-house-cleanup club'. Yesterday we found out that Marc's sister and family were going to call in on their way through. This afternoon. (They live 4 hours away.) Said sister is a clean freak, and despite the fact that I really shouldn't care what she thinks of me/us because we don't go out of our way to socialise.. (so to speak)... one can't help but look at the state of your house, and freak out at the thought of anybody seeing it. So we have had a bit of a cleanup this afternoon - a bit of a 'whip around', as I've heard it put. Wow... so much better. Even if it would still look messy to someone else's eyes, it's 100% on what it was, even if there's a lot more to be done. A good way to start the school holidays. If only I could keep us all on top of it.

(And then said sister rang and postponed till tomorrow!)

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Greener grass, browner toast, but scary as a Dalek.

My daughter's friend apparently told her grandmother (who she lives with) that she wishes she was more laidback. "Like Tracey is." Apparently I'm 'cool' because my house is a mess and nothing seems to faze me. (Poor Grandma. Apparently she is more the 'clean freak' type. Who knew that having a clean and tidy house was not something to be admired...) The grass is always greener, of course.. or as this same kid said this afternoon. "How come your toast tastes better than our toast?" So we've coined a new phrase - "The toast is always browner..."

Given that I tend to feel embarrassed about the kids' friends coming round to my dirty, messy house, it hasn't done my self esteem any harm. Heaven knows, much of the time I don't feel like I'm getting anything right....

For example:
Last week said self esteem did take a bit of a battering when said daughter was telling me about a 'Bio Poem' they had to write at school. Bio as in biographical. (Or auto-biographical to be more precise.) She told me they had to include stuff like their favourite things, and things they feared. And up there with Daleks on that latter list was "Mum when she's angry."


Apparently when I get cross, and yell, and bang things around and stomp up the stairs, it's scary. Though given she was telling me this with her arms wrapped around me, and the fact that she was telling me at all, I rationalised that maybe, perhaps, hopefully, she isn't really scarred for life. (And I can't be that bad, if her best mate is of the opinion that I'm laidback... Can I?)

I still needed some saving grace though, and so I asked her who was scarier when mad - me or Dad. "Oh Dad, definitely" she said without a second's hesitation.

I quite relished recounting that bit to him later. Not that it puts either of us in the running for any parenting awards...

I'm also pretty crap today because, according to Ms 14, there was nothing to eat in the house when she got home from school. Only stuff that 'tasted like cardboard'. There were crispbreads. (Lo-fat.... yep, I suppose that's like cardboard.) But there was toast! Good toast, even, so I'm told.

Hmmm... Obviously my kids don't know which side their "toast" is buttered on.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007


Double or nothing.

We just about doubled our ride distance in two days - 82 km this morning! - by riding into town from home and back, with the community ride in between. So all we need to do is double it again for the 100 mile ride in two weeks time! Easy.

You probably think we're mad aiming to do a 160km ride in one day (160.934 km to be precise), and you'd probably be right. But you know, apart from the challenge/tick the box aspect, there is one really, really super good reason to flog yourself silly in the exercise department:


I find myself today researching the best hi-energy/hi carb foods to take 'on board' before and during the ride. All in all that's a lot more fun than researching what not to take on board in the interests of burning more energy than you take in (in order to lose weight!)

For this one day, the focus is going to be on consuming enough kilojoules so you don't run out of energy... Or in cycling terms, so you don't "bonk". (Or 'hit the wall'.) This is a new term I learnt today - I'm still on my L plates with this cycling business, and it can be a bit confusing at times. I mean, when I grew up, bonking had a whole other meaning. (And it's safe to say that one of those I want to avoid, and the other not necessarily so...)

But in other words, I can eat, eat, eat and not feel guilty!

After 82 km today I was feeling quite desperate for an energy hit, and all day since I've been prowling around the kitchen looking for a 'hit'. The bowl of cereal at 5.15 am, and the bacon and egg roll 3 hours later (and after about 55km) was patently a bit light on. (A lesson to be learned for the 100miler). I had a cheese and bacon toasted multigrain sandwich when we first got home.. and then the urge to cook pancakes hit me along with a decline in the weather situation. (It started raining around lunchtime!) Something about rainy days and me deciding to cook up treats in the kitchen...

An hour and a bit later my stomach is rumbling again! And it's raining and thundery.. and it's cold! (What happened to Spring?!! ) My muscles are starting to stiffen up, and I'm yawning my head off. (Yes, totally mad getting up at 5 am!).

I think I need more coffee. And I need MORE FOOD!

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Friday, September 21, 2007


Don't you know ANYTHING?

My mate, Misc Mum, was today poetically lamenting her woes in regard to Facebook.

Given that's one area of the internet I haven't as yet explored, I turned to my resident internet expert, the 14 year old, Ms Cait, and asked:

"So have you got a Facebook thingy?"

She looked at me in exasperation, and slowly and carefully answered me, enunciating her words clearly so there'd be no risk of confusion. (Much like you'd speak to someone with, say, dementia...)

"I have MySpace. Facebook is for OLD people."

(So does that make your day Misc Mum?)


[Edited to add: ]

And then she said "I knew you'd blog that!"


Thursday, September 20, 2007


.. and we're wearing sunglasses.

It's only 2 and a bit weeks till the 100 mile bike ride. My back is behaving. He's taken a half day off work. It's spring ....... and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it.

(with apologies to The Blues Brothers - not quite the same ring is it...)

We did. We hit the road - back on our tandem again after our brief hiatus; off down the highway for a training ride. Short knicks again, and sunscreen required for a warmish day that was heading into the high 20s. (C). We clocked up 42 km including a 5km steady climb, but it was all good. I'd even go so far as to say the exercise has helped my back.

I don't think we'd lost as much form as we thought we might have, but we took it easy. We're being cautious with my back - plus Marc's missed a couple of weeks of riding because of his work trip (and his social life last weekend.) At any rate, we won't be approaching a 160km-in-one-day ride at a frantic pace, so all we need to do is build up time on the saddle. That's the theory anyway. Marc's got another day and a half owed to him (Time Off In Lieu) between now and the end of the month, so we'll hopefully do this again twice next week.

After the frustrations of that stupid niggly back pain (albeit mild in the scheme of things) I'm starting to feel a renewed surge of energy which I hope I'll manage to channel into more than just bike riding. A spot of spring cleaning? Perhaps. I've managed to come up with decent meals every night this week, and even if noone else has noticed, I'm quite pleased with myself in that regard. I've been more on top of the kitchen mess, and I'm starting to nudge at other household 'issues'.

Swimming again tomorrow night, and bike riding both days on the weekend - tied up with official Bike Week activities. We are torn between leaving the girls in bed on Saturday morning, and chalking up close to a 90km return ride on our tandem, or doing the family thing now that they have no netball, and doing a shorter ride with them on the triplet and tandem. The Community Ride on Saturday will finish up at the Bunker Cartoon Gallery for a sneak preview of the Rotary Cartoon Awards exhibition, and we are feeling that we should be dragging the kids along for a dose of contemporary culture. The eldest two are reasonable 'with it' with social satire and humour, so they would probably enjoy it....

... that's if we haven't strangled them between now and then - having just sprung them still buggerising around upstairs two hours after they were sent to bed!!

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Monday, September 17, 2007


Back on track...

... I think.

On Friday I turned the corner (says she, full of cliches..) in terms of my back. A much relieved and happier girl visited the chiropractor, who gave the go-ahead for swimming that night (without kicking hard), and bike riding on the weekend. I swam and felt good. And I got up at 5 am and went to the community ride with my mountain bike. I rode in the slower group, and felt good after that too. Yay!

I walked around the shops with kids on Saturday afternoon (in between car shuttles to drop people off and pick them up at various places around town) which probably didn't help. And Sunday I sat/stood for over an hour at a concert in which Alison was playing recorder - which I'm sure didn't help!

Saturday night I got this weird pain in my chest. To the left. But I don't think it's my heart. I wondered if it was what I imagine indigestion (as 'heartburn') to be, but as it's still vaguely there, I don't think it's that. So, I don't know what it is - Marc thinks it sounds like a pulled muscle. How I would have pulled a muscle there I don't know. Just one more for the list of niggly things I'm running through. Got to try everything it seems. It has gradually eased, much like a pulled muscle, so I will go with that theory unless it gets worse, at which point, yes, I would take myself off to the doctors.

On Saturday I finally visited Ali's friend's mother in hospital. I hadn't met her before - she lives in ICU. Permanently. She has some type of muscle wasting condition, and has a tracheotomy, attached to tubes to breathe; talking comes out as not much more than a whisper, which requires something like 80% lip reading and a lot of concentration. Apparently I did really well - much better than most at picking up what she was saying! I was blown away by her courage and cheerfulness, in the face of a life which is only made worthwhile by the joy, pride and love she has in her daughter. I intend to visit her again - without the girls so we can talk about them like mothers normally do! It was, though, a sobering reality check. We do so need those from time to time to help us put our own lives in perspective.

I have spent today sorting out minutes and paperwork for the netball AGM tonight. In the search for the rough notes from the AGM from nearly a year ago, I have half filled the recycle bin with waste paper - so at least it has achieved something positive. I was just about to switch from an unusually calm and collected (for me) 'Meh - it'll turn up' approach to a frantic, ranting tearing-my-hair out lunatic when I finally found what I was looking for... Phew. That only took about 3 hours! As I get all that typed up and printed and filed I am feeling that heavy weight (the one called "I'm pissed off with being Secretary") starting to lift from my shoulders. When I finally do get to hand it over to my successor, I'll be floating on air!

And who knows, that might be a good thing for my back.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007


She's got The Look

Gotta love it when you get that Look from your teenager.


Friday, September 14, 2007


Turning the corner

Yesterday and last night I got a bit weirdly shivery, and thought 'uh-oh'... not flu-type stuff again! Please, no, not on top of the back stuff! I also would have killed for a massage because all the muscles in my back seemed to be jangling and my head hurt. But my massage lady is away, so instead I made do with painkillers. One dose got me through taking the kids into the shops after school for a few things they needed. I took another couple after dinner when I went all weird again, and then I curled up under the dooner up in bed while I watched Marc iron his stuff to go down to Sydney for a school reunion. Quite amazing how well the panadol and codeine worked, really; after an hour snuggled up in bed, and rejoicing in gradually feeling cosy and warm again, I was ok to get back up and finish up in the kitchen. (Because of course the kids wouldn't think to help out!)

After a night of the weirdest, weirdest dreams, I woke with a headache, but also with my back feeling significantly better - both muscle-wise, and with the spinal nerve stuff that made bending such freak-out material. I hope that means I'm over the worst, and can be back on track over the next few days. As previous posts show, I've not been very patient about it! If indeed I have turned the corner already, then I am really very lucky.

I had been putting off hemming some new pants Marc bought for himself, but the deadline finally arrived with this reunion tonight. I had built up the whole exercise in my mind - totally and absolutely out of proportion, which seems to be my M.O. of late. My god, as if hemming a pair of pants is that hard! My sewing table and sewing machine are a mess, and covered in dust, and I had it in my head that doing anything of a sewing nature was going to be a herculean task. Even this morning I rang and postponed my 11.15 chiropractor appointment so I 'had more time'.

Finished by 9.30... I am such a drama queen.


Thursday, September 13, 2007


And then I suggested she walk naked through the school...

Well, no, but you'd have thought I just did.
I'm just that sort of Mum. Suggesting incredulously ridiculous things.

[8am, yesterday, 15 mins before Ms 14 has to catch the bus to school]:
"Mum, mum, can you sign my sport choice form for next term. It's due in today."

[wondering why this wasn't brought out last night]:
"Basketball again? Why don't you try something different?... like.... there's Surf Awareness. (Run by a guy who is the President of the Surf Lifesaving club, and who also is our swim coach. So I think she'd learn something. ) Umm.. or what about trying yoga? "

"Are you out of your mind? Like, I hated Nippers when I did it..."

"... Yes, but this would be another way of picking up a bit more surf knowledge without having to do all the nipper stuff that you hated."

" OH MY GOD, Mum... They do THEORY and stuff... Why would I want to do that? I'm supposed to look forward to Wednesday afternoon sport, not dread it."

[Mum ponders whether school sport is meant for just stuffing around or....]

"And YOGA? I can't believe you think I should do YOGA! Oh my GOD!... [turning to sisters].. She thinks I should try YOGA?!!!"

[Grasping at straws] "Well, if you don't want to use this as an opportunity to try different stuff, don't expect me to pay for you to do iceskating in Term 4, which I know you will want to do.."

[She grabs sheet and slams out the door muttering that I only have to sign it if the sport involves a cost.
This morning she presents the sheet muttering that I still do have to sign it. As a concession she's put Yoga in at Preference #4, knowing full well that she'll get First preference, basketball, anyway. I give up and just sign the damn thing.]

I've thus had a day of pondering my parenting- in regard to this issue, and still have no answers. I mean, do you just go along with whatever the little darling wants, or do you have a duty, as a parent, to try and encourage them to think beyond their own little world? To look outside the square, to branch out and try new things? Where do you draw the line of toughness on it? If you just meekly make a suggestion, you may as well not make it at all, because the initial reaction will always be 'You're a moron Mum.'

We (Marc and I) are also pondering our instinctive reaction to her maths. After that last saga, where I finally threw my hands up and stopped nagging her to study (in a 'lead the horse to water, can't make it drink' fashion), she has come home with vastly improved test results lsat week, placing SECOND in the class with the major part of the test. (Gaining something like 85%). Pending some more results from kids who did the test later, and the results of the 'non-calculator' section of the test. Still the teacher gave her a Commendation Ticket for it. So she is all 'Go me!' Woot! I am a legend!' And, being terrible parents, we are pleased but gobsmacked, and actually quite disillusioned. Because we all but had to chain her to the table to revise. So she didn't do her best. She did what we dragged her kicking and screaming to do. And, if she can improve that much by that method, how much could she improve if she actually sat down, voluntarily, and revised and studied like a normal student is expected to do!

So she accused me of never being satisfied, and she has a point. Thing is, we only want her to do her best.. that's all. It's just that wasn't actually her best.

It is also a terrible indictment on the school she attends - that their second placed maths student in Year 9 is actually not that good. Because, no! she is not that good at maths! In many ways she can be quite dumb at maths! And dumb would be ok IF she tried her best, and that was the best she could give. But we still haven't seen her give it her best.

So as a parent, do you have a responsibility to keep chipping away, against the odds, to try to help your kids be all that they can be? To try things. To take school seriously. Even the sport opportunities. To venture outside their comfort zone. Or do you just throw up your hands, and let them do whatever they think they want, even if that is below par for what you think they are capable of.

Where do you draw the line? You might know in your heart (from your own experience) that academic achievement is not the be all and end all. That there is the risk of burning out by the end of Year 12.. and then what? (Exhibit A - me)

Talking with each other last night we admitted that both of us were 'hard markers'. He is definitely so - to the point where I avoid raising dealing with stuff that I need or want his advice on, because I don't want him to chuck a wobbly. But, while I am tending to total slackness in many areas, here I am being a hard taskmaster on my daughter.

I guess finding the middle road somewhere in there is the goal. I just wish I had a map and directions.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Who knew one sat so much ...

This trying to either stand or get horizontal is really quite tedious. And that's coming from a supreme procrastinator who is quite good at not being 'active' around the house. What's really frustrating about it is that I don't have an 'in your face' pain thing that automatically disencourages me to sit. So I can't help but sit .. a little bit.. every now and then...(like now - sshhh - don't tell anyone...) There is a discomfort factor, but I'm basically going nuts with the alternatives.

I lay around watching tv and a dvd all day, and I actually got really bored with it. Which is quite fascinating, as the idea of being able to lounge around, guilt-free, watching telly all day would, to many people, be quite appealing. (Probably all that says about me is that I'm just more hooked on the internet.)

But trying to get horizontal on the lounge, but still watch the tv, isn't totally comfortable either... I've probably done things now to other parts of my spine. So I've also spent some time standing around. In the front garden. Watching the birds. Looking at the house from the outside. In the kitchen. Till that drove me nuts too.

I never realised how much you sit around in the normal course of a day. At the computer. At the table to eat. Whenever you want to eat or drink anything.... either at the table, or sitting upright on the lounge. (Lucky we have recliner chairs in our lounge, so I've been using that feature, figuring that it's not as bad as sitting upright......)

I appreciate the kind suggestions to get a housekeeper, but, you know, I'm totally not bad enough to warrant one.. never mind the fact that I would absolutely loathe having someone else in my house. (Gah... I so couldn't cope with that!) I can walk around.. pain free really. I'm quite functional in most respects, except that the bending/sitting thing does niggle. (And if I bend recklessly, then I know about it.) Then just add to that the guilt compontent because you've been advised not to sit, so if you do sit you know you're likely doing something that is contrary to the goal of getting your back better. (But seriously, when you wake up after being horizontal all night and your back hurts, it's a bit hard to be totally committed.)

Marc got home this afternoon.. which is good - very good - except that he's outrageously tired, and has finally collapsed on the lounge (and so I am anticipating that his snoring tonight is going to drive me nuts!! Welcome home darling.)

I lined up the girls to prepare tacos for dinner, figuring that was something they could pretty much do. They did most of it.. though again I say God help the 14 year old! - No commonsense. Noone who has had as many tacos as she has in the past AND who has commonsense would cut up the tomatoes in huge chunks like she did. *le sigh*. I suppose we all have our 'blonde' moments - me no exception - but I do worry about the girl. (I also had to point out to her today that when you hang clothes on the line they will actually dry better if you un-scrunch them - and pull sleeves out that have got all tucked in, etc. *double le sigh*) I don't know if it's lack of commonsense, or just sheer laziness.

[My ultimate goal with the children is that they will become thinking, caring and contributing members of the household. Where they will have the ability to notice what needs to be done, and then get in and do it. Like - ooh, it's late afternoon. Clothes still on line. Will go bring them in. So far (and this is highlighted when I'm unwell, or slightly incapacitated as now) they're not really 'getting it'. We still have a long way to go... I suppose someone will tell me that I am fighting typical child/teenager egocentricity...)

Anyway... yeah.. just here to whinge.. and I've gone overtime with an illicit and undoubtedly ill-advised 'sit'.

Time to wake the boy and go up to bed to get horizontal.


Monday, September 10, 2007


".. and no vacuuming ok"

Should have been music to my ears. Only problem was the medical advice came with "you really need to be lying down flat as much as possible.. avoid sitting... is Marc home? No..* Well when he gets home he needs to do stuff for you."

Yeah, right.

Stupid back. Stupid whatever I did to cause the inflammation between the discs in my spine, or whatever...

And if lying down was so beneficial, I shouldn't wake up with my back hurting, should I?

However I have done my best to lie on the lounge as much as possible, and am already going stir crazy with it.

It's pretty hard to sit and eat dinner - or to drink anything - whilst not sitting.
It's pretty hard not to do stuff, even when you're the world's worst housekeeper.

I shouldn't even be sitting here typing this.

Better go. To bed. To lie down. Some more. For no perceivable improvement.

* His work trip was extended by two days.. he's home tomorrow, but he tells me his back is sore from being thrown around on very bumpy boat ride (zodiac type I gather) across the ocean.. skipping waves, bump, bump, bump kind of thing. Terrific. We have shocking timing when it comes to this sort of stuff...



I had dinner made for me last night!

Creamy ham, broccoli and mushroom pasta courtesy of my 12 year old, who picked out the recipe back when I made a resolution to have them starting to cook. Unlike the 14 year old who was dragged reluctantly into the kitchen when it was her turn (she chose fried rice, but had to have me hovering over her and doing a lot of it for her.)

Alison, however, was enthusiastic about the idea from the start, and has had that recipe earmarked for two weeks. I don't think that I've ever even made that one before either, so she was totally just following a recipe. (Which is pretty much the way I've got through my cooking life!)

So here we have one 12 year old who is streets ahead of her supposedly equally smart 2 yrs older sibling. She pretty much did the whole thing herself. Yes, she asked questions and advice, but I basically sat here at the computer, and only had to jump up and help a couple of times. I was so chuffed.

I was also pretty impressed that she chose a recipe with broccoli in it! And mushrooms. She's not even fond of mushrooms, but decided that (as her Dad and I have always said, they add flavour when cooked with other ingredients.) She used her chef's perogative to not put in as many as the recipe said, and I assured her that that was totally acceptable.

Ms 14 sat there and picked out the broccoli and mushroom. (Given she's still unwell with a sore throat I ignored it this time, but sheesh!)

I suppose you can't make kids be enthusiastic about cooking, but I'm already slightly peturbed that Ms Eldest here will be 20 something and incapable of making herself a healthy meal!

I still need to work on the cleaning up bit afterwards.

"Darling, you have no idea how wonderful it was to have someone else cook diner."

"Yes I do, I get that every other night."

"Not quite the same thing kiddo. Talk to me when you make the meal every other night!"

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Sunday, September 09, 2007


Now this does get up my nose about America...

Apart from George Bush and his cronies, and their immoral and illegal war, and many more issues I have with the related US politics and religious fundamentalism and evangelism and creationism ... I am not actually anti-Yank. Pinky promise. I am capable of separating organisations, media and government from the individual. Ok, I may have been heard to utter the 'only in America' line once or twice. But actually, my recent foray into blog reading has been really refreshing as I 'get to know' individual Americans. Many of whom are way cool, and also intelligent and funny and clever, and hey! we have stuff like our parenting ups and downs in common too! Also America is tandem-central as far as bike parts, and the actual tandems themselves, so the country certainly ain't all bad!

I do resist the Americanisation of our language and idiom (and especially spelling). I can't help it, I'm guess I'm a bit old school Aussie, and I fiercely defend the Aussie character that, like it or not, grew out of British colonisation. I have tended to avoid the saturation of American tv in my life partly because I have always avoided watching the commercial tv stations. They tend to broadcast a far greater percentage of American television than the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) and I have grown up feasting on great British comedy and drama programmes. Rightly or wrongly my preference is thus for British shows.... I prefer the sense of humour, and there tends to be something special about British actors. I confess that more recently I've picked up on a few more American shows that I do enjoy. (Just a shame they are mostly shown on commercial telly, so I have to put up with the frigging ads.) Of course we also grew up with some of the great made in the US classics. (I've already mentioned my husband's addiction to Get Smart.)

Frankly, though, there are a lot more crappy American shows than British shows that make it on to our screens, so it tends to skew my perception somewhat. But anyway, you can't blame Americans for selling whatever shows they make to anyone who will buy them. Our bad that we do so indiscriminately!

What really does insult my sensibilities though is the American penchant for remaking English speaking shows. Particularly all these classic British shows! And there are many. What the? And WHY?

I first became aware of this back in my childhood when I realised that the classic British comedy Stepford and Son was remade as Sanford and Son, and Man about the House became Three's Company. And I was highly irritated by it back then. On principle really. I couldn't understand the need for it. If I, in Australia, could enjoy (and understand) a particular British show, how come the Yanks couldn't? It's not like it was in a foreign language!

I am currently on my high horse about it, however, because the American remake of The Office is now being promoted on Australian TV. (If the kids didn't manipulate me and switch stations, I'd still be in my blissful ABC/BBC commercial free ignorance.) But therein lies my real objection. If Americans are so incapable of 'getting' British humour and culture, then, whatever. Their loss, really, if 'they' want to be so insular, though truly it is not a good 'look' on the world stage. [Note: this is not a personal attack on individual Americans, because I know they have as much influence about what gets shown on TV there as I have here! ] But when this recycled Americanised version is then peddled to Australia, and the bloody TV networks buy it and show it, when we have already seen the original, and stupid (Australian) people watch it, then, yes, it does piss me right off!!

As I checked out the list on that wikipedia article, I became more and more incensed. There were even more than I realised! All these classic British shows - being remade. Americanised. Americanized. Thank heavens, as it turns out, not many have actually been shown here, but it is still total, total blasphemy! In no particular order, these are just a few of the classics I've watched over my lifetime, and I can't believe that they have been remade in America. (with varying levels of success it seems.)

Coupling. Red Dwarf. This Life. Fawlty Towers! (Are you kidding me?!) The IT Crowd. The Vicar of Dibley. Porridge. George and Mildred. Love Thy Neighbour. Dad's Army. Cracker. Life on Mars!

(I haven't linked them here, but they are linked on that Wikipedia page.)

Don't get me wrong. I do understand the need to localise game shows, reality shows, and comedy formats that rely on local topical subject matter. (If I never saw another reality show in my life it wouldn't be too soon, but that's another subject altogether.) But it's the essence of dramas and comedies - where they are set - the characters - that are what works for them. Transfer them across to another culture and they surely lose the quality that makes the show what it was in the first place. Imagine doing a British remake of, say, Get Smart? Gilligan's Island? More recent stuff like X-Files?

I was relieved to see that this trend.. habit.. is at least noted and criticised within America. Well, I found one article on page one of my Google search. But seriously, America! Is it little wonder that the rest of the world thinks "America" is too self-centred when they remake shows that are in the same language?!!

As for Australian shows (like Kath and Kim) being remade - well.. it irks as well, but sadly it is more expected. Other than Crocodile Dundee, and that guy who said Crikey a lot and wrestled crocodiles (what is it about crocodiles?) it seems that Americans are not very good at understanding the Aussie accent, never mind Aussie humour. (It's nice to see that now Aussies can actually be cast in American shows as Australians - eg. whatshisname in House - that's good, that's improvement!) It would be nice to think that they could expand their horizons to bring an Aussie sitcom, totally as is, into their homes, and through watching, begin to gain a greater understanding of that country and its people, because it is through comedy, and through a people's ability to send themselves up, that you can sometimes gain a truer insight than any other way!

Why it is apparently possible for us to already do so in reverse I am not really sure.



The insidious addiction.

There is much concern in society about the health risks of drugs; even the legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco are blamed for their addictive properties, and the range of health risks involved. Those who seek altered states of consciousness through extreme sports are also criticised for the risks they take, and for ignoring the impact of their escapism addiction on their families.

I am here to tell you that there is another insidious addiction rampaging through our society. Less life threatening, but an addiction no less. I know. I am a victim.

This addiction actually is a health risk for those who can't control their usage. Sleep deprivation may seem trite as the prime health concern, but the latest research is ranking chronic sleep deprivation as a health risk up there with alcohol! Continuous uncontrolled participation can also have a dysfunctional impact on families, impinging on social interaction, and the normal functioning of a household. Especially if you're the mum.

What is even worse is that society exhorts us to partake in this activity! Parents are bombarded by material from teachers railing at us to get our children to do this. And to do it often!

What is this dangerous activity? It's reading!! I am a reading addict. I am a read-a-holic. There. I've said it. I have no control over my reading! When I get engrossed in a book time means nothing and family means nothing. I get sucked into an altered state of consciousness - an alternate reality. It's lights on, nobody home. "Muuum. Muuuum!" [no reply] "Hellooo! Oy!" .... "Huh?" I have no self control and no sense of self or family responsibility when it comes to the urge to keep reading. And reading. And reading. I have been known to attempt to cook a meal while reading at the same time. Hmmm.

So I know I have this inability to control myself, and so I limit my consumption of reading material - much like someone on a conscience kick resolves to limit their alcohol intake. Every now and then, though, I get hold of a good book, and watch out. Reformed a-holic on a bender. During the week I picked up the last of the latest Robin Hobb trilogy . To be honest it was a bit slow moving for the first half to two-thirds (plus it was so long since I read Book 2, I couldn't remember all the plot so far), so for a few days there it was easy enough to pick up and put down and still function fairly normally.

Not so the last third; I thought I'd read for, say, half an hour when I got into bed last night. Late as that was at after midnight (which happens when you are already mucking around with your sleep patterns by doing lots of late nights midweek - for no discernible reason - then doing the 10am sleep in on Saturday morning.)

Cue here 'moron' mode- where an otherwise reasonably intelligent woman gives herself sleep deprivation. Having done the no-choice lack of sleep thing after having three babies, it's not real bright to do it to yourself deliberately, especially when you are running close to the edge psychologically.

I finished the damn thing at 4am, and then took another hour to drop off due to my brain running riot reviewing parts of the plot and the great ending, and pondering how to introduce some sort of sportsmanship award at netball next year (my god woman, let it go!), and a periodic pulse of pain emanating from my back. There is also nothing like stressing yourself out about not being able to fall asleep when you start hearing the birds twittering with the break of day.

Lucky we had nothing planned for the day, and I managed to sleep till 11.00. That still amounted to only 6 hours sleep, which for me, at the moment, is just not enough. It also doesn't leave much time on a Sunday to do anything worthwhile with the day.

Now my children have inherited my reading addiction . Sure, it makes for looking good at school (except that I refuse to keep tabs on everything they read just for the sake of turning it into a OCD list-a-thon/reward programme.) Most nights we catch at least one of the older two still reading - sometimes at midnight. Zoe will read for hours on end, sometimes walking home from the bus stop and in the front door with her nose in a book. (Lucky she has no major roads to cross.) We hear stuff about how children and teenagers are not getting enough sleep to function properly during the day... and here are my children inheriting this insidious addiction. From me.

I know many of you will tell me it's all harmless, and that the benefits outweigh the ill-effects. I'm just not so sure anymore, because I can't seem to control it. Given I can't manage myself with my computer use.. and I find it hard to not have a 'drink' every night..and drink way too much instant coffee in a day, I probably do have a mild addictive personality. Who would have thought I would seriously have to include such a wholesome pursuit as reading as one of its manifestations.


Saturday, September 08, 2007


Here's to good sports and free Saturdays.

At last! The official end of the netball season, with the Presentation held today. And until about March next year I will have my Saturdays back, hip hip hooray and hallelujah!

I have two girls to be very proud of - one whose team won their grand final (in a boilover!), and the other whose team came runners up (and who got close to another boilover!). (Not that I'm not proud of my youngest - she just didn't play competition netball this year, and so wasn't involved in the presentation today.) Ali received the Most Valuable Player award for her rep team from her performance at State Age, and Caitlin received the Players' Player award for her Intermediate team. Which makes this mum very proud and just a little bit teary! I know I do a fair bit of whingeing about my kids, but the truth is I really do appreciate what wonderful girls I have. Sure they have their moments, and I know I can be their harshest critic. The big secret is I'm actually also their biggest fan. I just try most of the time not to be one of those parents who babbles on ad nauseum about how wonderful their children are. Thankfully most of the rubbish happens at home, and I know that "out there" they are liked and appreciated for being great kids - Heck, I've even had a number of compliments about them recently!

And hence, I am proud.

Even more than them happening to be good at netball, I am really chuffed with their sportsmanship. They play "nice". They play fair. (Given that, during this week, I've been composing tearful blog posts in my head along the lines of 'Why Can't They Just Be Nice To Each Other?!!', I'm very relieved that the Not-Niceness that tends to rear its ugly head most often among siblings seems to stay within the home; somewhere along the line we've done something right. They've been 'brung' up to be good sports, and out "there" at least they are good sports.)

This sportsmanship thing has been highlighted even more recently at the netball by the behaviour of one girl in particular. Ali has, this year both played with, and against her. At state age a number of we parents were embarrassed that our daughters were on the same team as her. At club level, particularly when our kids' team overcame the odds and beat this other girl's team (for the first time in the season) in the Grand Final, we held her up as an example of how not to play (and lose your rag.) Her parents don't fully realise what a monster they have, in part, created (because she has been allowed to develop into one).. It has tainted what would have otherwise been a totally brilliant year for the netball association, and because this kid is the daughter of the president, it has been one more issue I have with staying on the netball committee...

It is the AGM next week, and apart from having to get my act together with the minutes, I'll have to sort out the mess of correspondence etc because I intend to hand over the secretarial reins. I figure I'll still handle the website that I do, and any other computer-y stuff. People keep telling me I'm the computer whiz, and thank goodness they have me to do all that stuff. (I just wish I could figure out how to get paid for this supposed expertise!!) I'm just more than over meetings, and letter writing. And getting stuck in the clubhouse canteen week after week. Mostly that last one - which is why I'm doing such a happy dance about getting my Saturdays back.

Theoretically speaking today I had, at least, Saturday morning free. Free to go bike riding without having to hurry home; I mean, even though Marc is away, I have a single road bike, and I am quite capable of getting my bike on the roof of the car, and driving myself into town to the Community Ride. But I blew it. I had my bike ready to go, and cycling clobber laid out and ready. I got up at 5 am. I looked out the window, saw that while it wasn't raining, it was windy. ("Aww, diddums!"). And my back was sore, and I couldn't face trying to lift the bike onto the roof rack, never mind riding into the wind. So I got back into bed, and got up again at 10am!!! I then felt disappointed in myself the rest of the day for not pushing myself through my mental barrier. If Marc had been home I would have shamed myself into it, and then felt good about myself.

Next Saturday he will be away again, so I will try to redeem myself. Another chiro visit will be in order to try and sort out my back, and then all I'll have to do is work on my head!

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007


It's raining again.

That's the forecast for the rest of the week. And today was also Windy with showers. It was actually colder during the day than it was during last night! Go figure.

So winter isn't done with us yet. And stupid me didn't Seize the Day yesterday. Yesterday with its balmy spring weather of 26 degrees! Bewdiful weather! OK, a couple of loads of washing on the line. That's it. Shoulda, shoulda, shoulda gone for a ride. Didn't.

Today was your classic miserable, rainy, windy wintery day. So I did your classic, miserable, rainy wintery day thing, and sat inside and watched videos all day. Episode after episode of House. (Which doesn't make you laugh out loud, but you do the odd smirk.)

How lazy is that. Statement.

One of the things that I know improves my state of mind is exercise, so it is pretty bloody stupid when I don't get out there and do any. My only excuse this week, other than sheer lethargy, is that my lower back is a bit niggly still; the perfect excuse for a housework procrastinator. Over the weekend I took Voltaren, which was bloody brilliant. I did my swimming on Friday night, and we rode 50 odd km on Saturday morning, and it didn't hurt. I suppose I could have taken one today so I could vacuum, but funnily enough the drive to do that just wasn't there. I can't decide whether I should rest it till it gets better, or to soldier on through it. It's not bad, but it's just there. Pinched nerve sort of thing, rather than muscular. Frustrating. So I don't know whether to go to the weights class tomorrow or not. It's indoor, and it's exercise. But it's what aggravated my back last week. Bleh.

One of the other things that seems to have improved my state of mind of late is the Evening Primrose Oil capsules. And I've just realised I've been forgetting to take them for a few days now. Perhaps I should take some advice from last post's comments and start getting some Omega-3 into myself as well. It's supposed to help brain function isn't it? - perhaps that is what I need, because lately I just can't focus. I should just cook some damned salmon, but when you have one family member that doesn't eat fish (Caitlin) and another that isn't keen on tinned fish (Marc), it's not a meal ingredient that gets served up much, because I'm damned if I'm going to cook more than one meal per night for the family.

How lazy is that.

Yeah, so it's raining again.

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Monday, September 03, 2007


Still looking for my happy place.

To be completely honest, I'm wallowing. And no, it's not a good look, but I'm in a phase where I just can't quite locate my 'happy place'. I am living one of those frustrating dreams where you can't quite make things happen the way you want them to. Just 'frustrating dream' status, rather than 'nightmare', so I should be quite thankful really. But I'm not in a happy place.

I'm mostly unhappy because Marc is away for work all this week. He left early this morning for Perth. Across the other side of the country - so it may as well be the other side of the world. Back Sunday - so that messes with the weekend, and it's the weekend toll that has taken its... toll... over the years. Over the 10 bloody years he's been working in this damn job, I hate to think of how many weekends have been 'stolen' from our family life.

After our crisis in March, and the ultimatum put to his work about having to stop the away work, or leave, he has been home most weekends (all bar one I think) and what a difference that has made. But there you go: "All bar one". There has had to be compromise - a midweek trip back to KL, and a 'one week trip' back to KL. I ran with these because even I realise it is pretty hard to pull out in the middle of a humungous project, and I am such an understanding, wonderful wife that he is lucky to have even though he lost sight of that there at one point. There have also been a couple of other mid-week jobs which involved being away - but midweek stuff I can cope with; the type of job it is means it is impossible not to travel to various jobs.

But this week is another compromise; someone else's project, and the other person who could do it is on 5 weeks annual leave and I'm pissed off and angry about having to compromise, because I feel like I'm being played for a fool. I made some ultimatums, because I damn well had a right to make ultimatums. But like WorkChoices, my 'fought for' rights are insidiously being whittled away...

Yes, it has been better. [Who am I kidding? - It has been fantastic.] And the thing is, I like it like this. Having hubby... Daddy... around... is normal. It's what normal people do. You get to do things together on the weekend.. even if it is just slothing around on a Sunday (which I think is ok if you've got up at 5 am to go ride your tandem together on a Saturday morning, and then spent the rest of that day with the girls' netball.)

Sometimes, now that the girls are old enough to be at home without us, we can do stuff like we did yesterday. We left them and went into the shops, because he needed my physical presence/moral support while he shopped for some jeans and a shirt. And so then, that achieved, we sat down in a cafe and had lunch. Out. Very nice.

Meh, so what right do I have to complain? My life has been, and still is, too easy in many ways. I haven't had to work. I haven't had to worry about money. Single parents do it waaaaay tougher. Most average families do it tougher - financially at least. Still, I'd recommend it to noone - not that many days, nights, weekends of the Daddy being away. Basically raising the kids (the eldest was 4, and the youngest not even born when all this away stuff started) half the time by yourself, but then having to switch back to 'normal' family mode when he gets home.

I always maintained that while he worked away, I was damned if I was going to try and juggle a job as well. He used to hassle me occasionally about getting a job (partly because he understood that my self-esteem actually needs a job; partly because I think he has found it a strain being the breadwinner.) He only admitted in March that it would have been too stressful for me to have been working all this time. (Logic tells you that he would have had to have taken on some of the home-load.)

But as the 'stay at home parent', anything that the kids don't do that you expect they should (or that he expects they should) you blame yourself for. Because you're the one with the frontline job of handling all that, and any failure feels like a failure on your part. Throw into that mix me being the crappiest housekeeper in the world, and I keep seeing "F" on my report card, rather than all the Distinctions and Credits - because people do commend our children for being 'lovely kids'. (And smart. And good at sport. And good friends. Etc etc.)

I just keep seeing the negatives. I see myself as being a failure, because I don't work, and what's more, I don't have a clue what I could do for work. (To fit in with 'being there' for the kids the way I want to be.) Look at all those mothers who are working AND their kids are nice kids, doing well at school, etc, etc!! And, yes, I hate the fact that I don't bring any money into the house. Big F for Failure.

I try my hand at volunteer work, with the school.. with the netball... and then I get the shits with it (usually one or two people start getting right up my nose), so then I pull this avoidance stunt with it, as I did over this weekend. On Saturday I refused to go into the netball clubhouse as I've felt obliged to do all year because I am secretary. I sat on my arse in a chair on the sidelines, and watched both girls play their grand final games. And I felt guilty. And then I didn't go to the senior presentation dinner.

And, then... the most trivial issues with the kids make me feel like I am failing them with the basics - and if I can't get the basics right, how am I going to handle any Serious Stuff that comes along down the track? The eldest yesterday, when charged with hanging the load of washing in the machine on the line when it finished, hung them out dripping (which I only discovered at 5pm when I went to get them in). Because, patently, I wrongly expected that by 14 years old she'd have absorbed, somewhere along the line, that washing, when the machine has finished is not dripping wet. Because it spins the water out. And she has hung out washing before this. And that lately I've had to keep going in to rebalance the load because there is something wrong with the balance mechanism on the washing machine. The machine goes *bang, bang, bang* and stops. Then beeps. And I curse, and I go in and shift clothes around, and start it again. And sometimes repeat that till it works. And I haven't actually stood her there and given her a lesson in getting clothes out of the washing machine, because I had credited her with more common sense than she evidently has. (And an ability to ring me up on the phone and ask what to do if she isn't sure.)

[And it's pretty hard for me to be teaching them any household domestics, because I am a really, really bad role model in that respect.]

And, the 12 year old has been mutilating herself, and I have been oblivious to it. We thought she was biting her fingernails.. have lectured and warned her about it... and finally this week I bought some of that foul tasting stuff to put on her nails. Then yesterday she stubbed her big toe, and we realised that she has somehow been mutilating her toenails... she has cut/ripped them back so far, that the surrounding skin on each toe is peeling, and on her big toe, with so much skin exposed, it is more vulnerable to stubbing. She can't explain what in god's name possessed her to do this, nor how exactly she did it. She used scissors, "once".. "about two weeks ago"... but wtf?!! I am freaked out that she must have some underlying psychological problem that is causing her to do this, and I don't know what the hell to do about it.

And now he's gone away for a week, which makes it hard to do the shared parenting thing- particularly over this trivial stuff.

So the way I handle it is to rebel with the household domestics (who has the psychological problem do you think?)... and wallow.

Perhaps now I've unloaded this piffle I can get up off my bum and get through the week with a more appropriate outlook. Any kicks up the backside as long as they are gentle, will be gratefully received and taken on board.

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