Saturday, March 29, 2008


I feel better now!

[If you're Australian - and old enough - feel free to sing that as per the 1990 Medibank Private ad lyrics - seeing that's what's going through my head.]

But yes. I feel so much better now. Sweet relief. I came good by dinner last night, so I went with my crazy genes and got up early and went into the early morning bike ride. I knew that if I didn't, I'd resent the 5 hours of "being" at netball. At least this way I have done some exercise, and something for myself, plus enjoyed some social time over coffee as well.

And then the netball season began. Almost on the wrong foot - or should I say 'shoeless feet'. Heading out the door, Alison in thongs because she wasn't playing the first game. On Mother Auto-Pilot I ask the nag question: "Have you got your shoes?"....

"Uh-oh..." she says. "oops". Then has to hunt for them. Imagine if I'd asked that a few minutes later, in the car.

She can't locate them immediately.

"I'd have had them if you hadn't made me put them away."

[See Mum explode. Watch Mum speak in a very loud voice and slam doors.]

But wait! They weren't even put 'away'. The were kicked under the computer desk, with dirty socks still in them.

Things weren't off to a good start once at netball either. Cait's junior team are slow to arrive, and we have to play the first quarter with a sub. (She'd told them to get there only 10 minutes before the game started! See what happens when I'm out of commission!)

We came through the day with one blistered toe (Zoe), one bloody nose (Zoe), and a skinned elbow and knee (Ali - to match the ones she did at training a fortnight ago. I'd take a photo and blog it, but she won't let me, so I can only tell you about it.) And an ant bite (Me - while kneeling on the grass tending Zoe's bleeding nose.)

Zoe got clonked in the face with the ball, and prone as she is to nosebleeds in the heat, I wasn't too fazed that she got the nosebleed. It just looked dramatic - like a murder scene, Coach Cait reckoned. Fortunately it happened only a couple of minutes out from full time, because she'd been playing so well, and getting a few goals! She has big shoes to fill with the netball, but she showed she must have picked up something from watching them. (Surprising that, given mostly at netball carnivals she is to be found with her nose in a book.)

When Alison went down in her second game (after slipping and doing the splits on some loose sand that shouldn't have been on the court in her first game), my heart did lurch. Thankfully only grazes, but she didn't exactly need to be collecting them. I've also pronounced her netball shoe soles too worn, despite her protestations that she tripped over someone's foot, and so now my lazy day at home tomorrow has turned into a shopping trip for new netball shoes. This netball palava just doesn't end.

This year I also thought I had managed to trade serving all day in the canteen with being the support mum for two teams. Oh no. Muggins here ended up in there yet again during the last game that Ali was in because there was noone else. All the rest of the committee were umpiring. Funny how not being secretary anymore hasn't changed much at all. My replacement hasn't been sucked in yet to being hands on during netball days, and there is simply noone else prepared to get off their bums who has a conscience.

When I was the only adult left to 'man' the canteen in the game after Ali's - the last game of the day - I finally made a stand, shut the canteen, emptied the garbage, counted the money, and left. It was hard, knowing I was leaving others to close up who'd been there longer than me. But someone's got to do it.

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Friday, March 28, 2008


Scratch that.

Scratch Thursday 27th March from the records. I wish it didn't happen, really. I don't know if it was a bona fide migraine I had (always wary of calling a headache a migraine..), or some bug going around, but I woke up with the headache I went to bed with, feeling nauseous with it as well. And then I threw up. All day. (I'm sure I don't need to describe that any further - I mean, once you've got rid of breakfast, what else is there to bring up? But your stomach insists.... errgh.)

The other possible cause was that the headache tablets I took (after one weetbix and an orange juice) impacted like they did once before when I took them on an empty stomach. (That time being the morning after Miscmum's wedding! (Before she was a misc mum!) That time mixing my drinks was the inevitable cause of the headache, but I swear to you this time that there was absolutely no alcohol involved at all. I suppose there are other things in my life that cause me to get headaches, but nothing stood out from Wednesday other than that I got what I felt was a hunger-induced headache by lunchtime because I avoided eating too much during my easy bike ride thinking I always eat TOO much and no wonder I'm not losing any weight.)

Whatever the cause, anyway... holy hell. It. Was. Not. Fun.

(And it will be a while before I can face orange juice again; it was my favourite breakfast time beverage.)

I rang the Daddy around lunchtime - he would need to come home from work, because there was no way in the world I could do the after school stuff. Fantastic timing .. not. He had lots to prepare before heading off today to Brisbane for a Touch Football tournament, followed by 3 days work in their Brisbane office.

Somehow he managed to get home by about 2.00, but then I could barely talk to him without it making me feel even more nauseous. OMG, why didn't he just know what had to be done? Couldn't he mindread? Or just muddle through without having to ask me every little detail? Just because he's usually at work and doesn't know all the tos and fros and ifs and buts that happen around here every afternoon. (If nothing else it did make me realise that there is a fair bit of stuff that I organise and coordinate.. See! I DO do something after all... It's really just the cleaning I'm crap at.)

All day, as I lay there trying to keep as still as possible, my brain had kept clattering away like the hard drive on my computer...(when the virus scan is running - heh.) It hurt. Why couldn't I just turn it off? And oh how I wished he could have just plugged a USB drive in somewhere, downloaded all he needed to know, and then disappeared. (I suppose that would have hurt my head too..) Talking. How we take it for granted, till it's hard to do so... And normally if I was going AWOL from my SAHM duties, I would have written a list.

It couldn't even be a 'normal' afternoon could it. There were added extras in there to make things more complicated. He had to go up to the high school to drop off Ms 12s forgotten flute and recorder for band .. which is after school - and the only reason we didn't make her suffer the consequences was that we pay for the damn lesson!). He was then going to have to take Cait and Zoe to netball - where Cait coaches her junior team, and I usually stay as supervisor, zapping off to pick Alison up at 5.00 and then returning to help pack up.

So.. What and where was Alison's flute and recorder stuff? I probably could have figured it out, but there was no way in the world I could get up from the bed to look for it, let alone attempt to describe it. He managed to talk to her at school via Cait's mobile to find out what to bring. But then he tried to ask me where he should take it, and all I could manage was 'you'll just have to figure it out...' and give a vague three-word sentence direction as to where the school office was. (while thinking "God, why didn't you ask them that on the phone as well?!) He headed there in time for the end of school, so I suggested he bring Cait home instead of her taking longer on the bus.

So while he is gone I hear rain. Heavy rain. (Rain = impact on netball training.) And no sound of them getting home. (I hear her normal bus, but not them... I find out today they went to look at the beach! And then waited for Zoe's bus - which had already been!)

The phone rings, and I suppose I should answer it in case it is them, but it is already one of the mothers ringing to see if training is on. More talking I didn't need. I tell her Cait will ring as soon as she is home, and then, once she is home, I manage to tell her she'll have to make the call about the rain, then ring everyone. And hope that Dad supervises that well enough. (I would have been making sure they all knew when the game was on Saturday, etc.. like the good mummy manager that I am...)

Saved from the hour of netball, he still has to dive out again to pick up Alison, during which time the heavens really opened. (Good call on the netball). Fortunately it had eased by the time he went out yet again to get pizza. Thank god he had figured by now that I was in no position to suggest something for dinner. (He has been known to ask in these sort of circumstances, but even he could see that this was one of the worst conditions he has seen me in!)

The full-on nausea finally eased by around 7pm.. and I managed a shower, and gingerly came downstairs. Errgh. You don't realise how much pizza smells until you don't have any and your senses are recoiling!

Today the headache had mostly gone, but not quite, and in desperation I went to the chiropractor. "I need a $48 headache cure" I said. The thing is, I used to get nausea headaches (migraine-type I suppose - I was once prescribed migraine medication), which used to reduce me to uselessness - but they have never happened on such a scale since I'd started getting chiropractice treatment for my back - a side effect I had noted and very much appreciated. So I don't know what went awry this week. I feel a bit better for the neck adjustment, but still very fragile today.. Giving swimming a miss, and probably even the morning bike ride I was planning to do tomorrow.

Two silver linings. Two! One is that I stepped on the scales before the shower last night, and I'd dropped about 1 kg since.. meh.. before Easter. Can a day of throwing up have an impact that quickly? This morning the same. Given I felt like a blimp over Easter, it's hard not to immediately point to a day of starvation (and emptying of one's stomach contents) as the cause.

The second? I haven't touched any chocolate for two days!

One must be thankful for small mercies. Maybe I'll keep the day on the records after all. As long as I don't get another one like it anytime soon.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008



This proverbial wagon I'm attempting to ride is not getting anywhere fast. You know... the 'cut down on alcohol, cut down on junk food, keep up the exercise' wagon. You know the vehicle to which I allude?

Well I keep falling off the bloody thing.

I blame Easter?! Pfffft. Who needs it? Even if we had a weekend of 'family' time. (Sort of. If you count trying to clean the house as family time.)

It's the chocolate temptation. It's the two public holidays (meaning no swimming squad on Friday AND Monday).. It's twice the number of weekend evenings meaning FOUR nights in which I, for some reason, allowed myself a wine or two (Because it was a weekend, because it was a holiday weekend, because? I don't know! So much for laying off the booze. And I'd been doing so well. *sob* - even if it wasn't translating to the scales.)

It's all gone to hell in a handbasket.

For some reason I also forgot to exercise in the week leading up to Easter. So I haven't done any exercise since Monday of last week. This is not an ideal way to lose any weight in anyone's language, particularly when Cadbury chocolate is also involved. Plus I've not been eating sensibly the rest of the time either.

Well, when I fall off, I make sure I fall off properly.

I haven't even been on a bike since our MTB ride the other weekend. And this week I have a deadline to meet with a netball handbook, so I could conceivably spend all day tomorrow at the computer. (Spent half today here... )

But stuff it all... In the morning I am getting up early and heading into town to meet up with some cycling people who are, fortunately, meeting up at the more Tracey-friendly hour of 8am (rather than the common 6.30 or 7am.) It won't be a hard ride, but at least it will be something.

Hopefully enough to get me back on the wagon ride to better health and the loss of at least a couple of kilos.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Chipping away

I swear we must have filled the equivalent of one of these clothing bins -with a combination of useable clothing, plus a few bags we labelled "rags". (I've used a few different bins over the weekend. Call it sharing the love between different charities... )

I did ask one of the charity shops once if they took clothing for rags and they said yes. Funny how you still feel a bit guilty about dumping stained or torn clothes, but I suppose rating clothing wearability isn't a strong point. And "one man's trash is another's treasure" even with clothing I guess - so I suppose they will know what to do with it. (We knew a guy once who was in the 'rag trade'- as he liked to describe it - whereby material was shredded and compressed into uniform-sized rags then sold. So we tend to feel that just about anything must surely be rag-worthy. ) The bigger question is why the hell we had so many basically unwearable items of clothing anyway.

We've also taken a car load of rubbish rubbish to the tip. So yes.. we are a few hundred pounds lighter already, and we're not really even half way.

Our bedroom - our whole storey - looks presentable again. And clean. (If you don't look up into the cobwebs under the steep pitched ceiling that is...) That herculean task was achieved mainly by Marc who did most of the cleaning (I had a shopping trip interruption on Saturday morning - when one's girl has reached the point in her life when she desperately needs proper bras, and there are no other spare weekday afternoons or weekends on the horizon, you've just got to get her to the shops, clean up or no clean up.)

I wish I could say we'd made a similar impact on another floor of the house yesterday and today, but we have mostly been sorting through lots of 'stuff' on shelves, and computer desks, and various baskets and drawers. And throwing out all sorts of stuff that you can't think why you kept, really... Probably thinking it would come in handy one day, only whenever you might have needed it, you wouldn't have known where to find it anyway... Please tell me we are not the only people who accumulate stuff like that.

The vacuum cleaner has been waved around a bit, but there is much that I have to continue on with once everyone is back at school and work. Thus my back has been spared up to this point, but I'm going to have to get stuck in and risk it. I've taken it on myself to do the middle floor (all the kids' stuff) because I couldn't face Marc going ballistic about it all. I really don't think he would cope with all their stuff, nor understand what was valuable to them and what wasn't. As it is, I anticipate a fair bit of swearing by myself in their absence.

Meanwhile, last night I managed to slice a wafer-thin bit of skin off my thumb while chopping up tomatoes for the salad... and it has been one of those stupid inconveniences that you notice all the more when you are trying to clean. Bandaids don't stay on the end of my thumb properly, particularly when I need to keep washing my hands. And then I was using a quick-unpick to unpick some stitches (so as to put new elastic in a pair of kid's shorts) and I stuck it right into the raw skin of the sore bit. Yeeow.

Yesterday afternoon we took a break, and ducked off down to the beach. Autumn it may be, but the water wasn't cold, and the waves were just right for even an amateur like myself to bodysurf. I wish we'd made it back there today, but while I put a roast dinner on, Cait got herself over some sort of hormonal teenage huff (that I basically ran away from and let Marc deal) and suddenly got all keen on helping Marc sort through the mess that was our cd/vcr/dvd collection. They achieved a garbage bag of old video tapes, and a box of kiddy ones to hand down to friends with littlies. It's a bit sad to see those old Wiggles and Hooley Dooley tapes go - another reminder that your kids have gone and grown up on you... But there is really no point hanging on to them. By the time I have grandchildren, VCRs will be well and truly extinct. (As it is, among their number is the first ever Wiggles video, and boy were they unpolished and gawky back then! I wonder if the current generation of Wiggles fans would even recognise them.)

They also managed to reunite nearly all our wandering cds with their empty cases. Bar one, which I hope will turn up somewhere. ("I hope it will turn up" is my favourite mantra)

It'll probably turn up up *there* in the kids' kingdom, and I will wonder what the hell, who on earth put it THERE?

The other big question I have for the weekend is why the hell the Easter Bunny didn't leave ME any chocolate, because I have been salivating over the kids' chocolate all weekend, and using all manner of tactics to get them to share with me.

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Friday, March 21, 2008


The Big Clean

It has begun. The Big Clean of Easter 2008. After the Big Sleep-In, mind you. (What? You didn't really think we'd be treating it like one of our start-at-dawn, marathon bike rides did you?!)

He suggested we tackle one floor per day. (Three storey house, remember.) That sounded fair enough. So we decided to start at the top. Our bedroom.

Several bags of clothing, clothing for rags, and "rubbish" later, we've only dealt with one half of the room. Given we didn't start till after midday, that's probably reasonable - plus I must point out that it is a rather large room - but I already feel pounds lighter (even if I've only taken 3 bags to the clothing bin so far.) Bloody hell, the amount of clothing and stuff that we have both hung on to over the years is insane. I suppose it's a combination of sentimentality, and dislike of waste - the classic packrat mentality. It doesn't seem right to throw out something still theoretically wearable, or something that cost money, or something that someone gave you... But if you haven't used, worn, or needed it in 10 years, then you don't need it at all, do you?!

Time to get ruthless.

Today I shoved the first thing he ever bought me into the charity clothing bag. It was a woollen Swan Dri bush shirt - which is what all self respecting bushwalkers/cross country skiers etc wore back way back before polar fleece became popular. I haven't worn it for years, and it probably wouldn't fit me now anyway - and even if it did, I'd still choose to wear polar fleece. But it was a bit sad to throw it away. I also put in a few handknitted jumpers. (translation: sweaters) My mum was always an avid knitter, and made some really lovely jumpers with fair-isle patterning. And there was one I made too. But I don't wear them anymore. Not that I'm a fashionista, but they were rather.. eighties. Maybe someone else will. It is pointless them sitting there for another 10 years.

An old bedside table, sitting sideways outside the ensuite, still had bits and pieces in it that I never knew where to stash. Out went the hairdryer styling attachments that I have never used. Out went some perfume. Out went a lot of stuff. The only thing that might hold any value is a few Swarovski figures that have not been on display since... meh.. when I moved out of home? Not my style anymore. Perhaps I'll see what three out of the five pieces will get on eBay. (The owl has lost an ear, and the bear has lost an arm.. so goodness knows what I should do with them.)

Tomorrow I guess we tackle my 'sewing' area. I went through a relatively short phase of sewing (when I learnt how to sew knit fabrics, and acquired an overlocker, around the time that Cait was born) I made quite a few things for my toddlers and babies, and a few sloppy joes for us, but I've not been inspired to sew much at all in the last 10 years. It's hard to believe I accumulated so much material in such a short time. And I don't know what the hell we're going to do with that... (and he'll probably even suggest I get rid of the overlocker seeing I never use it) but that's a conundrum to deal with tomorrow.

God, I hate it when he's right, but not only does this need doing, but it has already rained (tonight) - though possibly not up where I wanted to camp- and the untimely arrival of the red menace has me kind of relieved I'm not where I wanted to be after all.

I hate it when he turns out to be right.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008



What is with this latest trend of teenage supermarket checkout guys and 'chics' asking "What have you been up to today?".. or "What are your plans for the weekend?"

As if they are going to be interested in what a 45 yr old SAHM of three is going to be doing anyway!

It seems to happen particularly with one of our local supermarkets, and I don't know if they have been specifically directed in their training to 'engage the customer', and whether, if this is the case, they have totally misinterpreted these directions.

Whatever! I just wish they'd stop. "Have a good day" will do. "How's your day been?" Borderline. At least it can be answered with a short "good thanks". But the open-ended query? Good for engaging little kids in conversation. Not suitable for 'pleasantries' involving frazzled mothers who are pretty much over supermarket shopping by their mid-forties, and just want to get out of there. How do I answer that anyway? Where do I start? Where do I end? What on earth is it that I might do that a teenager might possibly be interested in? How do I summarise it in a one-liner, other than with a belligerent-sounding "Not much"? If I said I'd been 'blogging', or that I was going to go on a 90km bike ride, what then? What would they say?

So this morning the guy asks "What are your plans for Easter?".

I hesitated, then shrugged and said.. "Well, actually, we're cleaning the house." (Thinking, well that'll shut him up.) No! He then says "What, no Easter celebrations?".

I couldn't think of anything to say to that (because no, no Easter celebrations, because, actually, I couldn't give a flying you know what about Easter celebrations*). And so I just gave him a withering 'Whatever' look, and another shrug, which seemed to do the trick of shutting him up.

Just scan the damn groceries, take my money and be done with it. If something comes up, sure, have a chat. Say "how are you?" if you feel the need as you start scanning my stuff. Then 'have a good day' at the end if you must, but just move it right along. I'm more interested in whether you can pack my groceries keeping the cold stuff together, the fruit and veg together, the cleaning products together, and without squashing anything.

* Segue:

Yes, Easter. A big fat WHATEVER. Which may offend some viewers, but sorry, it's the way I am. Easter? It's a religious event on the Christian calendar (after many centuries of disagreements, negotiations and calendar calculations between various Christian churches I gather...) If so, why am I spending money on overpriced chocolate in the shape of eggs or rabbits? Oh! It's tied up with a spring pagan festival celebrating birth.. or something like that? (But.. it's autumn here!) Therefore we buy... chocolate eggs and rabbits? Okaaaay. So really, it's all about Commercialisation then?

It's just... I don't worship at the alter of either religion. And you know what? The societal peer pressure to participate in the secular commercialisation aspect is much stronger than any obligation I feel to participate religious-ly.

Perhaps I should find the strength within to avoid the latter as easily I do the church.

I stood in the supermarket, surveying the overpackaged, and overpriced chocolate, knowing that if the Easter Bunny didn't come, or brought normal chocolate instead of Eggs and Bunnies, I'd be the Party Pooper Mum of the Century.

It suddenly struck me who the real bunny was.


The only consolation is that "our" Easter Bunny can always be relied upon to leave Cadbury chocolate. Yesterday afternoon the girls opened their annual Easter parcel from Grandma. It included more bloody soft toys. (Yep, thanks for that Grandma - the kids just don't have enough bloody soft toys, and yes, they have plenty of room for more soft toys.) Fluffy rabbits that were exactly the same as the ones they received from her last year or the year before (down to the same colour for each kid!) Only slightly smaller. I'm not sure whether the significance of that is that this year's fluffy bunny is the baby (or younger sibling?) of the previous one, or whether, like most things these days, you just get less rabbit for your buck. Like how Mars Bars are getting smaller and smaller in inverse proportion to the increase in price.

So, anyway, each rabbit had a small gauze bag of eggs around their necks, and came with a few more chocolate eggs - all wrapped up in cellophane. Grandma had also thoughtfully included a bag of eggs for "Mum and Dad" which the girls immediately raided. "Because yours is Cadbury!"

I'd be 'paid back' after the Easter Bunny comes, apparently, because it's a given that She (The Easter Bunny? Of course She's a She) will bring Cadbury.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008



So much for my Grand Easter plans. He Who Must Be Obeyed reckons we should stay home and do a big clean up.

I know it makes sense.

But I feel a bit deflated. Particularly seeing that observation came after a not so enthusiastic response to my suggested camping and bushwalking destination anyway.

And because I spent time on researching that destination. Wasted time it appears.

Sometimes I have days when I feel anything I do is a complete waste of time.

Meanwhile part of the reason that we should stay home and do a big clean up is that I am not the Domestic Goddess that I should be, and I've really let things slide lately. Basic daily or weekly cleaning jobs that are really my domain (seeing I am at home, and he is at work) have been ignored. I hate effing vacuuming, for instance - and a big reason for that is that there is so much crap left lying around by every member of this household (and I include Him and Me in that), that it seems just insurmountable. Bending down to pick it up, move it, move to get behind furniture, is a sure recipe for an effed up back for some days afterwards.

So it's all about what I don't do.

But we have to make a move on this renovation saga - and frankly the house has got to the point where it is embarrassing to have people come inside.

If I sound just a bit depressed it's because I am.

Maybe it'll rain anyway.


Monday, March 17, 2008


We're a weird mob.

I suppose if this youtube video (that I happened to hear about on the radio this arvo) was from the States, I would have said "Only in America..".

But we have our own crazy people here too!

Maybe I should just say "Only in Queensland ... where even the mice can surf."

Check them out:

It's worth clicking through to the you tube site and reading the accompanying explanation. (Even if he can't spell that well!)

Here's a link to a second one. which sets the scene a bit more.


Sunday, March 16, 2008


Wouldn't you think...?

Wouldn't you think... that I wouldn't necessarily be tired today because all I did was stand around watching netball. (And sit down the alternate half hours between games.)... (Except for the first hour and a half of the carnival serving in the canteen.)

Wouldn't you think... that daughter knowing she had to play a rep carnival all day, then follow it up with a dance rehearsal for the school musical - would have gone to bed earlier last night? (But she had a sleep-in on Saturday morning, so didn't feel the need to go to bed...)

Wouldn't you think... that I would have gone to bed earlier myself, given I was so tired from bike riding, and given I had to get up to get daughter #1 in to the netball carnival...

Wouldn't you think ... that when daughter looked dead on her feet after her big day that we wouldn't have to harass her to bed tonight!

Apparently, currently, once she's in bed, no matter what the time, nor how tired she is, she has an urge to finish reading To Kill a Mockingbird... for which I suppose I shouldn't complain... and, hey, I studied that in high school waaaaaay back in the 1970s!!!....


Wouldn't you think the term "Hypocrite!" might spring to mind here?... (and here....)



But the thing that quite possibly has me most perplexed this week:

Wouldn't you think ... that with our very small netball association, during the first junior (10-12 yr olds) netball team training session for the season, held this week.. (where Cait is coaching a team, and we've let the parents know that her mother - me- will be there as 'manager').. that at least one parent out of the other 8 kids in the team would have come over to say 'G'day'.????????

Nup. They all dropped and ran. And picked up and ran. Not one came over to even check out the coach, or say hello to either her or the mother supervising... Not. One.


Saturday, March 15, 2008


MTB retrospect

"Can't wait for the Retrospect". It was a line uttered (by someone else as it happens) on the first multi-day wilderness bushwalk I ever did. The Retrospect did arrive, and it always does, and the expression has become a bit of a family idiom.

I thought this to myself a few times today as we went on our reconnaissance MTB (mountain bike) ride in the State Forest just a few kms from home. A few *other* words (of the *choice* variety) were uttered too. There were more than a few loose rocky patches, which kind of freaked out someone of my meagre MTB skills - I've never done a lot of skidding around on dirt, and loose rocks sending the bike jittering off course give me the freaking jitters. It really freaked me out on a couple of downhills.. but also on the uphills. (As if you don't have enough to contend with grinding your way up - sheesh...) [Can you tell from that last paragraph I was FREAKED ?]

But I made it, so of course, through the rose-coloured specs, it was great!

We even did a bit of cattle herding.... !! (As you'll see below...)

Looking like he hasn't even raised a sweat.

Me on the other hand - albeit after a few more, bigger, hills - face like a lobster.. (and turning sideways to the camera doesn't really make me look any smaller...I really must give up that deluded strategy of trying to make myself more photogenic.)

The forest opened out into logged areas (not so picturesque, but the reality that is "State Forest") .. and after heading down one of the more major forest roads into the area, I was startled by a cow grazing in a cleared area. (And, you'd have to say, the cow was startled by me.) Next thing we'd startled a herd of them, who decided that we were there to herd them. So they set off at a canter down the road...

(Here's a close-up.)

Check the two *white cows* of the herd. (As oppposed to "black sheep"). Heh. Marc Joke, that one.

There were a few who were dragging the chain, and as they didn't know what to make of me as I stopped to take the picture above, they careered off into the bush to the other side of the road, and crashed their way through it, trying to join up with the rest of their mates, but unable to because of a fence.

A few hundred metres down the road, the whole herd hung a left, and trammelled through some foliage, and then up and around (somehow) a gate (maybe through a hole in the fence) and then they stood in the paddock looking back at us. It was hard not to think that they had maybe got out of there in the first place, and their guilty consciences sent them haring back there at the first sight of humans. Naughty cows!

About an hour from home. Looking back from where we'd come...

.. and ahead. About another hour till home, but the "worst" was over in terms of loose-gravelled (rocked) uphills or downhills.


Friday, March 14, 2008


Payback time.

Commonsense is prevailing. At last. I went even more stupid after having a whinge about being tired. You'd think I'd go to bed early after that wouldn't you? Of course I didn't! I turned the computer off, and then got myself watching some drama-based-on-true-story show about an IVF stuff up. It was very thought provoking. But - Hello 1am.


I was more sensible last night, but I was already well on the road to deciding that I needed to pay back the deficit in my sleep bank account, and that tomorrow morning was going to be the only chance. Oh yes. Decadent, no-alarm sleep in, here I come. (Yes, parents with littlies. I hear you. It's ok to be envious. I've been there and come out the other side. (Well, sort of.. we managed to rear some good sleepers, so I confess I never did it as hard as some of you do and did, so I suppose you can go ahead and just hate me anyway...)

Well, anyway, I nearly got talked into getting up in the dark again to go bike riding in the morning. But I talked him out of it with the temptation of a mountain bike ride in the afternoon instead. We have committed to leading a MTB ride at the end of June for the BUG (Bicycle User Group), and so we have to find time to decide on a route.

All sounds eminently sensible to me.

Meanwhile, I've been working on our next family venture. Easter. Camping I hope. Bushwalking. Spontaneously of course. Weather permitting. (Marc reckons it always rains at Easter...)

Seriously thinking of this place: Cathedral Rock National Park. We last went there in 2000, when the girls were much younger, as you can see (and very cute!)

Yes it was cold up there! I vaguely remember it being Anzac Day (25th April).. The older two don't remember it... My main memories are of being blocked up with either really bad hayfever or a shocker headcold... And of Zoe, in the backpack, crying when we were on the top of the rocks unless she was on Mummy's back!!

It is close enough for a day trip, but this time I'd like to camp and do the other walk to Woolpack Rocks as well.

Stay tuned.


Thursday, March 13, 2008


Looping the Lake - the photographic evidence.

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And you think we're crazy:

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Early mornings and big long bike rides...

.. make Trace a tired girl.

Totally self-inflicted of course, but F. I'm tired. Tired and lethargic. Normally it takes more than an 85km bike ride to knock me off my blogging, but I've been unaccountably too stuffed to come up with anything remotely blog-worthy this week - even to do some sort of recount of our ride. No amount of coffee consumed seems to have helped. And as for more 'worthy' pastimes that a SAHM should be doing? Apart from a few loads of washing... pffft....

So, yes, I guess.. the cause of all this... We went. We rode. We conquered. An 85 km ride that actually seemed to tally more on our various bike computers. The ride itself was no doddle - we rated it harder than the Sydney to Gong ride. While 'Loop the Lake', and 'riding around Lake Macquarie' conjures up images of a leisurely pedal around the edges of a lake - the reality took us out and around, and up and down, and up and bloody down... ie. it was fairly hilly. (And we actually didn't get to see that much lake.) For some reason there weren't that many rest stops - or if there were, noone was stopping at them, and so you felt this imperative to keep slogging away. They were supplying a light lunch at the finish - and even though we made that around 1.00pm, a bit of fuel half to two-thirds of the way through might have stoked the furnaces a bit.

The real culprit though has been too many early mornings! I'm not a natural at getting up before the sun, and this early rising lark for bike riding is starting to take its toll. After a 4 hour plus drive on Saturday afternoon, we were up by 4.55 so that we could dress, eat, and leave by 5.30 for the hour or so drive to the ride. (Estimated journey time was probably overestimated - should know that we never take as long as the mother-in-law's estimated driving time.) It only took us an hour, so we were there, and prepped to ride by 7.00.

Next morning we were up at 6.00, and dragging reluctant children up so that we could get back home by about lunchtime. (Then I did a one hour swimming squad... just to punish my body a bit more.)

I was looking forward to a relative sleep-in. School days we can afford to get up as late as 7.30. But Tuesday morning the phone woke me at 6am... one of the kid's friends who had been lined up to help with the paper run (usually done by the older two) because Cait was going to stay at a friend's place. Said friend had apparently turned up with her Dad in tow, to find the house in darkness. Thing is, the paper run is WEDNESDAY. Don't ask me how they got their wires crossed on that one.

This morning we set the alarm for 6.00 again, to make sure that Alison was able to get herself up. She was, but, as I discovered when I got up to go to the bathroom, and peeked out the window, the friend hadn't turned up, and because of daylight saving being extended this year, it's a bit dark and spooky now at 6.15 am, and she was too scared to do it by herself in the dark. I suggested she wait and start at 6.30 - which she did, but then only got 2/3 of the run done before having to get ready for school. (I finished it off for her...)

[A big WTF on the friend, who won't get asked again. They all had had a high school disco the night before, and apparently her mother had said she shouldn't get up early (again). Well, ok, but gee, thanks for letting us know!]

I know many people get up at sparrow's you-know-what on a regular basis, so I know I'm sounding like a complete wuss having a great big whinge here. Problem is I'm hard-wired as a night owl, and if I got myself into bed before 10.30 it's nothing short of a miracle, and I'd probably not fall asleep for an hour.

So, candles burning both ends perhaps?

And so, here's some pictorial proof of Sunday's early morning at any rate. I really really should head for bed now, so I'll upload some more photos of our riding tomorrow.


Thursday, March 06, 2008


It's a numbers game.

If you have more than one child, chances are that you've suffered the endless bickering about whose turn it is to sit where - particularly in the car. Chances are, anyway, that you remember the fights with your siblings! (Now you know what your parents went through, don't you!) And if your kids aren't yet out of baby seats or booster seats, then all I can say is enjoy the relative peace while it lasts... I have always said that as kids get older, some things do indeed improve -but all you do is move on to another "phase".

If you have more than one child, chances are that they fight about whose turn it is to do just about anything. In our house it's not only who gets to sit in the 'best seat available' in the car, but also on which seat round the dinner table. (Call us weird, but the only set spots are mine and the Daddy's. And you can call us slack parents, but the 'better' seats are rated according to best line of vision to the TV, and you can go bite your bum if you are going to lecture me about not having the TV on while eating dinner... What if I want to watch the news? Or whatever else is on?.... It's just the way it is here.. ok.)

It could be about who gets the sofa bed when they stay at Grandmas, or who has to about who has to have the first shower, and.. yes, well, any other thing you might imagine.

And it's enough to send a mother right up the wall, screaming as she goes. I know. I've been there.

I did try a few of the usual strategies. "Taking turns' involved far too much memory required on my part.. and nagging appeals about how long each 'turn' was, and stuff like how it was not fair because SHE got to go a LONG way yesterday, and this is only a SHORT trip today), or 'first in best dressed' - which is hardly fair given the age differences - we finally came up with a pretty much failsafe system, which also has the added advantage of making them do all the remembering, and some mental arithmetic to boot. Not that that was the major goal, but it has proved to be an added bonus, and it assuages some parental guilt when you get the "How to be a better parent" type tips in the school newsletter about how to incorporate the Three Rs into your everyday family life. I've never been a fan of deliberately being 'educational' at home - IMHO more often than not it just happens - so those tips actually annoy the hell out of me, but that's another rant for another day!

Anyway... this is how it goes:

They get a DATE each, on a rotational basis. Three kids, rotate through the calendar. Easiest way is that one gets the multiple of 3 date... and the other two are either side of it. ( This selection process is the hardest thing you'll have to do with it - the rest is plain sailing.)

When it's your day - by date - you get the first choice in ANYTHING that involves choice between siblings. Car seat. Dining room table seat. When to have your shower... whatever.

There are just a few rules to go with it.

  1. If you aren't around on your day, tough bickies. No rainchecks. Person whose day it is next gets the choice. Swings and roundabouts - another time someone else won't be around on their day.

  2. Mum or Dad have the ultimate right of veto, and if they decide someone has been really BAD, then they lose their day.

  3. On the 31st of the month, Mum gets to choose who gets it as their day. Usually the child who has pissed her off least in the past 24 hours.

  4. End of February, 29th and/or 3oth miss out? Tough.

  5. If it's your birthday it's your day. If your birthday happens to fall on your date, oh well, sorry, you don't get an extra day to make up.

  6. If you can't do the maths, then the other two have the right to NOT do the maths for you... Funnily enough this only seems to apply to the ELDEST who, while having the easiest maths to do - this year she got the 'multiple of three' dates - also seems to be constantly the vaguest on what date it is. The youngest two are right on top of it.

  7. If there is a seemingly onerous choice it works in reverse - eg. having to go up to have your shower first ( oh my god how awful is that!) then the person whose day it is LEAST has to go first, and then the next. Naturally if you actually WANT to have your shower first on any occasion, then you get to choose.

  8. It applies wherever you are. eg. it saves Grandma from having to make decisions about who sleeps where.

That pretty much covers it. I don't give out many parenting tips because I don't think I'm much of an expert in that department, and there's nothing worse than the 'parenting expert' is there!

But I reckon this one is worth filing away for future reference and experimentation, and adapting to your own circumstances. It has pretty much saved my sanity this past year.

Disclaimer: This strategy does NOT work once they are sitting in the car, and they are fighting over personal space, and "she TOUCHED ME" and "she HIT ME" and "her mp3 player is up too loud" etc etc.... If anyone has the solution to that, other than the van we used to have whereby they were separated by distance and a middle row of seats to put one of them in, then I'd love to know!


Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Synchronise your lives...NOW..

I don't know how I got through last year without this! A few weeks back I started up a Google calendar which is an online calendar - related to Google Docs. If you have a Google account, you can set one up.

It's set up to be shared, at the moment, with Marc and Cait. They can edit certain calendars, so that changes automatically show on everyone's calendar, and also have their own calendars, which they can opt to share with me.

In the name of colour coding, I have a 'Family' Calendar. A 'Tracey' calendar. A 'Netball' calendar (surprise, surprise). A 'School Stuff 'calendar. And a 'Marc' calendar. And a few of Cait's calendars, which I can turn on or off, or use as a resource for the calendars I control.

Now there are no excuses for not knowing what is happening - and trust me, that was becoming a problem.

Marc used to forget about keeping me up with changes in any work field trips.(Plus I was trying to get a grip on a couple of Touch tournaments he had coming up.) "Didn't I mention it?" ["No..."] .... Plus he'd not remember what I'd mentioned about family or school events, and next thing I know it's clashing, and I'm ... not very happy....

And Caitlin was complaining that she didn't know we were planning on doing this or that on certain weekends... and she.. wasn't very happy.

Now, any changes to work trips, he changes it while he is at work and it automatically shows next time I view it online. And he can work around anything specific scheduled for family...

My only complaint is that some days (on calendar view) aren't big enough for the list of appointments and events!

And I'm rather up the creek if our broadband connection, or the computer, is down.

But given our manic months ahead, this could well be the 'gadget' of the year for us.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


The calm before the storm.

This year - at least until July - feels like it is shaping up to be the craziest one yet. Although without a Big Ride this year, I have no idea why I am feeling this way. I mean, hell, we're only going away this weekend for a one-day ride, not a nine-day affair!

But right now it doesn't exactly feel "calm". The wind is picking up, and the storm clouds are building, and I have that eerie sense you get when you feel like it's going to be a big one. Batten down the hatches... the next three months are about to hit.

I blame the netball, of course. Without the netball it wouldn't be so manic.

This is what our timetable is looking like - and all I can say is thank heavens the rep netball finishes on the first weekend in July. I don't think it is something we could sustain all year.

Cait is playing rep netball in town. (Three times a week into town for training, club training and rep game, and then club game.) Her rep training has already been happening.

Ali is playing rep netball up here - and her rep training starts late - on the 17th. So she will then have two training sessions a week - rep and 'club' - and then she plays two games on the weekend.

They both have between 4 and 6 rep carnivals to go to on Sundays between now and State Age in July. Not all the same ones of course, seeing they are playing with different associations.

Marc is going to coach the 'club' team up here that Cait and Ali are playing in together. Cait is going to coach a junior team on another afternoon - so I need to be there as Parent supervisor/manager/communicator with the parents. That all starts next week.

Cait also still has a few more weeks of Touch to finish - which clashes with her netball on Wednesdays, so we have to balance that out and take turns - now that rep selections are over and she's in the team.

She is also going in the high school musical as a dancer (performance in May) so has rehearsals for that on Tuesday afternoons and Sundays which are going to clash a bit with the netball. (Means mum doing frantic taxi runs is what it means.)

Ali and Zoe still do swimming one afternoon a week. (I have to take Ali to a town nearly 2 hours away this Thursday for the high school Regional swimming carnival, and I'm being a horrible mother and hoping she doesn't get through to State... she really isn't a serious enough swimmer to go to State!!)

Zoe does a tennis lesson on Wednesday afternoons. And she will start junior netball - in the team that Cait is coaching - so this year for the first time she will have training one afternoon a week.

Last year Ali was doing flute and recorder through an extra-curricular class offered at primary school. To continue she has to go to band after school at high school, and I have no idea what I was doing when I convinced her to do it. With the recorder she has opted to go to the Opera House again this year for the Combined Schools Recorder Ensemble on the 10th June, so that will involve a few after school lessons.

Zoe is also doing recorder and flute at school, and is also going to the Operal House for the Recorder Ensemble.

Heaven help me, I think that is all... Now you know why I call myself crazy. All I can think is that it leaves them no time to get into trouble! ["That'll keep 'em off the streets" says Mum.]

In many ways it seems like TOO much - but somehow I suspect they'll still find the time to sit on the computer playing stupid games, or on inane chat on MSN.

If I survive, I'll see you out the other end... and with a bit of luck manage to post a few things in the midst of it all. I need my downtime of course!

Edited to add: I acquired the picture above a while back via the Australian movie 'Look Both Ways'. The movie uses animations painted by Director Sarah Watt.. and I think this picture was from them.. somehow.. can't remember where exactly I found it. It was a great movie by the way! Watching the trailers again makes me want to go find it and watch it again.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Looxury. YOU were lucky!

Jeanie's comment on my last post put me in mind of The Four Yorkshiremen, and I've often thought of finding it so that the girls could have a laugh. Here you go... vintage Monty Python. Well NO! Apparently it predates Monty Python!

This is the original. Enjoy!

And keep it in mind everytime you're tempted to tell your kids they have it good these days!

I'll amuse myself, courtesy of Jeanie, by imagining my kids in 30 years time telling their kids they are lucky because 'when WE were kids, our parents made us ride 50km on back of tandem bike so that we could ride even further on back of tandem bike t' next week. AND they made us pedal as well.'



The next adventure.

The next family adventure is nigh - next weekend in fact. We are heading off to loop a lake.


Specifically, we are going in the Loop the Lake event. It is an 85km bike ride around Lake Macquarie, which is basically a bloody big lake down near Newcastle. Which is not too far north of Sydney - depending I suppose on your definition of 'not too far.' (It is under two hours from Sydney these days, with the freeway - but more like 5 hours from here. We will drive down on Saturday to Marc's mum's place about an hour and a bit north of the start. I am trying not to think of the early start we'll have to have on Sunday morning!)

By 'we', I mean, as usual, all of us, on the triplet and tandem.

Well, it just seemed like another box to tick!

So a bit of last ditch training was in order this weekend, and so we headed off yesterday morning for a 50km + training ride. The route I chose encompassed parts of other local rides we have done, and all I can say is that I reckon we've done enough hill training.

Marc had, last week, replaced the chain rings on my tandem, because on recent rides I'd had a bit of trouble with what you call 'chain suck' - basically the chain jamming and falling off the smallest chain ring (and on one occasion actually breaking.) Which is slightly inconvenient, as you might imagine, as well as leading to a lot of undesirable language on my part.

Today Cait and I were pretty chuffed to be able to shift up and down with no dramas. (Well, I was doing the shifting, but she was also pretty happy we weren't jamming chains every few kms!)

The only downside of the ride (apart from the 'up' of the hills - and the wretched southerly headwind we rode into for around 30km) was that the triplet got a flat about 3 or so km from the end. We changed that, but then got another one just as we arrived back at the township where we'd left the car! (So an anticlimax to finish, as Marc and I continued the last kilometre on my tandem to collect the car, and then drove back to get the kids and the triplet.)

We were all a bit weary afterwards (and I wouldn't have minded another.. oh.. three hours sleep this morning!) but the 'why the hell do I do this?' factor was of course, as usual, fairly quickly replaced by a certain sense of achievement once we'd finished. [Some call it delusional. We call it 'The Retrospect'.]

Although Caitlin's "COOOOL!" just after we zoomed down, down, down at over 60 kph after a bloody long slog up, up, up, was worth bottling. As was her assertion that said slog up was worth it for that 'yee ha' downhill. Maybe we have our kids hooked on 'speed'.

Sometimes I wonder (and worry) about how much and why they enjoy these big rides that we do. Particularly when we drag them out 'for training'. (And for how much longer they will do so.) Perhaps it is, for them, also the sense of achievement afterwards. Cait does seem to enjoy being able to say nonchalantly to her friends 'We've just been on a 50km bike ride'. Though she backed up yesterday's ride with 2 hours of dance practice for the school musical, so she was theoretically more 'weary' last night than the rest of us.

Perhaps it is that more often than not when we do these rides, we buy them snacks that they wouldn't otherwise get! Yesterday we bought apple pies at a store 20km in to the ride, and then burgers and chips at the pub on the way back (with only 12 km to go.)

Maybe they enjoy (like I do) the smiles and reactions we elicit from people that we pass. While the tandem may or may not get noticed, it's pretty unusual not to get a double-take as the triplet whooshes by (and when Cait and I are riding behind, we get to see the responses. Parents pointing it out to their kids. Boys on bikes exclaiming and saying they want one. Older folk smiling broadly at the family out riding together.

Whatever it is, we'll enjoy it while it lasts.


Saturday, March 01, 2008


Temporary renovations

I'm throwing a bit of paint around here at the moment. I realise that some things still don't match, but I'll try and fix them tomorrow.

It's actually all a very temporary thing until I come up with an even better look and layout with the help of my 14 yr old graphic artist accomplice, and only because I didn't want to waste the banner she did for me! She's not really happy with it, and so we've found another blogger template and she's going to do all clever photoshoppy stuff with it, and hopefully I'll have a renovated blog look. Soonish.

I looked at transferring to wordpress, but, frankly, I got a bit kerflummoxed with all the the dos and don'ts.. I've thus decided to experiment with this other blogger layout, and, once that is sorted, with my own domain. I can't see myself getting important enough in the blogging world to be worried too much. And frankly, I should be putting my time into our actual house renovations! Or cleaning up this bloody house.

[If I could have figured out how the hell to stop the content sliding off to the left when the screen expands, I'd probably stick with what I have. I've compared and compared the relevant bits in the template code to a basic blogger template I've used elsewhere that stays centred, but I'm stuffed if I can figure it out. Bloody frustrating stuff...]

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