Friday, February 29, 2008


Just working on a few more grey hairs...

Nothing drastic - it's just been a bit of a manic mum week, with events on Wednesday reflecting the essence of the 'crazy' in crazytrace.

So I'm going to regale you with said events- particularly seeing that you won't interrupt while I do so in order to tell me what I SHOULD have done. And should not have done - Does your other half do that to you? Interrupt when you're telling him about something that happened? Well, mine does, and I think that is sending me more crazy than the events in themselves... Even Caitlin told him that it wasn't one of those computer game where you could choose the outcome. This had already happened. It was PAST TENSE! Not that she is any better. All my family have a habit of interrupting me to tell me I'm taking too long to tell a story. I know brevity is not my strong point, but they cause me to prolong the story by a factor of ten, and then use it as proof that I take a long time to tell a story.

And they wonder why I have my own blog. (At least I can't see you wander off when I get long-winded!)

Anyway. This is my story.

School swimming carnival time of year is enough to send most parents slightly bonkers anyway. - unless you're the professional swimming parent type who revels in it all. (Which I am not.) I am, however, in my seventh year, at least, of my kids winning through one or two (or three) more levels after the school swimming carnival purely on the back of a one hour swimming squad once a week. (As you end up at higher levels you see the parents with stop watches, and PBs committed to memory... I am not one of those!)

So, Monday this week was the primary school District carnival - comprising up to a dozen local schools I suppose. I don't know if our region is special or what, but it seems to have an extra level that other public schools in the state don't have. They skip straight to "Zone", while we have a District carnival for swimming, and cross country and athletics too. Then Zone. Then Regional. Then State. (One year Cait's junior relay team got through to State.)

Whatever. For some reason our school doesn't see fit to take the kids who have come 1, 2 or 3 in their respective races in on a bus to District or above - for the swimming it's private transport all the rest of the way, baby - and the teachers that come from the school sit at District doing some particular job and aren't available to organise and marshal the kids. It's up to the hapless parents to make sure their kids are sorted. (And to volunteer as timekeepers, which I've stopped doing in the name of looking after my girl instead, but that's another guilt trip altogether!)

Monday's District carnival ran ultra slowly - new organisers I gather - and results (no finals, just based on times) were painfully slow in being processed and posted. I was doing tag team with the Daddy around 12.30 so that I could go to my usual Monday swimming squad. (He is sweet like that, didn't want me to miss my class...)

Zoe had a few earlier races, and was in the junior girls relay (about the second last event). They thought they came in third, he said, but not only was that unclear, the organisers couldn't even say up to how many places went through to the next level anyway. Was it the first two, or the first three? Noone seemed to be sure. Problem was, Zone was only two days away! They would let the schools know the next day.

In hindsight I wish I'd stayed at the bloody pool so that I could have communicated with the parents of the other swimmers in the relay team.

The daddy and I did crazy tag team some more that day, meeting half way (10km mark) between home and town after my swimming squad to shuttle Zoe and a friend home. (And then I drove back into town an hour later to take Cait and netball teammate to rep training, and hung around for 2 hours to bring them back at 6.30... yes, I am trying not to think about my carbon emission imprint, footprint, or whatever it's called....)

On Tuesday the school didn't even find out if the relay team had to swim till after lunch. I rang them, and seeing that Zoe wasn't through in any other races, I told the office staff: "I will pick Zoe up from school before 12.00 and take her in. There is no point her hanging around a carnival all morning doing nothing. Could you please let people know this. Whoever needs to know, could you let them know."

I figured I'd been to enough Zone carnivals by now to know that even though they are usually better run than the District ones, there is no way, when they start at 9.30, that they'd be up to the relays by 12.00. Getting her there by 12.00 should be ample time.

So on Wednesday I went ahead and organised myself a morning bike ride with a friend who was down from another town 2 hours away... We did a 30 km bike ride, I got changed in the car, and shuttled back up to the school at 11.45.

As I arrived at school office the office manager meets me outside. 'Hurry, hurry - the other parents have just rung, they are in a panic, they are just about to start the medleys, then it's the relays.'

**** !!!

So I broke the speed limit driving to town (we're talking 15-20 min drive here) while Zoe got changed (under the seat belt) in the back seat... How could I have got it so wrong?! Please, nooooo, don't let me be the slacko parent who lets the relay team down. I have been in that other situation where it turned out that a breakdown in communication at the school end meant that one or two from the relay team didn't even know they were supposed to turn up. I know I was pretty cheesed off that day.)

At a set of lights in town I keyed in the school no. on my mobile, then, given the illegality of talking on mobile phones whilst driving, handed it to Zoe, and told her to ask the office lady to ring the parent at the pool and tell her we were nearly there. Just around the corner. I knew if I was that other parent I'd be spewing, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Whoever Zoe spoke to got her confused and what she heard was that we'd missed it. The relays had been run.

She cried. I cried. (And swore a lot.) How mortified was I to be a parent who would cause a team to forfeit? (And feeling SO bad about the cause being me going for a bike ride! )

And how could I have got it so wrong?! - I'd based my estimation on quite a few years experience of primary Zone carnivals!!!

I'd been going to drop Zoe off at the pool entry, let her bolt in, and I'd catch up after I'd found somewhere to park. But she was crying (which, Marc, is why I didn't throw her out of the car then) so we slowly drove a bit further, and luckily jagged a parking spot. I rang school again to get the phone no. of the other parent so I could ring to apologise. (Yes, I was feeling a bit chicken about facing them.)

I find out we're not late after all. Zoe has misheard. More expletives! I race Zoe across the road to the pool just as we hear an announcement that they are going to have a HALF HOUR BREAK before the medleys, which are the event before the relays!!!!

So we were nowhere near late.

And we probably waited more than an hour before their race. (They came 6th out of 12... and so they didn't get through to the next level. Thank god, really!)

I guess you have to learn from such events. All the 'shoulda's'.

I shoulda have remembered that if they were running that early they would in all likelihood take a lunch break. And so not panicked.

I shoulda talked to the office lady myself and not created a chinese whispers scenario putting Zoe on the phone.

The school shoulda had a teacher or parent in charge, with a list of swimmers, and memos such as "Zoe's mum will bring her in by lunchtime." And in all likelihood said teacher would have known me from our years at the school, and known that I am the reliable type.

Another parent already at the pool who knew the two relay team parents were worried shoulda known that Zoe's mum has done lots of swimming carnivals with her older sisters and isn't the sort not to turn up. (Except that said mother is more interested in the kids who do surf club....and we don't.)

Given I can't control what the school will do with staffing, I shoulda got the phone no's of the other parents and rung them the night before AND given them my number.

The swimming carnival run is thus over for Zoe for this year, but Alison is off to Regional for high school. Next Thursday. In a town nearly 2 hours drive away. Can't wait for that one. At least she is in a few races, but these include a few relays.

Meanwhile, the kids are working on giving me more grey hairs still this week. I had to drop Alison at school early today for recorder practice, and we are nearly 3km into the drive (and already running a bit late) when I ask the stupid, naggy Mum question: "You've got your recorder and all that don't you?"...

She clasps her hand over her mouth with an "oh no!"... and I think at first she is having me on.


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Sunday, February 24, 2008


Been there, done that, got the t-shirt

I did it! That 2000m swim. That's 2 whole kilometres you know!

(So I did buy myself a t-shirt!)

I came in something like 257 out of 293. Please note that it was a mixed field! Mixed in gender, and mixed in approach. Some treat it as a race, many just go in it for the challenge.

The times will be put up on their website sometime, so I'll check it for interest's sake. Just to see how much slower I am than the fast people. (And how much quicker I was than the slowest ones!)

Surprisingly fitness wasn't a problem! As with the year I did the 600m swim, I didn't have any physical problems with doing the distance. The hardest part today was that my goggles fogged up, and so I found it really hard to spot the buoy when I lifted my head up to have a look! I reckon I wasted a bit of time having to stop a few times to peer ahead, plus it also stuffed my rhythm. (Lifting my head like that also allowed the swell to affect me and a couple of times it made me feel a bit dizzy - but once I started swimming properly again it was fine.) I also quite possibly covered more distance than I needed to - weaving around trying to take the right line. In fact I know went out too wide on the last buoy, and so I then seemed to take a longer path to shore much further out from the jetty than I needed to. Dammit!

Ok, my legs were a bit wobbly when I finished, but that didn't last too long. Bit of watermelon, and a banana, and I was feeling pretty normal. (So maybe next year I could go a bit harder!)

I hung around for a while waiting for the presentation because they were doing lucky draws along with the prizes for places. You could only claim one of those prizes if you stayed... so I figured I'd be pretty spewing if my name got pulled out for the holiday to Fiji and I wasn't there to claim it.

Naturally I didn't win it - but a friend did win one of the smaller accommodation prizes.

Highlight of the day was the undisguised double-take by someone I knew (another mum I know who is a bit sporty - with the figure to match) when she found out I was there for the 2km swim rather than the 600m. I guess I don't really look the part. Or the type. Funniest thing was that another mum noticed and bagged her for it!

Disappointment of the day was being there without family to give me a high five or two when I finished (Marc was still travelling back from a touch tournament, and the girls weren't interested in getting up early). It was a shame that neither of the girls gave it a go. Zoe is still too young, but Alison would be more than capable of doing the 600 (and a few of her friends were there.) The 14 yr old would possibly not be capable of doing it because she stopped doing swimming squad a few years ago now, and pleads no interest in swimming anymore. Pretty sad to throw it all away, and to have your unathletic 45 year old mother be a better swimmer, but that's her choice. She has had the grounding in it, so you never know down the track.)

I had asked Alison if she'd go in it with me, but she declined on the grounds of not liking swimming 'out there' where she can't see the bottom. When I got home and told her that three or four of her friends who went in it were asking why she didn't come (she is a better swimmer than each of them!) she started with "If I'd known they were going in it..." till she got short shrift for not having the guts to do her own thing and make her own decisions.

Maybe next year she'll give it a go. And I have a whole year to prep Zoe for the 250m charity swim!

OK, so I admit it. I was just a teeny bit weary this afternoon. And I may have had a bit of a lie down...

(local newspaper article )


Saturday, February 23, 2008


Not even a Lent thing.

You'd have thought with all my manic bouts of exercise that I'd be slim, taut and terrific. Unfortunately only the terrific part is true.

Hah! Not even that!

But, no. I am still carrying 8-10 kilos more than I'd like (and given that I did successfully get to an ideal weight just before I fell pregnant with #3, I know that a better weight is achievable post-babies. I also remember how much better I felt about myself back then.

My current weight comes in just above my supposed healthy weight range, so I really do have a health inducement to do something proactive.

But I've been deluding myself. Somehow I think that I SHOULD be able to eat and drink what I want IF I do all this mad exercise. But it's not working (probaby because it's not every day) and I'm really getting quite annoyed with myself, and my lack of willpower, when it comes to what I eat and drink.

It doesn't help that after I've done what amounts to a good exercise session - whether it be cycling a reasonable distance, or doing swimming training for one hour, then all I want to do is shovel ENERGY back into my body. Tasty, reward-type energy, if you know what I mean.

I also find it hard to go a night without a beer, or a glass of wine. I'd got to the point where I'd convinced myself that I really, really needed it to relax and wind down, and I'd never make it through dinner if I didn't have 'just one'. Even though I know all about Empty Calories when it comes to alcohol.

I'd whittled myself down to generally lite beer, and only one a night. (With the occasional wine - or two... the occasional following-day-headache had really been pretty rare.) But I couldn't even manage to get it down to every second night! How pathetic is that?

And the recalcitrant part of my mind kept saying surely I deserved it. "Come on! You've never exercised this consistently in your life! There must be some kickbacks to all this bike riding and stuff you've been doing?"

Sadly not. The scales have refused to budge, and despite the fact that I look "OK", my weight and figure is not befitting the cycling and swimming junkie within. And I don't look "OK" in clothes shop fitting rooms! And I don't have the range of choice of cycling clothes because the biggest standard women's sizes are touch and go for me. I have a jelly belly that is likely not-unrelated to the terms 'beer' and 'gut'.

Time to really do something about it. I have quite a few bad habits to change, but the easiest thing to do first is to cut the empty calories.

So, goodbye beer for starters. I thought I'd have to wean myself off it slowly - really try for the 'every other night' bit for starters, maybe?

But I have quite surprised myself this past week.

I'm up to 6 days straight without! As long as you don't count a few sips of Marc's wine on Thursday night. But I did decline a glass of my own, and I just drank water with the Thai meal we had out with a few others. So I reckon it counts.

Probably the two cans of coke that I drank because it was too damned hot at the school swimming carnival yesterday rather blot the copybook, but still.. I could have come home and had a couple of beers as well!

Except that I am SO not Catholic or religious, it did strike me as rather amusing that I decided to do this in the middle of Lent. (Like, isn't that where you give up things? For forty days or something? And if Easter is in a month, then it must be that Lent thing around now?)

The thing is, it's got to be a long term lifestyle thing, and secondly, I am hopeful that down the track I might still enjoy the odd beer or wine here and there. Particularly once I rein in some of my other bad eating habits.

I think I can do it this time.


Friday, February 22, 2008


Mission impossible.

Proof that I am TOTALLY crazy. I just signed up to do a 2km 'ocean' swim. On Sunday. The guys in my swimming squad talked me into it.

It actually isn't in the ocean. As such. It's in the harbour. Which makes ALL the difference (!)

The day's events comprise a 2000m swim, a 600m swim (around the jetty)... and a 250m. I did the 600m swim a few years ago, and found it easier than I had anticipated. OK, so I wasn't fast, but then, I'm never fast and never will be. The challenge for me is in the doing, rather than the winning, really. (That time when I emerged from the water, some marshals were exhorting me to run to the finish line, and I was all 'are you kidding? - me + swimming costume = not doing anything that might promote wobbling or jiggling of any uncovered parts. Plus I had Marc lined up to drop my towel down to me from the jetty so I could cover myself asap!)

So. A challenge. It has to be the 2000, because I've already ticked the 600m box. I actually have no idea if I can do it! Could be a bit embarrassing if I have to be fished out of the harbour. I just hope that my 2 x one hour swimming squads per week (in which we total over 2000m in a combination of warm up, drills and various speeds and distances of freestyle) will have given me the fitness I'll need. Sometimes we do a 1km swim in the class. 40 laps of a 25m pool. A lot of turning at each end, though. No turning at any ends with this! (Which is good and bad. It does mean you can get into a rhythm. But it means no assistance from pushing off a wall umpteen times.)

I was never a swimmer when I was a kid. I did learn to swim classes, and once I could manage 50m, that was it. I could 'swim'. About 5 years ago as I watched my 9 and 7 year olds trawling up and down a pool for an hour in their squad classes, I realised that they could swim better than me. Serendipity provided an adult swim squad at the same swimming centre, and I have been going either once or twice a week ever since. It has improved my swimming unbelievably, and it has also improved my fitness. And it re-introduced me to those exercise endorphins, whereby even if you are totally stuffed while trying to do the class, you feel all zingy-zing-zing the rest of the day.

I don't know that I'll feel any zing after attempting 2km, but, bugger it. I'm going to try.

Let's call it 'Mum putting her 'money' where her mouth is in regard to giving things a go.

Or you can just call me CrazyTrace.


Thursday, February 21, 2008



I'm about to ride my bike into town. Sounds harmless enough doesn't it? It's a new challenge for me however. The distance isn't the factor. 20 km isn't the issue any more, and Marc and I often ride that, another 30km, and then return, on the tandem of a Saturday morning.

It's the first time I'm riding solo down the highway though, with the first part being a bit 'light on' for shoulder.

So that's with a side order of adrenalin. Trucks and cars... please move to the other side of your lane rather than to the left and onto the shoulder!

I'm probably barking mad, but I decided I was ready for this challenge.

One, because it will save petrol on running into town twice in one day - which I already did yesterday. (I'll pick up the car from Marc's work, do my business, then drive home, sort the kids out, and drive back in and pick him up so we can go together to a BUG meeting, and possibly dinner.)

Just call me the eco warrior. Heh.

Secondly - well, we ride it on our tandem - and I suppose I just want to tick the 'I did it myself' box, and be able to say 'I rode into town.'

Future challenge, lobby for a bike path all the way to town, so more people feel they can do it. Yeah right.

Spare tubes. Check. Tyre levers. Check. Waiting till around 9.30 so that traffic has thinned out a bit. Check.

Deep breath. Check.


I made it! Just to make it more fun, I had a bit of a headwind to contend with, as well as the traffic - which is really only an issue in parts of the first 10km, where the shoulder of the road may as well not be there.

I wouldn't have liked to do it with any more traffic (ie. earlier)... and nor would I have liked it without my little mirror that attaches to the arm of my cycling gasses. Best thing since sliced bread! (You can see me 'wearing' it in the picture at the top of this post.) I can see what's coming, and brace myself as a big truck passes, and maybe just edge over to the left a teeny bit more. Or use the actual car lane (which is generally smoother) if I can see the road behind is clear. I can time my run through parts where the shoulder disappears (like over creeks!- Next time you are driving, imagine you are riding a bike along the shoulder of the road, and watch how many times the shoulder itself all but disappears!)

So, I am still on a bit of an endorphin high from doing it... though weariness is starting to set in a bit now. It's a harder ride than the same distance without traffic, that's for sure.

But I'm happy. Mission accomplished. Over and out.

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Monday, February 18, 2008


The right tools for the job

I had a couple of experiences recently where my mind started banging on to itself about how important it was to have the right tools for the job. One literally was quite literal - the other was a just a tad metaphorical. I do this to myself occasionally - come over all profound and introspective. Occasionally I even blog about it. (Who am I kidding?.. these days anything that happens gets a mental run-through as a blog post. I'm not sure that it's a particularly worthy or healthy pastime, but there you go. My sad, crazy life.)

I possibly mentioned that I had #3 daughter's school swimming carnival the other week. I pulled a pretty good con on her, I must confess. (I'm not sure if it's just that I've finally figured out how to do it after having been through the experience of the other two before her, or just that she is more pliable to my suggestions and emotional blackmail!):

"I'll come to the swimming carnival if you go in everything."

It might sound harsh, but my point was that, courtesy of swimming in a one-hour swimming squad, once a week, year round, she had the ability. I didn't give a toss whether she got any places, I just wanted her to take part. To have a go. And after fighting through a lot of rubbish in the past with the other two who were capable enough (to win the races even) but who baulked in various years at having a go at either the 100m freestyle, or the 200m IM, (And then being embarrassed when they only went in it because a friend would, and then they flogged said friend by 50m...) I was a bit over the whole cajoling thing. (Feeling sorry for the third child her yet?)

To Zoe's credit, she said "OK". (She must have really, really wanted me there!) And she set out on the day to do just that, even though it was raining, and she shivered in the marshalling area between races, with me running back and forth with a polar-fleece jacket. The only one I really had to do any sweet talking for was the 200m medley. Sure, 200m is a long way, especially after being in all the other events - and this was like doing each of the other events put together without stopping! But I pointed out to her that she didn't even have to try to go fast, but just go in it to see if she could do it. "We don't try to win our bike rides, do we? We just go in them to go the distance."

And so she did! I was so proud of her! And as she was the only junior girl (10 yrs & under) to do so, she won it! And by coming first in that, and one other race, and getting a couple of seconds, she emerged from the day as Junior Girls Champion.

Even she came up with the line: "You've gotta be in it to win it!" Smart girl!

My other two also did well at their swimming through primary school. - particularly #2. She has a beautiful swimming style that she could have taken places had she had the inclination to train 5 days a week! (*But she didn't and doesn't and that is ok.)

But the rest of it? As I reflected on my childhood, where I never got ribbons in any kind of race, I am convinced that, through "giving" my kids the year round swimming squad classes, we have given all three some very handy tools. They can very competently swim the length of an Olympic pool. (A few times even!) And as a two-for-the-price-of-one offer, they also get the aerobic fitness that these classes give them. (So apart from not being totally knackered from going in every swimming event at school, they get the cross-training type of fitness that has allowed them all to be able to run round a cross country track, and do OK at that as well.)

So they have picked up a few sporting ribbons (and trophies) along the way, which has to do wonders for their self confidence and self image. They are the sort that some parents grumble about, I suppose. Those bloody 'high achievers'. Thing is, they wouldn't be up there if they hadn't been given the tools with which to do so in the first place. And the right attitude to use those skills. You can't throw a kid in the pool and expect them to successfully swim the length of it through sheer willpower alone! (And trust me, I have seen parents do that!)

When I've had to work a bit on the 'attitude' part, hearing parents say to their kids who want to go in everything "Are you sure? It might be a bit much..." makes me shake my head and wonder what message they are trying to give their kids. Give up if it seems a bit hard?

While I often batter myself about the head (metaphorically speaking of course!) about many aspects of my parenting, this is one area I think we're getting right somehow. It has been disappointing to see the eldest, once in high school, give up the swimming and running that she achieved in, but at least she has had the choice. And those tools are in her repertoire now for whenever she needs them down the track. She knows how to use them now. The rest is up to her.

The following day I had my literal 'tools for the job' experience which got me going on my whole tools analogy in the first place.

I went bike riding with a group of cycling friends. One of the girls, Cheryl, is training herself up to do the Great Escapade - this year's version of the Big Ride, only a tad longer. (You can read all about it on her cycling blog that she has set up on it.)

The tools? I do carry a spare tube, and some tyre levers, but I'll confess that I've never had to change a bike tube, solo, on the road. Usually I'm with Marc - on our tandems - and so, seeing he is far more competent than me, and time is usually of the essence, he will just change the tube, I'll hand him anything he needs, then off we go again.

I had also never had a flat on my road bike in the 800km I'd clocked up since buying it last year!

That dream run was bound to come to an end, and I've been kind of expecting it to happen as I've been getting out a bit riding with others but without my attendant bike mechanic. Dreading it is more the word, because while I knew the theory of changing a tube, I knew I'd be 'hell slow' at doing it, and inclined to getting very flustered if anyone with expertise was hanging over me.

Well, that day I got FOUR flats! I was all ready to tackle my first one, but we had in our group a knight in shining armour - a very experienced cyclist - who happens to have taken a shine to Cheryl, and has become her unofficial coach and mentor. Naturally with his experience, he can change a bike tube in around 2 minutes. He zoomed up to me, took ove (looked at my pump, and used his own) changed it, and had me back on the bike before I knew what I was doing.

When I got the second flat about 10km later, I'd slowed behind the group, and, as I'd depleted my supply of spare tubes [ie. 'tube. singular'], I pulled out my mobile and rang Marc with the idea of getting him to duck out of work, and either buy me a new tube on the way, or just pick me up.

The knight in shining armour had other ideas - and a cache of spare tubes - as he whizzed back, put a new one in and put me on the bike again. On the other end of the phone I was getting instructions from Marc on how to check for glass or wire in the tyre, but I had to tell him it was out of my hands!

I got yet another flat a few kilometres later, but the gallant knight took over and put yet another tube in. There was a thunderstorm approaching, and with Cheryl trying to achieve a PB of 100km in one day, time was of the essence. But with the fourth flat I deliberately fell behind, and said to those who had stopped with me 'Enough is enough. You guys keep going, and I'll call Marc to come and get me.'

As you'll see if you read Cheryl's write-up, Marc later found the culprit buried in the tyre. A teensy weensy bit of glass. Those tubes would have just kept going down all day and all night!

But where am I going with this little anecdote? Well, while it was all very nice to be looked after - and I rely on my own personal knight in shining armour just about every other time I go riding - I knew that for me to be relatively self-sufficient with this cycling business, that I needed to get myself set up with the right tools for the job. (ie. more tubes, patching kit, for starters). And the skills to use them. And enough attitude next time to send the group off ahead while I manage my tube-changing learning curve myself!

Since then I've had another tube changing and 'sharp object in tyre checking lesson' from my live-in bike mechanic, and also learnt how to patch a tube. Next time I ride I'll be setting out with the right tools, the skills to use them, AND the right attitude.

After all, if I expect my kids to use the tools they have been given, then so should I.


Sunday, February 17, 2008


When you need a bit of cleaning help.

I don't know about you, but, courtesy of my children, who insist on *touching* the monitor screen when they are gesturing towards something on the computer, my monitor screen is well overdue for a clean. I just never seem to get around to it, well, a) because that's my usual M.O. (putting cleaning off) and b) I'm never quite sure what product to use.

So I stumbled across this solution the other day via baby~amore's blog...

Click here for monitor screen cleaning product.

Think I'll order one. Online?


Friday, February 15, 2008


When you need a lift...

... girls....

I have the answer.

Buy a new bra. (Or three.) Like I did today. I can't believe how much better I feel with a nice new well fitting, non-sagging bra. I wore the new one out of the shop and it's put a zingy-zing-zing in my step for the rest of the day.

[Sorry menfolk, all one or two of you that likely read this. I don't know what to suggest as an alternative. Maybe a new pair of undies :) ]

Pity it's not financially sustainable to give yourself a boost like this every other week.

Wonder how long the zing will last.


Thursday, February 14, 2008




We Australians should mark February 13 - yesterday - on our calendars as a day that should mean more to us than the designated, and celebrated Australia Day in January.

A new government. A new prime-minister, with the guts to use the word 'sorry' to the aboriginal people - specifically to the stolen generation . And I am finally proud.

This is the main excerpt of the Apology speech in parliament:

The full speech is 30 mins, which I'm going to link to on YouTube

I can't imagine that anyone and everyone from around the world would be interested, but given I missed it live, and then, logically, all the evening TV coverage didn't include it in its entirety, I'm marking it here for posterity, for my own records, if you wish, because the speech deals with so much stuff that is spot on. Stuff that really really needed to be said, stuff that brought tears to my eyes... stuff I want my kids to listen to carefully someday.

Here we go, in approx 10min blocks:
Part 1 (the above plus more...)
Part 2
Part 3

I have always been outraged that the previous Prime Minister (the weasel, John Howard) always refused to say sorry on behalf of the parliament for the wrongs of the past. The reason? Bloody-minded conservative semantics. That's all. I had never thought about it, but as Magic B and her mate Sarah point out, it's for the best that he didn't, and that the leader to do it was sincere. Good on you Kevin Rudd, and yes, I hope Howard did choke on his cornflakes.

(And this quote from my Crikey newsletter is priceless:

A lot of Australians said sorry today. Some did not. One most notable Australian --the man who late last year said that an apology to Aboriginal Australians would “only reinforce a culture of victimhood and take us backwards” -- drew attention to himself by staying out of sight. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry for John Howard's insensitivity. To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities we say sorry for John Howard's bloody mindedness. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture we say sorry for John Howard's crass indifference.

Magic also summarises my views on the response by the leader of the opposition, Brendan Nelson, who disgraced himself and sullied the day by trying to 'justify' the policies of the past as being 'with the right intentions'. Why am I not surprised that today he is making an issue out of a couple of Rudd's staff who, along with many aboriginal people, appropriately turned their back on his pathetic words.

I hope this is a new beginning. If the speeches above don't move you, or explain it all, perhaps Archie Roach's song 'Took the Children Away' might:


Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Reflections of ...

[Hey, I could qualify for Wordless Wednesday with this !]

Edited to add: Photo by Cait, who is becoming a bit arty farty with her photography lately! (Probably helps that she does a Photography unit at school!)

Confession: It was taken last Wednesday (along with a whole pile of other shots) after a storm. We had more rain yesterday, and so as I was hanging out the clothes today, ankle-deep in water, I decided her photo was more than appropriate!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Link it. Link it good.

This one's all about other people. Makes a nice change doesn't it?! This post has been awhile in the cooking - sitting in Draft for a little while.. (and I'm thinking 'straw' and 'camel' with Blogger after finishing it, and publishing it, and finding it inserted in my blog way back on the date I first saved the draft! I mean, WTF?!!)

Anyway, what I am saying is, I've finally got round to finishing this post! (And have now put it in the appropriate chronological order, and moved 'Change to Wordpress and Get Own URL and Renovate Blog' higher on my list of Important Things To Do over the next couple of weeks.)

Firstly, there's this linky love award thingy... I don't actually know the rules for this one, so I'm not sure how many blogging buddies I'm supposed to link to. And I hate making decisions, because 'I love youse all'. So I'll keep it to one... and given it involves kittehs there was really only once choice. And while I'm sure she doesn't need anymore kittehs right at this moment, I know she's a sucker for them, and she can probably do with all the kitteh love she can get right now. So this one's going to Rootietoot over at Because it Really is Personal. Also because she's a classic.

I also figured it was maybe time to do a Top 10. So this is the rest of my Top 10 in terms of "mutual admiration" blogging. (Rootie is right up there with everyone.) I do read some of Those Really Popular Blogs, but a) they don't need the links, and b) they get outrageous numbers of comments, and so I don't comment (pretty much ever) on their blogs, and c) they sure as hell don't comment on mine.

And then Miscmum (see below) awarded me this...

... so all of the following can and should consider themselves 'awarded' with an 'E' because they are Excellent mutually supportive bloggers. And they should go right ahead and hang it up on the blog equivalent of their 'Atta Girl' wall, if they have one! (As per my real life, the few awards and certificates I've ever received tend to get lost in the filing cabinet, or on a desk, or in a pile or drawer somewhere. Maybe when I renovate, I can get them all out and frame them, and hang them up!)

On with the show! Not in any particular order, because I'm rebellious like that. I hate rating anything! These are my top blogging mates. Buddies if you will. (Which means thay actually all should, appropriately, take the kitty award as well - go on, guys ... take the kittens! Rootie won't mind sharing!)

Miscmum. Karen is a net friend from pre-blogging days, and whose home town isn't so far from us. So close in fact that we went to her wedding, which not only was an honour to have been invited, but it brought our friendship into the real world. She is starting to really 'kick-arse' with her writing and blogging. Coming in in the Top 100 Aussie Blogs, and around #18 of top 100 Aussie Women bloggers, she has a very exciting writing project (psst - it's a book!) she is about to launch. I just hope she has some fingernails left by the time it happens.

Jeanie in Paradise. I have forgiven her for passing within ONE KILOMETRE of my house and not letting me know so I could invite her to drop in! Well, I wanted to show her that I live in Paradise as well, and you know how parochial these Queenslanders can get, thinking it's all 'Beautiful one day, perfect the next' up there and nowhere else. ;) Plus I wanted to meet her!! I can't remember who found who first, but she has become a great blogging mate. Always there with a comment, support and words of wisdom. And seeing she made #64 on the Top 100 Aussie Women Bloggers, other people must have recognised something special about her too!

The Brave. Her motto is 'Fortune Favours the Brave', and I think that's what firstly drew me to her blog, because I really admire that spirit. 'Strauss' is an Aussie who was living over in Canada with her husband and two young kids when I first discovered her, but they came back home just before Christmas. Enough of us hassled her to keep blogging, so happily she has obliged, and I'm not alone in loving her wonderful way with words, this time as she describes settling in 'back home'. We are also a bit of a two-person mutual admiration society, as we each credit the other with inspiring us to get out there and give it a go with using exercise to make us feel better about ourselves.

Shishyboo. "This is me, like it or lump it." Shish is another Aussie that I discovered across the other side of the country. In the time I've been reading her blog, she's actually grown into her blog title as she's wrestled with the sort of extended family issues that make you realise your own 'parental' and 'inlaw' issues aren't so bad after all. Lucky she has the unswerving support of her hubby and a really cute little girl! And for a self confessed shy homebody, she does a mean Halloween dress up!

Probably but not Likely. Elizabeth hails from Canada, and has been an internet mate for quite some time. She's not old enough to be my mum, but she's much wiser and accessible and comforting than my mother! Favourite aunty? No...still makes her sound too old. Dammit though, can't I just adopt her as the family I wished I had .. somehow. Ever since she 'fell for' Australia I have looked at my own country with her in mind, and anywhere I go I take photos 'for E'. She loves her books (we 'met' through an author's bulletin board!), movies, and travel. One of the most exciting bits of news I've had recently is that she and hubby have decided 'stuff it, let's go visit Australia'. Much better to have them visit in real life than vicariously through a doll and alter-ego called 'little fang' !!

The Potty Diaries
- Potty Mummy reckons kids have sent her crazy (aka 'potty') too. She's the one who passed on the kittens (see the bottom of this post) so I'll just say that she is a recent but delightful discovery in the blogging world. I confess to a fondness for that unique British turn of phrase and sense of humour (hence my preference for British TV) so I am really glad to have found her blog!

Brissiemum - Another Aussie; I'm not sure who stumbled across who first, but we've connected on an Aussie Mum basis ( Even though she's a Queenslander! ;) ) I think her kids would slot in between my kids' ages. If you click over to her site, don't jump - it's just she's left her music playing. OK, I jump everytime and usually turn it off because there's often too much other noise happening in the house! She's a busy Brissie mum, but you'll get a great insight into Aussie (and Brissie) family life. *Brissie being short for Brisbane, capital of Queensland - and yes, have you picked it? - there's a bit of friendly (probably football induced) rivalry between Queensland and NSW (my home state).

Daily Drudge - Jersey Chick may be a few things that I am not ('Christian', homeschooler, and capable of teaching her kids how to clean a loo!), but isn't it amazing how you can *click* across the world over your general attitude to life (and values when it comes to bringing up kids.) I have to say I admire anyone who has the energy to homeschool their kids along dealing with a few recent, tough household and financial issues along the way. She is a friend of Rootietoot, who admires her greatly, so that is a great recommendation in itself.

Northern Girl - She works so hard, I don't know how she finds time to sleep, let along blog, and if I've told her once, I've told her at least twenty times, I think she's a legend. She lives up in the northern parts of the US, not far, I gather, from the border of Canada, way up where they get extreme temperatures and one hell of a lot of snow. They live on property, but she works in town and also drives around one hell of a lot for her job, and still manages to run a household comprising her hubby, and two daughters - with all the challenges that having a teenager and tweenager bring.

Magic Bellybutton. She's got the proverbial (but creative) 'potty mouth', and tells it like it is, but this Aussie bombshell rocks. (And a bombshell she is!! - don't head over there if you have an aversion to swear words - well, I say that because of today's post in particular!!) Why do I love her blog? (Except for the new fluoro pink text on black that I've told her I struggle to read because my eyes are getting old and crazy with the rest of me, and consequently I would, most likely and sadly, click on through if I'd only chanced upon her now...).. Because she's got the guts that I don't to wear her views on politics and religious bigotry, her intolerance of morons, and the generally unfashionable habit of watching shows on the ABC, on her sleeve! Sometimes I wonder if she's a long lost baby sister that was given up for adoption or something, because our world views are so similar. (More similar than I share with my own sister.) Only she's so much more feisty than I'll ever be! (Oh yeah, and she's from Queensland too! I think it's a conspiracy!!)


OK.. I've got to 10 or more - I lost count! - and I've gone waaaaay overtime in terms of minutes (hours) spent on this post. I've got a few other regulars (and new discoveries) I'd like to link to, and I will at some point down the track. But for now in terms of long overdue linky love, and mutual admiration society type posting, as they say in the business - "That's a wrap."


Monday, February 11, 2008


There was an old woman who swallowed a fly

Because for some reason she had her mouth open whilst belting down a hill on a tandem with her daughter. (There's one very good reason to ride on the back of a tandem, rather than the front, or on a single bike!)

And though she's accidentally swallowed a fly before, this one whipped in at such untimely velocity that it felt kind of ...wedged... in the back of her throat.

She tried to cough it back up as they continued downhill, apparently quite perplexing her husband on the bike behind, because he could see her head bobbing up and down, quite unlike any downhill, yee ha, coasting tactics he'd ever seen.

The coughing made her gag, so she slowed and pulled to the side and she tried to hoik it up. To no avail.

While she didn't choose to go down the path of swallowing a spider to catch the fly (she tried to wash it down with water, and then ate some grapes), the family have awarded her the Dramatic Performance of the Year, and she will not live it down until she dies (or they do... hmmmm...)

Additionally the eldest child has now decided that the Drama Queen tendencies that she has often been accused of now have a genetic imperative after all.

I survived. As you do. We rode 50km with the kids on Saturday. We're aiming to do the Loop the Lake ride (85km) on the 9th March, so thought we should get the girls out for a bit of 'training'. Funny how I was buggered afterwards and they were not!
I 'do' temporary tattoos -> ->
Should I get a permanent one done do you think? ;-)

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Friday, February 08, 2008


When you're feeling small and insecure

and still don't have time to do a proper post...

there's always The Galaxy Song to put you in your place.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


A Claytons post.

(Translation for non-Aussies/Kiwis, click here)

In other words it's the blog post you're having when you're not having a blog post.

We haven't been washed away. For some reason or another I've actually been a bit busy. Can you believe it?! (No?... well, I guess some of it has been spent reading blogs, and half composing blogs, but never quite getting it all together.)

I have a draft post half completed, and a few others swishing around in my head. Meantime out in the real world, I did have my one hour swim squad on Monday, Zoe's school swimming carnival Tuesday, a bike ride for me yesterday (in which I got FOUR flats! and ended up calling Marc to come and get me and the bike), and today and tomorrow I have to head to town for various errands (including a lower back x-ray I should have had done before Christmas), visiting my daughter's friend's mum in hospital, and perhaps even buying some food for us all to eat. My favourite shorts ripped in the seat on Tuesday afternoon (hopefully all of the ripping happened at home, and I wasn't walking around the swimming carnival all day with a big hole in my pants!) - and so I wouldn't mind finally spending a clothes shop voucher I got for my birthday last August on some new clothes.

We had still more rain on Monday and Tuesday. (Yes, the swimming went ahead in the rain.) Everything is going mouldy. But I just hung washing out standing ankle deep in water; today, yes, hallelujah, there is blue sky.

Yesterday we actually saw the sun (hence the bike riding) but then had a tremendous thunderstorm around 4pm and a power blackout for nearly 3 hours. (Gah! What do you do between end of school and dinner with no computer, no TV - and very little light because it has come over so dark!?!! and it's bucketing down outside!)

I also have committed myself to some netball paperwork for rego on Saturday - which therefore needs to be done by.. hmmm.. tomorrow?!

Needless to day, serious blogging must wait.

I'll be baccck.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008


It's raining, it's pouring...

I don't think we'll be mowing the yard today. (Or for a while.)

Our backyard is prone to .. um... ponding... and I occasionally post photos of it. But I think this is the worst we've had it.

We've had around 140mm (about 5 inches) ** of rain since it started late morning yesterday (Right on the time Marc and I were riding the tandem back from town. Did you know you can get pretty wet riding 23km in pouring rain?)

It's possibly more - the hydrographer in Marc thinks we've had more rain here than in town (where the official rainfall figures are taken) 25 km away. (Personally I think it's time the hydrographer in him acquired a rain gauge for our place.)

I guess I had better start cycling clothes through the dryer.


** Corrected figures because I am a moron. (But at least a moron who was, this time, able to realise her mistake instead of having someone point it out to her.!)

When you look up the stats on the BOM website, the rain is reported as "since 9am"... That's, like, cumulative. So you don't add those figures for each hour since 9am together. Idiot!

It's still quite a lot of rain. Right?


Friday, February 01, 2008



I'm here and there all over the place at the moment, and thus the chances of me coming up with an artfully composed blog post on a theme, are .. like.. zero.

So today you get bits and pieces, which is pretty much reflective of the way I approach each day anyway. A little bit of this, a little bit of that... oh look... a distraction!! Chaos Theory! I have it down to a fine art.

I have spent a bit of time playing around with the websites that I do voluntarily (for the netball, and the bike group)... but all the time with this impending pressure about getting the house just a bit more presentable for the building designer visit this morning. (And I had to paint one more coat of paint on the new shed door. The shed that may get knocked down yet.. but anyway...)

A significant amount of cleaning was achieved (in my terms) but I still had to swallow my pride and take the 'oh well - it's just how I am/we are' attitude to the messy benches, the cobwebs, the dirty windows. (You're going to have to design with that in mind, mate.) While to the outsider the house would have looked shabby, and messy (and cobwebby), it's massively better than what it usually is, and I am on a mission to try and keep it that way. Hmmm.

We still have The Decision to make. Renovate, or knock it down and start again. We are armed with a bit more info, but nonetheless, the decision is down to us, and we vacillate between leaning one way or the other. But I will leave all that for another time.

Ms 14 has been worth her weight in gold in the clean-up lead-up this week. Things have been happening lately with her that are wonderful and brilliant, and everything a mother of a teenage daughter could hope for. (Although points were deducted yesterday for "speaking to me LIKE THAT".)

On Wednesday afternoon (while the other two were already back at school) she waved a DVD at me - Torchwood. Series 2. Episode 1.

Noooo! Don't do it to me! I said. I have to go and sort through The Ironing Pile up in our room.

So, she put the disk down, and she came up and helped me! And basically took charge. (A bit of role reversal stuff happened, as she tut-tutted about this and that. It was a bit freaky, but by god, she was good. Even she thought she was good, because she told her father all about it that night when they were driving to Touch. Plus she also liked the way I was in such a good mood from all her helpfulness that I bought her a coke AND an icecream that afternoon. You'd think the kids would have learnt by now that life is sweeter when Mum is in a good mood, and it's really pretty simple to get Mum in a good mood.

She followed that with directing Zoe into cleaning up all her Stuff! in the playroom last night, with great success. I think I'll keep her. Lately she has started ironing some of her clothes when she needs them, and Alison is following her lead.

I like!


I got this bloggy, moggy award this week too - from Potty Mummy "Potty" meaning Crazy, which must be why she feels some vague affinity with me, even though she doth protest that she is certainly not crazy enough to do some of the things I do! I'm not old or crazy enough to have forgotten what it was like to have a 4 year old and a 2 year old, and to have gone through the whole potty training thing (yes! a play on words!) Thusly, I do enjoy her blog which I only came across recently, and I appreciate the acknowledgement. And the link at her end!! Thanks PM!

I am supposed to pass this blog love on.. and I will, pinky promise. Only tomorrow now, because it's now tonight (and I started this post this morning), and I'm tired enough to go to bed early because we are doing our crazy crazy early morning get up to go riding.


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