Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Thanks winter sport.

They're a bit squinty.  I had them facing the sun.  Rookie error.  

Thanks for forcing us to develop our logistical brains every week so we could get three children to three different sports in three different places at three different times.

Thanks for causing a few nasty moments when we forgot the time/place/court we were supposed to be on.

Thanks for giving us good friends who would fill in the gaps when we discovered the physical impossibility of being in two or three places at once.

Thanks to the kids for being reasonably understanding when told we couldn't always watch every game every week.

Thanks for sometimes (twice I think) making the three games and locations fall so we could get to each game and watch everyone play.

Netball player of the week.  Sometime in the season.
Thanks for making me rethink that extra glass of wine on Friday nights, allowing me to wake up fresh and perky in order to undertake the logistical gymnastics required by the above.

Thanks for getting us out into the sunshine so we could watch our kids run around with their mates having a ball.

Thanks for helping us develop a family tradition of sausage sizzle followed by Ck's Bites hot chocolate.
Josh had his turn about halfway through the season.  Note horrible mouthguard. 
Thanks for sometimes being cancelled and giving us a lie in.

Thanks for making all three children at some point, have to watch their sibling play/win/lose/score, allowing them to discover that life's not all about them.

The soccer playing pocket rocket. 
Thanks for creating some of the most incredibly horrible traffic situations I've seen in all my years of driving.

Thanks for letting my chick play in a grade that suits her abilities, and for her to find a most excellent team and fabulous coach, so excellent and fabulous that they've reached the grand final!

Thanks to all the coaches, all the managers, all the orange bringers and uniform washers across all sports, even the ones my kids don't play.

Thanks to the little girls (and one boy) who taught us that soccer games can sometimes be interrupted  with hand holding, skipping and hugging your teammates without any dire consequences.

And on that note, thanks for finally finishing and leaving us on Saturday with only ONE game (Sarah's final) at 9am!

And then, we have 6 weeks until cricket starts.  SIX WEEKS OFF!  And then it's just cricket, no other sports to get to!  Excitement.

Winter sport has given a lot to this family and I really am thankful for it.  But goodness I'm glad it's over.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

We're floored! In a good way.


Reno update time. 

The floors are IN! And they have made the house look finished in a 'wow we're nearly there' way.  It's very exciting.  

The floors were supposed to take 4 days.  By the time they are waterproofed tomorrow they will have taken 8.  The stairs alone took 4 days.  I don't have a good shot of the stairs so you'll have to take my word for it. 

The kitchen, sliding doors to deck. 
The kitchen comes next Wednesday.  It will take 3 days to install.  Then, the following Monday the rest of the joinery comes (wardrobe/linen/mudcupboard/tv cabinet.  

In the meantime we will get skirting, painting and lighting.  

The living room.  Fireplace on left.  TV cabinetry will go on right.  Bifold doors.
 And finally carpet in the spare bedroom and the rumpus.  And Caesarstone kitchen benches.

From the rumpus to the pool via the new decking.  
 And then maybe, just maybe, we can move down into our new digs and begin phase 2!  We'll stick the three kids on mattresses in the rumpus, move ourselves into the spare bedroom and enjoy a new kitchen and several living spaces over two levels.

Dare I say it..totes amazeballs.
The kitchen.  The butlers pantry.  And two random chairs.    
So I need to order blinds, we need dining chairs, two fabulous pendant lights and funky kitchen stools.  I just don't have any energy because I have a cold that won't go away.  It's that time of year.  Issy has it too.  Poor possum.

Looking out the front door, and through the 'good' room to the front garden. 
Our mission was to remove all the mission brown.  And on the bottom two floors it's nearly gone, just lurking in the stair bannisters and a few external beams.

Our house is really beginning to look fresh and bright and modern.  I just wish I did too.  Fresh and bright, if not modern.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Twice the distance, twice the chafing: Oxfam

Not me this time.  50km is enough for me.

This time, it was Mike, and a band of merry mates, the Little Creatures.

Oxfam Trailwalker is 100km of hard slog, a walk that takes participants from Brooklyn (way up the F3) to Mosman.  It's divided into 7 sections (8 checkpoints).  You raise money for people living in poverty and then you walk it.  Some absolutely bonkers amazing people ran it.

The first three sections are very very rugged.  Lots of steep up and down hill sections which sap energy and hurt joints.

If you feel sorry for him you could always give Oxfam some money, which will make it all worthwhile!

Mike's team were walkers (definitely not runners).  I asked him where he found it the most tough and he said the hardest parts were the daylight hours, because they were the first three steepest sections and the last 20km. He said the night walking was easier than he thought because the track was even (ish) and they weren't completely knackered (yet).

What he didn't tell me was that he suffered terrible leg pain while walking, had his blisters professionally lanced, and had been treated by a physio.  He had to take panadol and nurofen just to make it through. I found this out after they'd finished, from his team mates.  To hear him talk to me, he'd just suffered a few aches and pains.

Although by the sounds of things, the medical and practical assistance available at the checkpoints was amazing.  Oxfam Trailwalker is a mean logistical enterprise.

Extra special mention goes to our mate P, an original team member of the Little Creatures (their team name) who retired gracefully after a knee blow out and immediately transformed himself into the worlds best support crew.

He brought them soup, sandwiches, porridge.  He even gave them folding chairs.  A marquee?

At the finish.  Their feet are mush.  
When we met him at the end, my main worry was not to let the kids jump on him too much because he might have fallen over.  The finish line itself was very zen, with chill out music playing and the space between the teams was easily a few minutes so you had plenty of time to take your photos and get out of the way.  

Just don't step on his toes.  

The team tracker function allowed interested parties to follow their progress through each checkpoint, which let to much pointless refreshing of screens.  It took them about 3-4 hours to travel between checkpoints so mostly I just refreshed something that didn't change.  I even woke in the night to refresh the screen.  And I slept within arms reach of three devices.  Just in case.

On Saturday morning I took the kids to meet them at Seaforth Oval 8km from the end.  They were tired but quietly determined.  We saw about five other teams, some walking very gingerly.  Eight more km of chafing would have been very challenging.  8 more km of blistering feet would have tested the mental strength of many.  

They're just amazing.  
After 25 hours and 24 minutes they crossed the line.  We cheered and clapped and were enormously proud. We're still proud. They've raised nearly $8k for Oxfam and crossed off another bucket list entry.  And now, 36 hours after finishing, they are still a bit stiff and sore but (in Mike's case) perfectly capable of spending 5 hours at the soccer gala day.  

PS. I got to divide my Sunday between a band festival and the gala day.  Senior Band received GOLD for their performance and Issy scored three goals.  Clever little tackers.  

PPS.  Gala day was an amazing experience with each team playing 4 games, rides, slides and a canteen selling mainly sugar.  The kids had a fabulous day, first fleecing Mike of all his funds and then descending on my wallet as soon as I arrived.  They took shameless advantage of that fact that Mike and I didn't have a chance to communicate about what we'd allowed them to consume, so they got double of everything.  
 Monday, as usual will provide a rest from the weekend madness.

Monday, 19 August 2013

I've forgotten more than I ever knew.

You learn a lot, as a parent.  And you forget a lot too.  For example, I would struggle to settle a newborn these days, even though for 4 years all I seemed to do was settle tiny children.  My brain has dumped a lot of information from my children's early years.  Or perhaps it's just well kept, in storage, and if suddenly put in charge of a newborn again (no no no no no no) I could settle them like a champion.

Anyway, here is some information I've retained.  Things I've learned along the way.  Mainly that every child is a unique human being.  They have their own unique tastes and areas of interest.  And sometimes, even as parents we don't recognise this and force them into our own expectations of what they should enjoy.  I say do it only once people, then learn your lesson and move on.  Or better still, learn them from me first and save yourself the trouble.

Lessons I've learned (so far):

Not all children like petting farms.  

Beware the goat. There's always a goat and the goat is usually evil. 
I've seen them screaming.  I've seen their parents trying to convince them to pat a sheep or pick up a guinea pig.  That kid is not having a bar of it.  Animals, especially baby ones, are far too random for some children.  They might bite, or sniff them, or touch them or something.  Parents, if you do have a child like this, please don't force the issue, their screaming frightens the animals (and the other parents), this is especially true at the Royal Show where the number of hysterical, terrified children in the vast petting area nearly outnumbered the happy ones.

Not all children like costumes.

Not dressing up themselves, nor others dressing up.  The sight of a Banana in Pyjamas or a Dora impersonator with a big head, is enough to make them run, shrieking in the opposite direction.  For these kids, a dress up party is just a terrifying opportunity for all their friends to freak them out while wearing masks.  Forcing kids like these to the front of the crowd to get closer to the large creature in a yellow banana suit is NOT the solution.  Unless you want to be deaf, and kicked to pieces by your sobbing offspring.

Not all children like the movies.

Now here I'm lucky because my three will sit, like statues, wearing 3D glasses like three little Harry Potters, and not move for the duration.  They eat their bag of treats (purchases beforehand at Coles, not the rip off cinema) and stare unwaveringly at the screen, while fully inhabiting whatever world has been created for them there.  But I have invited friends to the movies who are like little jack in the boxes.  They're up, down, back, forth.  They're off down the aisle, and they're busting for the loo.  They're bored, hungry, thirsty, need to sit on my knee, want to leave now, is it over yet?  They just can't help it.

Not all children like ice cream. 

Quite frankly, I find not liking ice-cream very hard to understand. 
Issy is one.  She can only eat smallish fruity ice poles eg. Calippos.  No Magnums or bowls of Blue Ribbon with lashing of Cottees chocolate topping for her (and no this isn't an ad, this is my childhood and perhaps why, for the whole of year five, my nickname was Porky).  Issy gets a terrible tummy ache if she eats too much of anything too cold.  Some kids get headaches.  Goodness I wish that happened to me when I was 10, it would have saved me a year of anguish.

I don't know if Issy properly qualifies as a disliker of ice cream because normally if you ask her she'll have one, and risk the painful consequences.

Not all children like spaghetti bolognese

The go-to staple for harried mothers all over Australia is not universally loved?  Who knew? Well, I did when Sarah told me she didn't like it.  I was gutted.  I thought it was a family winner.

Poor old spaghetti bol.  Not everyone's favourite. 
I felt, frankly, unAustralian.  But I soon realised I wasn't alone.

I also have a friend whose daughter used to cry when she was told it was spag bol for dinner (she has since grown out of this).  And to be honest, Joshie still cries if I make Tacos.  So I still make Spag Bol, but not as often as I used to, and Sarah eats it under sufferance.

I have not yet met a child who dislikes chocolate.  But I'm sure they're out there.

Any generalisations used in this blog post are mine...all mine.  *laughs evilly*

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos/tom curtis, suat eman and rackratchada torstrap.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Is your competitive instinct under control? Mine isn't...yet.

I am not competitive.  I'm always saying it.  Or am I? 

But on Saturday when I was watching my netballer play in her semi final, this weird fierce fire boiled up in me.  I WANTED them to win.  They've won every game this season, they deserve to win.  They've tried so hard.  

Really? Harder than the other teams?  Surely not.  

On the sideline, other parents faced the same internal fight.  We kept trying to bring the importance of the semi final into perspective, while keeping the girls motivated and fired up.  Trying to hide how important it is to us (who aren't even playing) for them to win.  

The score swayed wildly, we played injury time, the other team lost a player for nearly a whole quarter, allowing us to get far ahead, and then reeled us in, goal by goal, for the next quarter, leaving our girls down by one, and utterly demoralised.  In the third quarter, our girls came into their own, and we forged ahead by 7.  

It was under 10 H grade netball.  And yet, it was excruciating.  Rivetting.  There was courage, there were hard knocks.  The shooters tried, tried and tried again.  The parents sighed and grimaced and ground our teeth.  Sometimes we put our hands over our eyes.  At one point I even went and watched another game just to cut my internal tension.

I just couldn't even...

But then, my poor chick, my poor poor accident prone, wobbly ankled child, playing GD chasing after a GA 20cm taller than her, and 20% faster, in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, went over on her ankle as she tried to keep up with her foe as they raced towards their goal.  

She hopped straight up.  But when she turned her face my way, I saw it wasn't good.  She was nearly in tears.  The rules are strict.  I'm not allowed on even when it's my kid who's injured (it's bloody hard not to just run on and cuddle her) and only a designated first aid parent can go on the court.  She stuck at her opponent, and kept on playing, marking her player as best she could.  But she was struggling and they got another goal in.  We were about to call time and swap her with another kid, but just as we got her attention the final bell went.  

I went straight to her, she went straight to me.  We wrapped our arms around each other and held on tight.  She had a little cry.  I felt like having a little cry, overly invested as I was.  Plus, my baby was hurting.  

I hobbled her over to the team, who had made a messy, slightly crazed circle of parents and kids.  The scream of victory we sent up was primal.  We did three cheers, I'm not even sure it was for us or for the opposition.  Sarah was cuddled and made much of by her coach and manager and other kids.  She smiled tearily and hung on to me.  

We'll meet that team again in the final, I'm sure of it.  They will play next Saturday, win, and play us the week after.  I'm worried that we've played our final.  But I'm only writing that here.  

Those girls played their hearts out.  I am so proud of them all.  

Sarah and I went to the first aid room, got ice and advice and she got a lift home with a friend, who was kind and gentle to her while I went to watch Joshie.  She hopped and limped around until this afternoon, when a moste kinde friend (who is also a physio) strapped her ankle.  

Netball was not the only competition of the weekend.  There was also a monumental game of Cluedo. 

Cluedo fiends. 
There was also a rugby game that got nasty when a larger than average opposition player took out a few of our players with his wildly waving hands every time he was tackled.  Parents got edgy.  Words were exchanged and they weren't polite ones.  

You could see the kids were aware of this unpleasant interaction, even as they continued playing.  I think that's what shut everyone up quickly.  It was an ugly moment.  No one was in the right and no one came out looking very good.

The view from my run this morning.  
I fought for my exercise this morning.  And I won, eventually and got out for a run.

10 x 6 year olds in a tree at the end of season soccer get together.  
And we finished off with an awesome soccer team, end of season get together.  It was wild, it was crazy.  There were ten kids in a tree, pizza, beer and wine.

And now I've eaten a family pack of Maltesers my run was all for nothing.  God they were good.

I need a week to recover from my weekend.  

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

How to prepare for Science Day at school.

Child A.  Mad Scientist.

Step 1.  Take one ten year old.  Preferably with long hair.  Instruct her (she's a girl by the way) to wash her hair so it can be put into multiple plaits. Then make her go to karate pick up, despite her protesting that her hair's drying and it will never work.

Step 2. When you finally get home, wet her hair again and divide it into tiny sections.  Make as many little plaits as you can.  11 is good.  If you are a fabulous mum you will manage more.

Step 3.  Take an old business shirt and cut/rip holes in it in a random fashion, reminiscent of an experiment gone wrong.  Locate any or all of the following accessories: tie, clipboard, test tube with green jelly, bow tie, magnifying glass, ball point pens, 3D glasses with the lens out.  Put aside for later.

The next morning:

Step 4.  When the 10 year old wakes up, instruct her to take all the plaits out.  Turn her upside down and shake her hair around while spraying it with hairspray.  Get a brush and ruthlessly tease that hair until it looks like nothing on earth.  Begin to fear the afternoon when it will need to be brushed.

Step 5.  Allow the 10 year old to give herself black smudges on her face (experiment gone wrong remember) using face crayons purchased hysterically at the $2 shop the day before.

Child B.  Frankenstein's Monster

Step 1.  Take one 8 year old.  This time, a boy.  Take his best 'smart' party shirt from two years before and his old size 4 black combat pants.  Attack with a pair of scissors.  Let everyone have a go.  Because it's fun ripping clothes on purpose.

Step 2. Obtain one tub of industrial strength hair gel.  Use this gel to force down the beautiful wiry curls of your son.  Keep coating hair until it gives up and lies straight (ish).  You will not have much gel left. Spray subdued hair with black hairspray until your curly headed lad is unrecognisable.  Shed a tear.

Step 3. Allow the 10 year old mad scientist (above) to give the 8 year old some scar tissue and a fine monobrow using the face crayons.  Give the 8 year old a pretend 'bolt through the neck' purchased hysterically from the $2 shop (those places are amazing) the day before.

Step 4. Paint the 8 year old's visible skin a sickly shade of green using body paint purchased hysterically from you know where, you know when.  Add far more green than you want to because of urging by the 8 year old.  Show him how he looks in the mirror.  He is delighted.

Child C.  Water molecule

Step 1. Convince 6 year old (girl again) that it's a great idea to be a water molecule, dressed up in her brothers robot costume from Open Day (a piece of silver material with a head slit cut in it).  Buy silver hair spray to sweeten the deal.  I'll let you guess where this was purchased, and when.

Step 2. Put hair into high pony because "that's what molecules look like" (according to her), get told off for trying to tease the hair up.  Spray on silver spray and realise because her hair is already blonde, it doesn't really show.  Cuddle your molecule and tell her she looks great.

Step 3.  Allow the 10 year old mad scientist to draw water droplets on the molecules face, to really drive the point home.

Step 4.  Teach the 6 year old to say molecule so she can tell people what she is.

Step 5.  On the advice of a wise and trusted friend, also write H2O a few times on the molecule's face and hands.

Take a photo.

Realise it's 7:35 (yes really) and time to get to band practice.  Jump in car, pick up a zoologist/clarinet player and arrive at band to find more mad scientists than you could poke a stick at.

There were a few non mad scientists, including a black hole (kid in all black) and one dissected frog with a velcro opening stomach/tee shirt arrangement.

I was impressed.  And utterly exhausted. But there's a happy ending to this tale.


Best costume in 2R.  Thanks in large part to his big sisters budding make up artistry.

And that, my friends, is how you prepare for Science Day.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The ongoing conundrum of kids and technology.

Sure, she can use a laptop, but is her brain really empty?
My kids are technological wizards.  They are consummate users of ipods, ipads, iphones, our laptop and Apple tv.  New technology doesn't phase them in the slightest.   They are bloody lucky kids who want for nothing.

At school they've gone beyond having a computer room they visit each week to having computers in each classroom and using them daily.  They have iPads to share between classes with amazing educational apps on them.  And of course, smart boards, where teachers can Google anything they like, any time they like and allow their charges to zoom around the internet, following leads and 'searching up' (as they call it), whatever takes their fancy.

It happens at home too.  In the last few days we (mainly they) have 'searched up' wind farms, sustainable forestry, Frankenstein, Frankenstein's monster, orcs, trolls and obsidian.  Oh, and How Animals Eat Their Food (it's really funny).

Mine are certainly exposed to technology a great deal, probably because I love it and have more gadgets than I should and I'm always on them.  Like now.  I'm a sucker for a new app, I love social media and as a freelancer, have to be my own IT help desk.  Oh, and I write a blog.

A selection of devices at chez Christensen.  Too much yes?  + 1 cause my iphone took the photo.  
At home we have a no screen rule during the week (no Wii, TV, iPods) but they can do Mathletics and use the laptop for project research.  Playing Wii is allowed when friends are over.

Can I just say this rule is bent sometimes.  Please don't judge me.

I do believe free, imaginative, non screen play is better for kids than oodles of screen time.  Like, der.

But I also see the benefits of being able to do their own research, being confident in front of a computer, even the social benefits of talking about it at school.  Like everything, it's about balance, and the balance is always being adjusted.

A friend of mine told me that her son, normally an above average student across the board, received a poor mark in computers.  It was his first below average mark ever.  Caused, she believes from her (very reasonable) habit of not letting him play on the computer at home.  She sends him into the garden to play instead.

Never did I ever think that allowing a kid to free range play instead of staring at a screen would be the cause of a poor mark.  But my mate is wondering if her boy's limited access to screen time has caused him to fall behind his classmates in computer work.

So are we doing kids an injustice if we don't let them use the computer?  Surely not?  Surely it's better to run around in the garden than watch How Animals Eat Their Food.  Although it's pretty funny.

I know I have some serious decisions to make as Sarah gets older.  She's already allowed to have limited access to Kik (a message forum they can use with their ipods) but she doesn't seem to seek that sort of online interaction very often (yet?).  And, I'm firmly in the school of thought that says 'no devices in bedrooms'.

Part of me would like to make a rule that says no devices allowed upstairs (when we have an upstairs).  Except the other part of me is the part that reads books and newspapers on my iPad in bed, so I'm already flaunting the no device in bedroom rule.  And I'm not stopping either.  It's too far too convenient and backlit to boot.

But this provides a conundrum, as they get older they will study in their room, not at the kitchen bench and they'll need access to websites for research etc.  Which will also give them access to Facebook (or whatever site they will want to socialise on in a few years time - it won't be Facebook I'm sure), and possible cyber bullying, and late night messaging and, and, and...

And soon, they'll surpass me in my knowledge of technology and the latest, best device and I won't be able to keep as close eye on them.  And if they're determined, they'll be able to get around passwords and parental locks.

I know another kid whose Dad pays him $5 if he can break the parental lock on the PC in under 5 minutes.  He's 15.  And he always does it.

This sounds like the Josh of the future.  The future scares me.

I'm afraid in regard to the technological conundrum, I have no answers, only questions.  Sorry.

PS.  Issy is home sick today and after a morning of chores, shopping and doctors appointments, she has opted to watch ABC iview on the ipad rather than plain old TV as it gives her total control over her viewing.  She flips seamlessly from Peppa Pig, to Mr Maker and on to an episode of my personal favourite, Play School.  She is 6, and totally tech savvy.

PPS.  The presenters on Play School are now absurdly young?  Yes?

Monday, 12 August 2013

You're never too old to be surprised.

The Panda. Her brother and sister were asleep when I took the photo.  Sorry.
Not many things phase me.  I like to think I've seen it all.  But here are a few things that have caught my attention, and surprised me in the past few days.  Not all of them are good.  But all of them are interesting.  Well I think so.

1. This morning when I came out of the shower, there were three animals in my bed.  They were hiding under the covers and shrieking.  Their vocalisations bore no resemblance to their animal incarnation, in fact, two of them, a giraffe and a panda, to my knowledge, make no noise at all, or at least very quiet noises.

My panda and my giraffe were not quiet. At. All.

They were accompanied by a dinosaur.  Who didn't roar, but shrieked too.

Fearlessly I hunted all the animals out of my bed and told them to go and have breakfast.

2. When we were out to dinner with friends two weeks ago, the table behind us surprised us not once, but twice.  Firstly, when we noticed it had gone quiet all of a sudden, because every single one of them (10 I think) had repaired to the charming busy road footpath outside for a ciggy.

Haven't seen this for years.  Not the whole table.  And I've ducked out for a ciggy with the best of them.  Just not in the last decade.

But totally worse than that, because if they want to poison their respiratory system outside they can knock themselves out as far as I'm concerned, was this:

When the dessert came out, and these people were celebrating a birthday judging by the profiteroles with sparklers stuck in them that came past us, they started THROWING THEIR FOOD.

Yep.  I've put it in caps.  Because that's how gobsmacked we all were.  We think the profiteroles were frozen and not property defrosted.  Sure, they should have been fresh.  We all agree, i
f you're going to try to fake it with frozen desserts, at least defrost them properly before serving.

But none of this excuses food throwing.  By anyone over the age of 2.  Ever.  But some of these people did it.  Then they paid the bill and left, leaving squashed profiterole on the carpet near the door.

I just can't even...

3. While out running today, I was deep in the deepest of thought, chugging along oblivious to the stunning view out over the heads to my left.  So much so, I must have veered to the right, off the running/bike track, and into the road.

The stunning view I was missing.  It's really stunning.  I take it for granted, which is wrong. 
I heard a beep behind me and veered back into the left, but didn't realise how far over I'd been, or, who I'd blissfully jogged in front of, until the police car came up beside me.

Two good natured men in blue told me I'd better be careful and stick to the track.  I went puce with embarrassment.  Thanked them and they moved on.

Oh how I wish I'd made a crack about needing to be given a speeding ticket.  Or maybe I don't.

4. All of a sudden I can't find any house reno shows on TV.  Where did they go?  Why can I only find shows about wannabe pop stars, judged by B grade celebrities who give me the irrits?  Now I'm stuck watching Masterchef.  When I say watch, I mean look up at occasionally as I blog, or work.  But still, where have all the reno shows gone?  And why Big Brother?  Why?

5.  When you realise the reason your vacuum cleaner isn't sucking is because the bag is chockas.  And once you empty the bag, the suction is so strong you can barely push the thing across the carpet.  Nothing's getting past this sucker.   Yes I know it's mundane but I'm always surprised when this happens.  I'm like a goldfish in this regard.

It's a weird world we live in.  Never am I bored.  Never can I tell when the next surprise is going to happen, or what form it will take.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The agony and the ecstasy...of the reno.

So, our reno is chugging along.  We are totally happy with our builder, we love our foreman, the subbies are awesome and the apprentice is a cutie.  

But the flooring guy mucked us around, so despite everyone else's hard work, we're left with an old floor that's ready for a new floor, but has to wait another week (at least) for it to arrive and be installed.  This has had far reaching impacts, pushing the kitchen install (originally 1/2 August) to 5/6 Sept.  

I was pretty annoyed at first.  But what can you do? Now it won't be all done by Christmas.  But at least we're not worrying about whether it will be done by Christmas or not, because we KNOW it won't.  If you know what I mean.  

So here are a few photos, just to keep you updated.  If you don't give a hoot about our renos, please click away immediately and come back tomorrow.  

Even though there are no new floors yet, we have beautiful new doors, an amazing new floor plan and the most astounding set of external stairs.  

I'm not complaining.  I may have whingy moments but then I slap myself and keep on trucking. 

New main bathroom all tiled, just waiting for  bathroomy things.  

Once was spare room/bathroom, now 'good' room with bifolds to north.   Can you see the portaloo?

All our beautiful wooden doors at the back.  Bifolds, sliders, louvres.    And no floor, as you can see.  

The stairs!!  Stunners!  And a new deck coming out from the new rumpus.  It's awesome...

The reverse view of above, looking out through the rumpus  to the pool area and new deck.

So, there we are.  It's mostly excellent, and occasionally frustrating.  It's always dusty, and there's no yard for the kids, and I'm starting to dream of the day we can move downstairs and into our new living spaces.  

We are excited.  But guardedly so.  

Friday, 9 August 2013

My Controversial Stance.

The car wash or the sports carnival.  Where would you rather be?

On the face of it, there's no contest.  Most dedicated parents would never contemplate preferring a car wash over any event their kids are performing in.  And normally, neither would I.  In the last term I've watched netball, rugby, soccer, dance, gymnastics, open day performances, band performances and been to assembly.

I am not a gung ho sports mum but I do have great respect for the parents of sportingly talented children and the support they give them.

But if I'm honest, the only thing I'd rather watch less than the sports carnival is the Talent Quest. Which I've already made my views clear on.

I think the sports carnival is great because it celebrates being active.  I think the kids need to all go and cheer their house on, and if they're not sporty, cheer for their more athletic mates who compete in several events and qualify for zone and stuff.

There are no Christensens in this photo. 
I think it's awesome that the school departs en masse to the Sports Centre up the road and spends the day in the warm winter sunshine, running around and getting their blood flowing.

I just don't think I should have to witness it.  My kids aren't runners, and they only compete in one event, the running race.  I almost always miss the race, because I'm in the wrong place or looking the wrong way.

For example, on Monday I cheered and clapped one of Issy's best friends as she flew past me to win her race, not even realising my little child was in the lane next to her (coming 5th or something).

She will never know this.

See? Even when I'm right there, I still miss it.  This is how much I struggle with the sports carnival.

Here are a few more reasons why I think the Athletics Carnival is not for me:

1.  Non athletic children have to spend a lot of time sitting around, going to the canteen and buying lots of lollies which is counterproductive.

2.  After a few hours the many uses for coloured zinc become tiresome.

3.  There are ticks.  Issy got one.  She may have more I haven't found yet.  Another girl in her class got one, and another boy we know got two.  Ticks are evil, and downright dangerous if not found and removed.

4.  When your child(ren) see you they detach themselves from their mates and attach themselves to you.  This isn't fun for anyone.  The older ones want (more) money for the canteen and the younger ones start to get teary when they realise you have to go and they're not going too.  It never ends well.

5.  I tend to chat too much, staying far longer than I need to, and not paying enough attention to the children I came to see.

The best athletics carnival I never went to was the one when Mike had to take them because I was having a medical procedure.  It was awesome.

After the sports carnival I went to the car wash.  You know, the one where you hand over cash and sit in a cafe while your car is washed better than you'd ever do it at home (or could be bothered to do it).

Our neighbour washes his, his wife's and his kid's cars every single weekend.  He is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and just a tiny bit OCD about his cars.  I have tried to be like him, and wash the car in the driveway and vacuum it out, but it never ends well.

At the moment there is a skip in our driveway, which is also unhelpful.

Once, when we did have a driveway, and even a garage, I gave the car a dead battery because I left the radio on for 1.5 hours (which is how long it took me to vacuum it).

So I took my laptop to the car wash and did a bit of work and at the same time I (the word I is used very loosely here) was accomplishing a massive household task that had been worrying me for weeks.  You could make a cheesecake base from the crumbs on the floor of that thing.

And on the whole, I enjoyed sitting at the car wash more than the sports carnival.

There.  I've said it.  Controversial, but true.

Photos courtesy of FreeStockImages artur84 & chrisroll

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Daily posturing: Yoga positions for everyone.

Yeah Right.  

I've spoken before about my love of yoga.  I only do it once a week, and I'm quite crap at it, but I can feel it working on my poor unstretchy body and I hate it when other obligations keep me from it.

My yoga class is on a Wednesday.  In between classes my teacher says we should try to practice positions to keep us strong and flexible.  She would do a full solo session every morning before spending the day teaching other people.  And as I've said before, she is amazing.  While I'm nowhere near this level of commitment, I do try to practice a few positions throughout the day.

But because I'm not very good at the traditional poses, except downward dog which I can do like a champion and frog pose which is very hard to get wrong, I've decided to make a few up.  These positions or asanas are very easy to incorporate into your daily life and you may find you're doing several of them without realising it.

Sitting in the car-asana

As the car pool queen, I do this one a lot.  Driving people to all points.  Making sure I have the correct kids.  This position is deceptively simple from a physical point of view, because all you have to do is sit in the car, pressing pedals and turning the steering wheel.  But mentally it's an enormous challenge.  Keeping a clear head while Karmin sings A'cappella at vol 26, with 5 people in the back shouting along to it is no mean feat.  Add to that remembering where you're going, who you have in the car and ignoring your phone beeping text messages at you and you have one hell of an asana.

One of the more challenging asanas which doesn't appear to be getting easier with time.
I look exactly like this when I'm doing yoga. 

Waiting for the coffee-asana

Now this position can take a range of forms.  The easy form, if you're a bit tired, simply involves standing at the counter chatting to anyone who'll stand still long enough to start a conversation.  If you're feeling energetic, you can turn this asana into a veritable multi-tasking championship, buying bread, meat, picking up the dry cleaning or nipping round to the IGA, before charging back into the coffee shop and collecting your prize.

A flexible position, and a crucial part of any morning practice.

Standing at the front door waiting-asana

This asana happens far too often, and I don't find it at all relaxing or restorative.  It's quite a vocal position, usually involving repetition of the chant "PUT YOUR SHOES ON! or "DON'T FORGET YOUR FLEECE!" If you wish to add a cardio element you can pace back and forth, but be careful of doing this esp if doing a renovation as you may trip on your new tiles.

Standing in the supermarket check out queue-asana

There's a lot of bending and stretching for this position, firstly as you carefully construct the worlds most detailed check out arrangement with all food types separated into appropriate groupings.  Depending on who's with your there could also be the discovery of unauthorised items.  There is then the flicking of magazine pages, providing a nice upper body workout.  Finally, a last minute dash to grab sour cream/sakatas/toothpaste gives a final cardio burst.

Thank goodness this asana only happens once a week.  If you wish to avoid it altogether can I suggest Coles online?

Waiting outside the classroom-asana

This is an asana I have a difficult relationship with.   Because I'm now in my 5th year at the school, I can usually find a friendly face up there.  So I can assume this position and chat for Australia for far longer than is good or right.  (Don't get me wrong, I love a chat, and I love the people I meet there, but I have been caught out as the last woman chatting too many times to count eg. not home from drop off til 10AM!) So my version of this position has evolved to the point that I now skid into school at the last possible second (living 50m from the school makes this possible), grab or dump the child/children I'm responsible for and hoon out again.

Times I perform this asana successfully: about once a fortnight.  The rest of the time: chat city.

Sitting on the couch-asana

My holy grail of poses, which I do every night I can.  This involves sitting on the chaise part of the lounge, multitasking on various devices which may include my laptop, phone and ipad.  The TV is also on (of course).  My husband sits beside me in the same position (we love doing yoga together).  Sometimes we email each other.  On a good night, I can be in this asana by 7:30pm.  But some nights, it's more like 9pm.

The nights I don't manage to get into this pose, I am cranky pants.  Unless it's because I'm doing the counter pose: Going out with my friends-asana.  Which needs to be done carefully if you are to avoid pain the next day.

So that's it, a range of poses to get you through the day, even if you can't make it to an actual yoga class.  Call me guru.

Note: Any similarity between my poses and a real yoga pose is pure coincidence, and very unlikely.

Pictures courtesy of Free Digital Photos: samuiblu & ambro