Wednesday, May 28, 2008


"If you don't know how to fix it...

.. don't break it"

From the mouths of babes. An address to the UN by one of the most eloquent 12 year olds I have ever heard. I challenge you to get through this without tearing up...

"At school even in kindergarten you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us to not fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy....then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?"


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


A chance to regroup and do the laundry.

We have a pretty busy schedule around here at the best of times - and particularly this time of year (I blame the netball, mostly) but it just peaked with a fairly crazy weekend that I'm basically just thankful to have negotiated and survived.

Cait was in the high school musical, and, in the lead up to the performances at the end of last week, CrazyMum's Transportation Service (& Centre for Logistical Planning) was put to the test, doing extra pick ups and drop offs as with rehearsals in between school and rep netball training commitments (which had to take priority.) Add in the other two kids and their stuff, and throw in also the car pooling factor- you couldn't do it all without sharing the load, but that requires organisational and communication skills as various parents try to figure out where they can or will be, whose turn it is, and what trips they can and can't do for which activity - and, well, you just about need a high powered computer to work it all out.

(Or my precious whiteboard on the fridge... where I triumphantly wipe off each particular event or car shuttle duty as it is 'remembered' and negotiated...)

My parents decided to come up from Sydney to see their granddaughter, seeing as she was turning 15 on Monday, and so timed it to see her dancing in the musical. The schedule was so manic there was no chance to even go out for a birthday dinner! I'm not quite sure what they made of it all, but, hey, that's what it all is around here, and they just had to go with the flow - and I had to incorporate them into the flow! (Which I think I managed ok...)

They arrived Friday night, made do with watching all three girls play netball on Saturday, then went to the musical on the Saturday night. They only stayed for two nights, and then had to let themselves out on Sunday morning, because we left at 6.20am to drive Cait to Taree to a rep netball carnival - 3 hours away!

(Are you still with me? But wait, there's more! Alison left for the same carnival the afternoon before, with her team - just one hour after finishing her netball game, and being raced home to have a quick shower. But being the wonderful parents we are, we elected to drive Cait (instead of her having to be up at 4am, after three nights of musical performances, to travel with her team) and get her there in time for the second game of the day. (They have to rotate off anyway... so we figured she could take first turn off. Nothing like organising the coach, huh.)

So have you done the maths? Six hours driving in one day for us to give her an extra hour and three-quarter's sleep?!!! Some might call that SPOILT. (Some might call it her birthday present!) Fortunately she seemed to appreciate it. (We also reminded her that she particularly owed her youngest sister who was heattbreakingly woken from a very peaceful slumber at 5.30 so as to be dragged along with the rest of the family...)

On Saturday Marc and I also did our early morning bike ride (70km) because we are nothing if not crazy- (so I'm doing this whole weekend madness on barely 6 hours sleep on Friday night?! OK, call me stupid, as well as crazy....) - and he went canoeing in between a netball-in-town drop off and pick up for Cait and teammate, because he is truly, truly crazy, and in training for this soon to be happening adventure racing weekend.

On Sunday night, on our way back from the netball carnival, we stopped off for dinner at a tavern bistro not far from home (and told Cait this was her birthday dinner out!). I was just a little miffed that at 7.45pm, when the girls ordered icecreams, I couldn't have a cappuccino because they had already shut the machine down!

On Monday morning, Marc looked a bit taken aback at the size of the washing pile that had accumulated! Oh my goodness, I hadn't washed in two days! What had I been doing?!! (And where on earth would it have come from - between five of us and all the stuff we'd been doing..?)

Now he is away Monday to Friday for work, missing Cait's actual birthday evening yesterday, and OUR wedding anniversary today. (19 years, thank you very much! -but it's ok, as you know, we don't go overboard on the celebratory stuff, and he's been further away (like overseas, and for longer) over these dates before, so I am not slitting my wrists over it... just milking it a bit!!)

And so our girl is FIFTEEN! Which is worth a blog post of its own, but one I shall tackle later in the week, because, despite this being the week after The Week Before, my whiteboard is beginning to fill up again with a whole new MUST DO list (that includes sewing stuff) because things are hotting up again shortly for another BIG week either side of, and over, the long weekend in June.

(And there is a mess in the kitchen left over from trying to make Ms 15's birthday just a little bit special. I suppose I should deal with it sometime today.)

I can't help thinking that if I was trying to work on top of all this, I think my head just may have exploded by now. How do all these other working mums do it?



Friday, May 23, 2008


A timely warning?

A friend sent on one of these email fwds that she thought might be applicable to both of us...

Gee, thanks, R !!!

"My Living Will"

Last night, my friend and I were sitting in the living room and I said to her, 'I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.'

She got up, unplugged the Computer, and threw out my wine.

She's such a bitch.....


Thursday, May 22, 2008


Nose stuck in a book.

This is my youngest. And, yes, she's always got her nose stuck in a book.

(This is one of a series of photos Cait has taken for a school photography competition... I'll share the rest with you later once she has decided on them all...
I loved this one so much, it is now my desktop wallpaper.. much to the subject's discombobulation!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Seize the day.

Or Carpe Diem as they say in some circles.

These days we are actually more likely to do a "Seize the day, Harvie", in a booming Statue voice from the film.... how can you not take off Kamahl's voice?! (I wonder if that line has become commonplace outside of Australia, or have we claimed it simply because an Aussie won an Oscar for this quirky little short film..)

Whatever, it would be true to saythat this has become our motto in life - and furthermore an excuse to choose between the things we do and don't enjoy doing. Translation: not much has been happening around here on the household front - indoors, outdoors, or doing anything about the renovations. Instead we are filling our weekends and holidays with- and spending our money on - a range of .. activities... that some might consider slightly batty.

The house may be falling down around our ears, but subconsciously - nay, even consciously - we're working on the assumption that we should strike while the iron is hot... do stuff while we still can. If something "not good" happened to us - in a 'you just don't know what's round the corner' sense, then we *think* that we (or others in the family) would care more about the experiences and challenges that we have shared than living in a house worthy of a House & Garden feature.

So Marc is obsessing with training up for this Geoquest 48 hour adventure racing weekend (and getting fitter and trimmer by the minute, damn him)... Perhaps I am a bit envious that he has this immediate focus and drive which is managing to take priority in the 'free time' that he has.

But on the family front, I've made accommodation bookings so that we can take the kids cross country skiing in July. (We made the decision on this a few days after a local dad died suddenly at age 50... reality check - if you put things off, you might never get to do them...)

And last night we committed to a weekend for the two of us in Melbourne in October.

Now before you think 'ahhh, romantic getaway... how sweeeet...', think again (or browse my blog - or even just the paragraphs above). And if you guessed 'oh probably something to do with cycling some crazy distance, the mad buggers' you would be right.

We are going to go in the 'Around the Bay in a Day' on our tandem. A mere 210km in one day - but with a rest on the ferry in the middle!! (We're leaving something to aim for with the 250km option - for another year!)

The crazy part about it is that we won't be alone. There will be a few thousand other cyclists doing it too; in fact the 250km, and the 210km going the other way round the bay are already booked out!

Part of the challenge will be taking the tandem on the plane! And then it'll have to be maxi-taxi from the airport. The other week I missed some cheap promo fares for the Sydney/Melbourne flights; Murphy's Law will likely prevail - as soon as I buy them at $115 they'll bung on another $89 promo, but if I don't they won't, or worse, sell out. And then, it's the hotel vs the impose on friends question (an old school chum of Marc's lives pretty close to the city, BUT, it doesn't feel right to have to leave someone's house at 5am or earlier, and then collapse, unsociably exhausted into a spare bed instead of using the opportunity to actually catch up on each others' lives. Romance may not get a look in, but lashing out on a hotel does sound appealing.)

The weekend before that, it's the 100km Brisbane to Gold Coast ride, which we are talking about doing with the kids...

And of course there's also the 100 mile ride - in August this year....

All of which appear easier, in my mind, than the task of cleaning up the house today and tomorrow before my parents arrive for a two-night visit!!

Go figure.


Monday, May 19, 2008


Keeping it real.

Or: "I told you I can't do stupid role play scenarios."

Wondering why I haven't posted for a week?** I've just been doing the Stress Thing. As in Irrational Anxiety Attack - come on DOWN!

What about? About a stupid course. A course that meant nothing in the scheme of things. There was no pass or fail. Just turn up and supposedly learn stuff. That's all. Easy peasy.

To most normal people.

One week and one day before this Ride Leader Training course, we were emailed all this reading material, and the course outline. And it was apparent that the 'course' day was really more an 'assessment' day. Barely an hour of actual course time! We were to plan a ride route, based on the material in the 20 page guidelines we were sent. And be assessed on it. And on the day we would be taken around a short ride route, and then we'd have to 'lead' a group of volunteer riders around that ride route. And be assessed on it.

A group of volunteer riders would be prepped to act out a range of things that can and do 'go wrong' on rides. And you had to roll up, and play pretendsies at being the leader; do pre-ride briefing.. and briefings at each regrouping point as you rode around this 3 km course. During this time you would have to act out dealing with the varied pretend scenarios the actor/riders were going to present. Every possible thing they could think of that could go wrong on a ride. (People falling off bikes, getting chest pains on hills, going the wrong way, riding ahead... you name it...)

Well. I stressed about it. BIG TIME. I have developed, over the years, what you'd have to call a verging-on pathological neurosis about role playing - or hypotheticals. (I don't even have to be in front of a group of people - I once flipped out over an online computer course I started to do, because I had to pretend I was advising on computers to buy for some fictitious school.. and I couldn't do it. Because it wasn't real. I couldn't bring myself to pretend or imagine or assume all these fictitious details!)

Various people, but particularly Marc, talked soothing logic to me - even up to when we were lying in bed at 11pm the night before! (that was Marc, not the various people)- and told me it wasn't really that hard, and I was as smart or smarter than most of the people doing it, and it wasn't rocket science, and it didn't really MATTER anyway. What did I have to lose? Nothing! (Plus the classic role model for the kids thing - about giving things a go, doing your best, facing your demons. Yadda, yadda...)

So, that prevented me from pulling out of the bloody thing beforehand.... and so, despite my misgivings, I turned up on the day.

And then the whole role playing thing threw me completely. You see, if I was going to lead a ride, I would pre-arrange one or two support riders that I could trust to be riding with me. One to be the sweep rider, and quite possibly one to lead off, because I know that I am a hill slug. So my M.O. would be to ride in the middle - keeping an eye on things...

I questioned the course leaders on this, but because I was the third cab off the rank to do the scenario, I couldn't use one of the other riders doing the course with me. (Not until they'd done it.) I had to turn up and use whoever was in the volunteer group - ask one of them to be the sweep rider - and "make assumptions" that they would do it right - whatever the hell that meant.

So this threw me already. I wasn't happy about it, because already it was a totally unrealistic situation for me. And the situation was already in role-reversal, because the volunteer riders were there 'controlling' the situation from the start. They had already ridden the route more times than me, and they were there ready to wreak havoc if they could! (Which is not how a normal ride would be!!)

And then one of the volunteers riders (from BNSW - Bicycle NSW - there were five people from BNSW here to run or to help with this course - ever heard the term "junket"?!) - says "I'll be sweep rider."

And I wasn't happy about that, because I didn't know him from a bar of soap, and so I didn't want him to be sweep rider... yet he insisted again... and, while it pissed me off, I wasn't strong enough to know how to deal with it. The assessor invited me to start, and when I went to start with the pretendsies situation - the "HI! I'm Tracey, and I'm going to be your rider leader for today..." it all welled up inside me, and I felt like I was going to burst into tears.

And I just blurted out "I can't do this."

What do you call that? (Apart from pathetic.) Choking? Stage fright?.... Anxiety attack?

I couldn't even start... and I knew that I'd be totally shit at acting out dealing with people pretending to fall off bikes, and have heart attacks, and do the wrong thing... all in the space of 3 km.

Luckily one of the women doing the course with me (and I consider her a friend) is already a qualified trainer/assessor, and they asked her to talk to me. (Seems I'd thrown THEM a situation they didn't know how to deal with!!)

She was wonderful. Called it a classic case of stage fright. Had seen it before. Suggested some options... trying it again later if I wanted - by then she'd have done hers, so would be available to be sweep rider. Or she could 'assess' me later on a real ride. She deflected the guy who had wanted us to do the course in the first place, and who kept on, unhelpfully, telling me I could do it, he had "faith in me.".

I decided not to do it. I know it would have been 'facing my fears'... but I was (and still am) too much of a mixture of upset and angry - and I didn't want to be given any favours. Either way. Plus, I never wanted to be "assessed" in the first place.

So I am angry that I'd let other people convince me that I could/should do this.. when I knew deep down that I didn't want to. I was doing the course to please others... not myself. Did I really want to be a ride leader anyway? Not really - I am really much happier being 2IC. Was a contrived scenario, based on my ability to act, going to prove I could lead a ride? I don't really know. It seems to be the latest trend; even if you go for a job stacking shelves in a supermarket! - which looks to make me pretty well unemployable then.

I might change my mind, but right now my stance is 'well, congratulations... what this course achieved for me is that I am now ruling myself out of leading any rides.' After all, if I can't face up to a role-play scenario, then I quite possibly can't handle any real life crises that might occur. While they said there was no passing or failing, a 'didn't even do' is a fail in my book.

Personally I think that there are other better ways for people to 'train up' as ride leaders. Be a support rider... and then when you do feel ready to lead a ride, then do so with the more experienced leader as back-up. Sounds logical to me.. but the whole competency/training scene these days is role playing.

And what did we actually learn on the day? Not that much, really. We 'discussed' three case studies of rides where things went wrong. (One of them I did say "Well, frankly, I wouldn't be leading a BUG ride on a wineries tour anyway, because duh! - with unknown participants you're asking to get idiots who want to get drunk!)

I prepared part of a ride route beforehand, with map and cue sheet, as per the guidelines in the reading material sent to us. I opted to be "assessed" for that, even though I had decided the whole "assessment" thing was a w*nk anyway. [Riding around doing that on the Wednesday and Friday last week trying to do that was time consuming. (And on Friday I got a flat tyre - which was good from the point of view of being able to practise changing it by myself without people standing over me - but it left me slightly more stressed and exhausted and with a sore lower back!!)]

So I passed the route planning! WHATEVER!! I didn't really care.. it meant nothing to me. The feedback on what I'd done was fine. "Yep, that's the way to do a cue sheet." But a tick and signature?! Wtf....

So there you are. I guess normal blogging transmission may resume once I've got myself over this little bout of neurosis (which may or may not coincide with the consumption of the rest of the packet of chocolate mint slices that I bought yesterday.)


** Oh, so you didn't miss me? Well, couldn't you just pretend that you did?


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Sunday, May 11, 2008


It's the experience that counts.

This might be a Mothers Day post, but for the record, I'm a Mother's Day rebel. I just can't get into the whole 'gimme gimme presents' thing for a commercially driven day. So there'll be no "I got this" or "I got that" around here.

Why? I don't know, really. I struggle to conform to quite a few of the usual social celebratory conventions. Marc and I tend to buy ourselves 'stuff' when we want (or need) - and so I consider that I am really quite spoilt enough throughout the year.

I am also not into much that is typical of the usual Mother's Day fare. Cut flowers. (Don't ask me to spell chrysanthe-thingy-mums, but especially not those.) Perfume. Fluffy slippers. Smelly bath stuff. Blah. Call me weird, but I'm not into any of it. No, I am not a typical woman. I've trained the kids not to buy me stuff from the school mothers day stalls, because none of it is "me". And I don't want them to waste money on cheap crap that I don't like.

I've never found the idea of breakfast in bed appealing either. What's with that idea anyway? Sitting up in bed trying to eat without spilling food on the sheets is not my idea of a comfortable meal.

I suppose I'd rather any tokens of appreciation from my children be more spontaneous, and not dictated to happen on one day in a year. So I cut off my nose to spite my face and say 'I'm just not into Mothers Day'.

(That said, the only piece of jewellery that I wear is the 'mum' pendant they secretly got me for mothers day a couple of years ago. I think it is more special to me because it is a one-off, and not the sort of thing I expect to get every mothers day.)

But still... when it transpired that the Daddy was going to Brisbane to participate in some mad 8 hour adventure race today I was slightly, and ever so hypocritically miffed. At one point earlier in the week I did consider the option of us all going up there with him - but laziness, sanity, and the whole concept of not having to get up early on Mothers Day, prevailed. Hypocrisy? Yes. I do it well. (And I didn't waste the opportunity to milk it for all it's worth?)

I knew however that I would not be a happy mummy if we just did our normal Sloth thing on a weekend day that (rarely) wasn't going to involve racing out to some prearranged sporting event. So I booked a table for four at a fancyish cafe overlooking the beach at the next village down from us, and decided that My Girls and I would walk there and back down the beach, and we would Do Brunch.

So we did. With a 10.30 booking, it turned out to be a rather late breakfast - and because we were full as googs after that, we didn't need lunch, and so late afternoon the energy levels took a dive because we only ended up having two meals in the day! Not so sensible, and not such a productive day in the long run.

But it felt great to be able to walk there. And what a walk!

Photos, please.
(#1 now fancies herself as the family photographer, so unfortunately none of her... a shame because she is as photogenic as her sisters.)

"Don't take it into the sun! ... " "Shut up, Mum, I'm being artistic."

Banana smoothie! Nom, nom, nom!

And I had time to soak up the gift that is our three girls, along with just how lucky we are to live where we do.

I am one lucky mum.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Thou shalt not lose weight by exercise alone.

Translation: You are what you eat, dummy. Watch the calories. And stop stuffing your face with cake and chocolate and icecreams and easy meals like meat pies!

Call me crazy, but I really, really thought I could get away with losing a few kilos without depriving myself of my comfort food IF I did a lot of exercise.

Well, duh, woman. That's not how it works. Not for most of us "blessed" with a certain metabolism anyway.

Having just watched The Biggest Loser (Aust) where they lose all that weight by training nearly full time, and totally changing their diet - it should be obvious, even if I didn't know it all already - that you actually have to watch what you put in your mouth as well! You know, both those girls in the final now weigh less than me! - though I must confess that I now think that at the finale, sweet mum of three, Alison (at 10 yrs younger than me), now looks gaunt in the face, and older than me! (She looked better about 10 kilos ago IMHO!! Plus! Size 10 dress?! I hate you!!)

My husband couldn't believe I'd "stooped" to watching a reality show, but despite the stupid parts about it, with the eliminations, and stupid competitions and all that crap, I couldn't help watching because I am inspired by the changes people can make to their lives. Given I have a lot of the stuff they do covered - oh how I would have loved to do that Hawaii challenge! - how easy should it be for me to lose just a few kgs over a longer time frame?... Seriously?!

Well, I must be some kind of stupid to think that I could lose weight without making some changes on the energy intake. Even if I only want to lose 5-10 kilos, as opposed to 50!

Meanwhile, though, the husband has been just casually ditching the kilos. (And looking trimmer, tauter and more terrific I might add.) Not fair! I cried as he hopped off the scales last night. (If this trend keeps going he will be down to my weight!)

"Well, I have changed my diet a bit." he said. "I haven't been ordering chips with lunch at work anymore"

"A bit?!! Well, I've cut right down on the beers and wine!" (I have a quite few nights a week now without any, yet he'll still have a couple every night..)

"But you and chocolate? And cake?..." he reminded me.

Grrrr. Just because he doesn't NEED comfort food. Does he ever feel down and reach for chocolate? No!! Sweet tooth? He hasn't got one. (And is he at home all day staring at the cake one of the kids made?! - Who said Temptation in TBL is unrealistic?! only in the real world, the "prize" is getting through the next hour. )

But, oh wait.. he's stopped drinking full strength beer now too! Well, I stopped drinking full strength beer ages ago, and it didn't make a single bit of difference to anything but my head.

To be fair, yes, he's been doing more exercise too (he's got up the last few Wednesdays, gone into town and ridden 50 odd kms in a road training cycling group.) But a 'few less' beers and chippies, and the kilos just evaporate from him. (Osmosis - they are probably transferring over to me!) I've also been doing more exercise than ever before, and I cut down big time on the alcohol, and... no change. If anything I've gone up a bit.

This has been my last few days:

Wednesday- a 50 minute walk.

Thursday - 54 km bike ride - on my own bike - probably 25km of it riding at a pretty steady pace by myself, the rest admittedly a more social ride)

Friday - 1 hour swim squad. (Maybe 2km of swimming, and some sprints in which I got heart rate up to 180...)

Saturday morning - 67km bike ride - on the tandem - average speed 31kph!

Saturday afternoon - (after racing out with kids to netball) - 3.7km paddle in kayak race, not slacking. (33 minutes).

(Plus last weekend a 20km bike ride one day and a 75km one the other!!)

Reasonably impressive exercise diary, no?

Do I want to detail a food diary here though? No.
Should I? Maybe.
But do I want to confess what I shovel into my mouth after intense bouts of exercise where my body is screaming - "Energy! Sugar! Carbs! NOW!" ? Never mind the snacks the other times.


Perhaps I should. It might make me more accountable.


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