Thursday, 25 July 2013

The midweek roast and other urban myths

My roast was lamb, and my gravy was better.  And there were no chips.  But you get the idea. 
Sometimes when you take on a new or unusual challenge, you are rewarded mightily.  You learn a new skill, find a new strength, impress yourself, maybe even impress others.

And other times, you completely cock it up.

Last night I failed.  I failed at a dinner I've heard of only by hearsay.  A meal that excellent housewives cook for their husbands, so naturally I've never done it before.

It's the midweek roast.  Refusing to be confined by the normal Sunday lunch or dinner traditions of this meal, the MR can pop up on any normal week night, breaking through the boundaries and throwing off the relentless drudgery of after school activities, car pooling and play dates which should put paid to this type of crazy dinnertime aspiration.

In other words, it's a stupid idea that's far more trouble than it's worth.  If you even have even the inkling of a midweek roast, slap yourself and make spag bol instead.

The reason I even thought of it?  Well, I have a roast starved husband, who loves nothing more than a big hunk of dead meat surrounded by veges cooked in duck fat.  He enjoys a Sunday roast at least once a month in the Winter.  However, I have not been feeling roasty in our upstairs situation, even though we have a respectable oven.

To be honest, in my current state I've been feeling mostly beans on toasty every nighty.

But I had a Wednesday free of swimming obligations, I wanted to surprise Mike.  So I planned a roast.  A fucking lamb roast.  On a fucking Wednesday.

Yep.  It ended badly.  Because life automatically punishes ANYONE who thinks about making a midweek roast.  What a wanker I was to even contemplate such a goal.

Mostly on Wednesdays we're home after 6:30 because of swimming.  Mostly dinner is sushi purchased earlier in the day.  But I was drunk with freedom.  Someone else was taking the kids swimming!  I had all that time! I could put the roast in, coat it in a bit of dijon, bit of rosemary, garlic of course, par boil the veg, pop them in too, turn them lovingly, rest the roast, crisp the veg and conjure up a delightful gravy.

Actually, when we do roasts (proper like on a Sunday), I put the roast in, par boil the veg and stick them in the oven and lose interest.  Mike does the rest.  But he wasn't there because IT WAS MIDWEEK and he was at work.  I had to do EVERYTHING.

And sadly, at about 5pm, he rang me with the chilling news that something totally awful had blown up at work.

He wasn't going to make it home.  For dinner.  And he couldn't take over the troops while I went to book club.  Oh yes, lets just add into the mix. It was my book club night. And no normal book club.  Oh no...

Tonight, the book's AUTHOR was coming to talk to us.

And I had a roast in the oven.  Instead of sushi in the fridge.  Because I am an idiot who should have a Doctorate in Biting Off More Than I Can Chew.

After 8 frantic and futile texts to potential babysitters, I rang the hostess and begged her to switch to our house (when I say house, I mean stupid top floor flat).  When she agreed I drove to her house, grabbed the nibbles and wine she'd prepared for the night, including an ultra special cake she had baked, that related to the book we'd read. Between us, we sent out texts letting everyone know the new location.

At home I threw all the mess into the study/playroom/tvroom/storageroom, rested the roast and made the gravy.

You see, I couldn't turn back now, I'd gone too far.  Bookclub was coming, the roast was cooked and the kids would be hungry.  I had to feed them something, even though I felt like tossing the whole high maintenance nightmare into the bin.

That roast added 500 x stress to what was already a stressful situation.

But they came home and I fed them. The children that is.

And the bookclub girls, the darlings they are, all arrived on time, at the new location, in good spirits.

And the author, the incomparable Kate Forsyth, was sensational and blew our tiny little minds.  I can't even begin to tell you how great she was.  I might just save it for another blog :).

Mike arrived home at 1am, warmed up his ice cold din dins, came to bed and left the house just 5.5 hours later.

In overdoing it, Mike and I should both have Doctorates.   You couldn't pay me enough to ever contemplate a MR ever, ever again.


PS.  I have used capitals quite a bit during the writing of this post.  I do not apologies.  This is a subject I feel very strongly about.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Belated posting due to lack of mental fortitude.

I haven't posted for a week.  What a shocker.

There is too much happening in our lives.  It's term 3 again.  I wrote a post about term 3 last year.  I feel exactly the same this year.  Overwhelmed.  Very end of tethery.  Pulled in too many directions.

On the upside, it's nice to refer to something I wrote a year ago.  It means this blog's been going for a while.  Way back in 2012 I was worried about stuffing up the gymnastics car pool.

At least, this time last year, I had a gymnastics car pool.  Today, as it stands, I have none.  Actually I still have one, sort of.  But only on one day.  Which leaves me three trips out of four per week.

On the upside, at least I don't have to remember whose turn it is.

Because it's always mine.

My poor little girl cried and cried when she realised her gym friend wasn't going anymore.  She was shattered.  But once she stopped crying, she determined to keep on gymming.  Bless her.

And she was netballer of the week.  And they're going into the finals (proudness). 
This week I'm at the receiving end of some very kind child transporting and caring activities which I am exceedingly grateful for.  One friend has convinced me it would do her a favour if she took my three kids to swimming for me because she has a knitting deadline.   She has one child at a lesson.  I have three.  She'll take them all and bring them all home.  I am grateful for ever and I hope she knits herself silly.

Issy is being taken to dance every week by the kindest of friends whose reno has progressed so far she has moved into her folks house.  So she has to go to dance anyway because it's a bit of a drive to the folks.  She's taking Issy for me too.  I love her.  Actually I love her anyway.

See?  Why am I grumpy?  Why do I lack energy?  When I have friends like this? I am a curmudgeon.

I could still be recovering from last Saturday, when we had three games of sport, a trip to the airport, one party, one planned playdate and an impromptu one.

I know this is fairly normal Saturday behaviour and everyone does it.  But I think we are all going to run out of energy if we keep this caper up.  I for one, am running out of oomph.

Bushwalkers in full adventure mode.  Fighting trolls or orcs or something. 
Nothing to add.  
On Sunday things calmed down.  We had two things on.  Just two.  Yum Cha and a bush walk.  It was so much better.  I made the kids walk from Castle Rock to Cold Rock.  7.29km.

A bit of two wheeled assistance for the pocket rocket so she can make it to her ice-cream.  
I think it might be the time of year.  It's dark, it's cold, it's all a bit hard slog.

On the upside, I have quite a bit of work on, which is wonderful.  I just need to do it.  And I need to take it seriously and stop doing the fecking washing instead.

I need to do lists, daily plans, pomodoro technique, I need it all.  Tomorrow I'm going to try working in a cafe to see if it makes me more productive.  With no internet access.

It might also be a bit quieter.  Listening to the builders listen to Triple J has taken me back to my wild crazy and somewhat awkward youth, which is not always a good thing.  And of course there's the noise.

Speaking of noise, today's noise was brought to us by the gyprock sander.  Which was attached to a vaccuum cleaner.  So there was NO dust. Well hardly any.  Amazing.

And then tonight, one of the kids left a washing in the sink and the tap running.  Cue over flowing sink, soaking wet floor, leaking running down into newly gyprocked ceiling.  Unknown damage to tell builder about tomorrow and then tell husband when he returns from business trip.  Eeek!
The new living room.  With sanded gyprock.  Just waiting for a Jasper Lounge .
Wish me luck with the water thing, the cafe thing, the dust thing and the car pool thing.  I need all the help I can get. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Various strange bits and pieces of life.

1. Today when I made my daily visit to the IGA (cauliflower, mushrooms, yoghurt, milk, Coke Zero), I noticed that you could purchase covers for cigarette packets.  You can't see the packets of ciggers themselves because they are locked behind concealing doors, but when you do see inside the cupboard it's pretty awful.

But hanging from the outside of the cabinet are these simple cardboard covers.  For 90c you can buy one for your cigarette packet.  Slide it over the box, and the horrendous picture vanishes.

90c.  Think of all the cost, the studies, the testing, the advertising, the committees to finally get those pictures on the packets.

And in the news last week, the UK has delayed it's plans to put pictures on their cigarette packets because they're waiting to see how it goes in Australia.

Possibly not so well if you can just buy a cover for less than $1.  If I still smoked I would.

After this, I think I might have seen everything.

2. Tonight we have no front door.  At no point of the reno have we looked more like a derelict house.  Just in time for the Coles Delivery to arrive tomorrow afternoon.  According to Chad our legend foreman, we should have a new front door by the time Coles is due but it depends on whether the mortar he's put around the new expanded door hole goes off or not.

Apparently we want it to go off.  It's the opposite of milk.  Once it goes off he can put the new door in, or something.

The back (and only) door to our house.  At least it now has glass.
3. Tomorrow school goes back.  I can now stop not getting any work done.  Or at least, I lose another excuse.  I have lots to do, and tight deadlines so there is no room for stuffing around and lack of confidence related procrastination.

It will be nice not to have Issy ask for food every ten minutes.  Although I'll probably miss her.  Which is just ridiculous.  I need to get a grip.

4. Today in the car the kids wanted me to speak another language.  So I sang the line from the French song:

"Voulez-vous cushe avec moi c'est soir".

Then I taught them how to sing it.  They asked what it meant.  So I said it's like when you ask for a sleepover.   If you see my children and they are singing this, please back me up.  And please forgive me if they teach it to yours.

So much for being culturally diverse.   I should have just taught them Frere Jacques.  Far out.

Cup song experts.
5. Speaking of singing, while in Bali we mastered the 'Cup Song' from Pitch Perfect.  Sarah and I can do the cup bit and sing (pretty much), Josh can do the cup bit and Issy just sings.

Mike goes into a different room.

We are very proud of our achievement and also pleased that we made such fabulous use of our spare time in Bali.  Luckily we were on holiday with a talented and highly qualified musical expert/genius who spent most of an afternoon teaching us all.

6. And finally.  I made cauliflower rice.  I minced up my cauli, fried it gently in a bit of spray oil and garlic and put it with my dinner and Mike's instead of rice.

And felt very virtuous.  You know, no carbs after 4pm and all.

Then I finished off the Maltesers from last night.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Good

So...Mike is doing Oxfam on Friday 23 August.  100km hard slog largely through the beautiful and rugged National Parks that surround Sydney.  In fact they don't just surround Sydney, they insinuate themselves all the way into it's inner reaches.  We are 10km from the city and 500m from National Park.

He is in a team of four, and they have been training quite a bit.  Sort of...maybe not so much.

He had planned a walk today but for various reasons none of his team mates could join him.  He wanted to attempt two sections of the track he has not previously tried.  He printed out the related maps and instructions.

Only problem is, he's not great with directions.  He's quite crap really.  Bless him.

He is so happy.  But he can't read a map.  
Mike is a smart guy.  In some areas he is so smart it is frightening.  But he cannot read a map to save himself.

It was just gorgeous.  
If he went alone, he would get lost for sure.  We'd be sending out the choppers before sunset.  Plus he would be lonely without me.

I couldn't let this happen so I decided to go with him.  Because I am a good wife.  And very supportive.

Now the farming out of three children on a Sunday, for six hours with less than 24 hours notice is no mean feat.  It's a delicate balance of favour asking, child matching and compatibility, not over staying our welcome, knowing ways we can help them in the future, past events, future possibilities, cosmic and planetary alignments.

And despite this, the divine people who took Issy off our hands for six hours we already owed big time child care debt to.  I think we're talking about 6 playdates and a sleepover to even begin to bring the ledger back into balance.

The older kids were sent together to my great friend G who has 2 matching children.  We alleviated some of our guilt by taking her son to the Reds vs Waratahs game and march past at Homebush last night.

When I say we, I mean Mike.  I stayed home and watched the first few episodes of 'The Time Of Our Lives' on ABC iview.  I am now dead keen to watch the next episode.

So this morning we jumped up, farmed off, and feeling simultaneously guilty and grateful we implemented our grand master plan for world domination.

After parking near Roseville Bridge we attempted to flag a cab to take us to St Ives Showground and nearly caused an accident as the driver tried to stop for us in a completely illegal spot.  He gave up before we could get to him and drove off.

We kept on going up the hill, trying to flag down the odd cab who were all either occupied or in the wrong lane, we were feeling pretty despondent until a beep from the other direction startled us, and our original cab driver waved and beeped and pointed at a nearby bus shelter.

His message was clear.  Stay put and I'll get you.  $35 later and we were at St Ives Showground.

The Showground was a terrifying hotbed of equestrian activity.  Horse floats, expensive 4WD's and enormous semi trailers chocka block outfitted with horse float bits, bunk beds and who knows what else.  (I suspect gourmet kitchens and jacuzzis)

Everyone except us was wearing jodphurs, expensive boots and pristine white shirts.   Young girls were on horses and ponies, going over jumps in a equestrian ring, their Mums, dressed identically, strode around watching, and shouting a bit.

We had a good view of the equestrian ring because we got lost for the first 15 minutes and had to walk past it three times.

As we walked, we vowed that Sarah shall never see this sight.  Because she is still in her horse phase and we can't afford it.

When we did find the right trail, we met three other walkers, who told us there was a locked gate ahead and they'd had to turn around.  We ploughed on, and didn't let a little thing like a 6 foot tall locked gate get in our way, Mike climbed over and I wriggled under.

Because we are adventurous.

We walked and talked and wrangled pleasantly over directional ambiguities.  It was like a date night but during the day.  And very active.  It was steep and rugged for long periods, with occasional easy bits.

After 22km, I hurt all over.  But not as much as Mike who kept going after we got to Davidson Park and did another 12km home reaching a total of about 38km.  While he slogged on, I returned to the car and retrieved our offspring from those kindest of friends.

As I staggered walked across the Roseville Bridge I noticed the amazing contrast between the view on my left and on my right.  To my right, the beautiful mangrovey foresty watery view, and to my left, just cars, going really fast.  


And finally, seeing as I had done all that walking, I thought it was best if I ate most of a family pack of Maltesers on the couch.

All that good work, gone in one quick chocolate frenzy.  Damn.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

What we pass on to our kids: Guilt 101

Not our glasses.  Yet.  

School holidays give you time to catch up on the more admin side of child rearing.  

Because it's not enough to feed, clothe, shelter and love them, you must also maintain children regularly, rather like a car.  

This means frequent visits to optometrists, dentists, physiotherapists etc etc.  Along with associated exorbitant costs and related miserly private health fund rebates.  

Today we went to the hairdresser and the optometrist.  The optometrist was for Sarah.  She should have gone in January.  Cue guilt.  

Now I have a bit of a history with optometrists.  Because I have (had) shit eyesight.  I first started wearing glasses when I was 10 (Sarah's age now) and by the time my eyes had finished growing (or shrinking) I was -6.50 in one eye and -6.75 in the other.  

To give you an idea of how crap my eyesight was, imagine waking up in the middle of the night and having to put on your glasses to see the time on the clock radio on your BEDSIDE TABLE.  

Yep.  Really blind.  

I had the laser operation when I was 27, and I've never looked back (pun fully intended).  I've had fabulous eyesight for nearly 15 years.  But I still remember years of coke bottle thick glasses, frames of extreme dagginess, problems with contact lenses and not being able to move unless I had glasses on.  

It totally sucked.  

Now my beautiful girl needs glasses.  She first had to wear them a year ago for reading but now she's veering back towards myopia (short sighted), just like her parents.  The optometrist (Emily) we saw today said she will most likely need glasses for long distances but was looking more likely to end up with a lower prescription like her Dad (-2.25) than me.  


I'm sure Emily knows what she's talking about.  Even though she only looks about 21.  I'm sure she's qualified and all.  

And the frames Sarah has chosen are totally ultra funky.  She looks gorgeous in them.  

I asked Emily the youthful specialist about kids wearing contact lenses.  She said because most kids weren't terribly good at taking care of contact lenses usually 16 was the earliest they prescribed them, except for sport.  Having had conjunctivitis when I was 14 due to keeping contacts in for weeks at a time, I could sympathise. 

Outside I was calm, asking practical questions, nodding and smiling.  Inside I was screaming. What have I done?  Passed on my faulty genetic structure to these most beloved of people who I wouldn't hurt for the world.  WHAT have I DONE???

I know there's nothing I can do about this.  Sarah (and potentially Josh and Issy) are genetically predisposed to have poor eyesight.  And maybe I just need to give them the self confidence to deal with it.  Something I didn't have a great deal of during my formative years.  

And if dodgy eyes aren't enough, there's teeth too.  Sarah already has an overbite and next month we will drop a bomb at the orthodontist to begin her treatment for this.  I had horrendous buck teeth as a kid.  (Yes I was the coke bottle glasses wearing, buck teethed nerdy nightmare).  

I wish I could show you a photo.  Actually I'm completely glad I don't have a photo.  Yes, very glad. 

Wonky teeth.  Shit eyesight.  The whole shebang.  
Sarah will not suffer as I did.  I will not allow it.  

From 13-15 I wore braces.  They worked (slowly but surely).  Contact lenses also worked after I worked out you need to take them out and clean them every 24 hours.  But the damage was done.  My self confidence was crap.  

I DO NOT want any of my kids to feel the way I felt.  And early intervention is part of my plan, along with a healthy dose of confidence which I will give them anyway I can.  

I can't protect them from the world.  But  I can give them weapons to use when the going gets tough.  I just feel awful because it's my fault they (just Sarah so far but I know Issy will be bucky thanks to incorrigible thumb/finger sucking) have to go through this.  

I know there are lucky people who swan through their early adolescence and teenage years with clear skin, perfect teeth and 20/20 vision.  I hate them all.  I remember admiring them from a distance at high school.  If genetics count for anything, I doubt the Christensens have such a smooth road ahead.  

But dammit, I'm there for 'em.  Whether they want me there or not.  

First image courtesy of Maggie Smith /

Second image courtesy of Grant Cochrane /

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The pros and cons of being home and away.

Small but homely.  And just a bit chilly. 
Things I like about being home.

1.  Pink dip (taramasalata) from my favourite deli/coffee shop.

2.  No-one tells me how they don't like noodles or how the fried rice doesn't taste like the one we have at home.

3.  I have my birds back.  I don't think they missed me at all.  But I'm glad to see them.

4.  My house has new windows, doors and back deck.

5.  I have my laptop back.

6.  I like where I live, and the people who live near me.  They are tops.

I don't particularly like the weather.  And the dust upstairs when we arrived home had to be seen to be believed.  One hour of solid dusting and a packet of dust cloths later and I'm back to a once a day habit.  

Things I miss about being away.

1.  Having staff.  I really would make an excellent expat.  Although deciding what to have for lunch and dinner every day can be tiring.  (tongue is in cheek here people).

2.  Being warm, all the time.  Continual warmness.  24/7.  

3.  Fifteen minute taxi rides that cost $5.

4.  G&Ts at 4:30pm.  Mojitos at lunch.   Satay sauce.

Mojito not shown. 
5.  Kids running around in swimmers all day laughing.  Kids lying peacefully for hours reading books.

6.  The people we went away with.  They are tops.

So yucky.  Maybe I have a phobia? 
I don't miss the monkeys at the monkey forest.  They are gross.  If I never see another monkey it will be too soon.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Ode to a holiday (warning: extremely poor poem inside)

When my pedicure was still nice. 
The sunscreen has been returned to its winter location.

Because we've reached the end of our fabulous vacation.

The kids did swim, the sun did shine, the parents they did sit.

And sit and chat and sit and chat and chat and sit and sit.

And sometimes there was G&T and sometimes there was wine.

There was no need to cook or clean which we found mighty fine.

Now my summer dresses mock me as they hang upon the line.

And when in Ubud we did go upon a bicycle ride

Through busy villages and fields of rice on either side.

Two hours we rode, the kids were great

They all rode like champions whether 10 or 6 or 8

Rode for two hours.  Six years old.  Champion.  

Just before the bike ride.  They loved every minute.  

We tasted coffee harvested from the poo of a large cat

Very unimpressed cat.  Or is it a possum?
And ate delicious food (not cooked by us) until we became tremendously fat (well I did).

In Seminyak we spent some time at charming KuDeTa

And Potato Head did offer splendid cocktails from the bar

And when my darling husband decided to climb a volcano.

I quickly shouted No!

But then I let him go.  (And he returned safely).

And now we're back.  It's not so bad.

The house reno has progressed, and I'm only a tiny bit sad.

I miss our travel mates, the kids miss theirs.

Tons of happy memories shared.

The balcony of the second villa.  We spent hours here.  
Corny?  Absolutely!  Heartfelt?  Also yes.