Thursday, 27 February 2014

It's time to walk it again Sam.

Last year's start.  Please don't let it look like this tomorrow. 
So tomorrow morning (or this morning if you get this by email- thank you oh subscribers), I am doing Coastrek.  For the second time. 

Last year the weather was cyclonic.  Of our 4 member team, one had a (nearly) broken toe and one had just recovered from tonsillitis.

Our broken toed champion crossed the line with us, turned around after 100m and became our support crew.  At the 15km mark the tonsillitis returned suddenly and our poor team mate K was carted away with a temperature of 39. 

It was just me and C for 35km.  We survived.  Just.

Our smiles are fixed, our eyes are staring. We are afraid.   
This year C is support crew and both the girls who had to pull out last year are back with a vengeance, all bones intact, tonsils removed (drastic but effective) and determined to finish.  Another good mate has joined the team and apart from loving their company, I have no idea why I’m doing it again.  Maybe just to experience the walk in conditions other than cyclonic. 

But honestly, I’m a little frightened. 

And knowing what I know, having done it once before, this is what I’m afraid of:

I’m afraid it will rain all day like it did last year. 

I’m afraid of having really, really wet feet for hours and hours again.

I’m afraid of experiencing a repeat of the ‘ring of fire’ from last year.

I’m afraid of the beaches.  We didn’t have to do the long one last year because the tide was too high.  Storm surge I think was the official term. 

I’m afraid of wanting to pull out.  Because while I’m not hardcore, I’m not totally soft.

I’m afraid of blisters.  Because my feet aren’t as calloused as they were last year because I haven’t trained nearly as much. 

I’m afraid we’ll be walking in the dark at the end.

I’m afraid I won’t sleep tonight.

Last year's ending.  Note Issy hanging on tight.  Don't let the smiles fool you, we were knackered. 
I’m afraid of the last 20km, because while they are the least strenuous, they are the biggest mental challenge.

By this time tomorrow (it’s 5pm Thursday as I write this), we will be somewhere between Manly and Clontarf (I hope).  Our families will come and wave near Clontarf Marina.  This is a big psychological lift we will need badly by that point. 

And in an utterly shameless plug, here is the link to myfundraising page.  If you wanted to throw some money at Fred Hollows to help kids in the third world regain their sight in a simple procedure, this is the place and now is the time. 

Not a bad place to throw your money, and not a bad cause to walk for.  

Massive thanks to everyone who has already sponsored us.  

Wish us luck.  And no chafing or blisters.   

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Toothy Technology

Not quite what we're having, but close. 

We have begun our orthodontic journey.  It was inevitable.  We have family history of shit teeth (my side) and several ex and current thumb suckers.

Back in the 80’s my parents spent several thousand dollars straightening my teeth.  My orthodontist (Dr Rickleman?) loved safari suits.  He always wore one and had them in different shades of brown and khaki. He also had terrible teeth.  Like really terrible.  His office was at the top of one of the tallest buildings in Brisbane at the time.  I remember the view was one (possibly the only) reason I enjoyed appointments there.  And getting out of school for a few hours.

So I took Sarah to the orthodontist last week. They make dental professionals differently these days. He's his late 30’s, quite good looking, with perfect teeth.  He oozes confidence.  He tells Sarah she has a beautiful smile and she lights up like a candle and smiles some more. 

However, she has a lower jaw that doesn’t poke far enough forward and an upper jaw that pokes forward too much.  So she needs pulling back and pushing forward.  Of course our orthodontist has just the thing to fix it (fancy that!) and Sarah has now had band separators put in and impressions done, ready for installation of the device (not braces, but some funky thing that hangs off her back teeth) in a couple of weeks. 

Poor girl.  It’s going to hurt.  But the payoff is huge.

Anyway, what amazed me about the experience was the high tech feeling.  In our consult room was a standard dentist chair (in funky yellow), a consultation desk and two gigantic monitors.  Dr H moved between these, clicking away at various mice and showing me photos of past patients and their success with the device he was suggesting.  He tried to show us a You Tube video (of course) but they’d just installed new software (of course) and it wouldn’t work.  Dr H himself had an ipad mini, as did one of his assistants. 

Together the three of them x-rayed Sarah, took photos, flicked them immediately onto the large monitor, compared side and front x-rays, put our plan for treatment and associated costs onto a USB stick for us to take home and booked our next appointment. 

This all took about 20 minutes.  It was like a whirlwind of technology.  

I seem to remember attending Dr Whatshisnames offices many, many times.  We had to make an appointment just to be told we needed x-rays, then go off to get the x-rays and come back weeks later.  There were, of course, no photographs. 

I’m a fan of technology.  And I’ve never seen a professional office so completely embrace all it can offer the way this place has.  I’m damned impressed.


And the cost?  It's on the USB stick they gave me.  I haven't looked at it yet.  If it was 1986 it would be on a paper  In 2014 I can stay in denial a little bit longer. 

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos: stockimages.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

My Latest Relationship.

Maybe not love, but certainly a strong appreciation.
I am developing a relationship with Sydney Buses.  I have never sought or desired such a relationship.  But one is developing regardless. 

It all started when Josh began catching the bus home from school.  We eased ourselves into it and drove them for two weeks before initialising our master bus catching plan.

Perhaps I over parented a little.  I went into school, walked with them to the bus stop (a teacher is also rostered on for this and sees them safely there every day). I watched them board.  Another new mum was also doing the same thing so I didn’t feel like I was being OTT. 

I waved them off, galloped to my car and raced the bus home, ready to be at the bus stop at the other end. And I was.  And as the bus passed our stop, I saw him, looking out the window at me and his sister, blue eyes wide as he watched us whoosh past him. 

He hadn’t pressed the button. 

The bus continued down the road to the next stop, Sarah raced off to get him.  We were sure he would get off there and walk up. 

Nope.  He stayed on.  I think he thought the bus fairies would come and fetch him.  He stayed on, watched one of his mates get off a few stops further and then was forced off the bus by his other friend’s Mum, alerted by me via text, who climbed on and insisted he go with her.

I have no idea where he would have ended up. 

Actually I do, because it’s happened twice now. 

Last week, he and his mate were supposed to get off at our stop together so I could take them to tennis.  I may or may not have forgotten to tell Josh.  His mate had definitely been alerted by his mum and was trying hard to convince Josh that it was his house they needed to go to.  But Josh is stubborn.  So when they arrived at our stop, they were arguing so much they didn’t get off. 

And a few stops down the road, where they could have disembarked near his mate’s house?  Nope they stayed on. 

I waited, in the rain, across from the bus stop, not having seen them (they are too small).

NOTE: I have been forbidden to wait at the stop itself after the time I climbed onto the bus to search for him.   I know, I know…

I waited and waited and became more and more worried and as I was about to completely freak out, I received a phone call from the bus driver.  He was at Manly, he had the boys.  He said he would wait until I came. 

I love that bus driver. 
I pegged it to the car and raced down to Manly and there was the bus.   Blocking one of only two lanes, at 4:30pm right on the busy street near the wharf.  Cars were backed up to the Pier.  But he wasn’t going anywhere.   In the back of the bus I could see two pairs of hands waving and two baseball caps.  They looked neither frightened nor contrite.  Mainly excited to have the bus to themselves.

Seeing as parking illegally was the order of the day, I parked behind him, raced out, thanked him 50 times and herded them to the car. 

I thought my intense relationship with Sydney Buses was over for the day.  But no.  Because Mike, back from a night in Melbourne, left his suitcase on his bus. 

The absolutely charming and wonderful lady from the Brookvale Depot waived her usual Lost Property opening hours and let me go and collect it at 9:30pm. 

I had been at a Year 1 class drinks but was stone cold sober because FebFast. 

Four nights to go.  And one Coastrek.
And my goodness, I love champagne.  
Piece of cake. 

I love Sydney Buses. 





Monday, 17 February 2014

I had a 'man look' and I liked it.

In our family I'm the one others (of all ages and genders) choose to come to, when they need help finding a lost item.  

Before I help them, I ask if they have made any effort to locate the item on their own.  They swear they've looked everywhere.  

Of course they haven't.  What they've done, is have a 'man look'  

The 'man look' is a name given to the type of searching effort done when someone really can't be bothered looking hard for a lost item.  You make as little effort to search as possible, until it's feasible to ask someone else to look for you.  

Having a 'man look' enables a person to be looking directly at the lost item and still not see it.

For example, an 8 year old who can't find their shoes will come to you, citing lost footwear.  You will ask if they have searched and they will say yes, convincingly.  You will obligingly stop what you are doing (usually something family centric, like folding washing or cooking dinner) to help them search.  

You will almost immediately find the item.  It may be slightly under a couch, or peeking out from a bed.  It will be visible enough to show that the original seeker made no effort whatsoever to find it.  

This is a 'man look'.  It is called thus because men are very skilled at it.  Kids are a close second.  

Well, today it happened to me.  For the first time I have experienced 'man looking' from the other side.  And boy was it a fresh perspective. 

Here's how it happened: 

Josh has to leave the house particularly early on Mondays.  I wake him at 6am and he is picked up at 6:30.  It is quite an effort and he is hard to rouse and very hard to jolly along.  I have taken to frying him an egg as the protein seems to help.  

I fry the egg in a little copper frying pan I have had for about 20 years.  I stole it from my mother.   

Isn't it cute!
This morning I couldn't find the little pan.  The weather was questionable, training looked like being cancelled but the confirming tweet had not yet been sent by the coach so we were all systems go.  

Mike had been in charge all weekend because I was away.  Not wanting to bother him, I looked everywhere (I thought), and tried to be inventive in location scouting.  

No pan.  

Confession: I didn't take a good look in the roasting dish drawer because, well, it's for roasting dishes.  

Not the place for a frying pan? 
I finally asked Mike and he stalked (he's clearly learned this behaviour from me) to the roasting dish drawer, hurled it open, looked under the top pan and pulled out my little copper favourite.  

And do you know.  I felt great.  Not because I'd made him stop shaving to find it.  But because someone else had the knowledge.  Someone else had been in control.  When you let someone else find your stuff, you're letting them be in charge.  

Now some people love being in charge.  Me, not so much.  I am in charge of the household organisation whether I like it or not. And it does become tiring. That's why it felt so good when Mike knew something I didn't.  I felt all floaty and useless.  

Now I understand how good it feels, I may even be a bit more understanding the next 20 times I'm asked to find something hidden in plain view. 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sliding doors of my life.


So I grew up in Brisbane.  On the river at Graceville.  Why yes, it does flood.  Here is a picture of a flood.
This is today.
This is flood.  
The house I'm sitting in now as I write this post is the same house I was brought home to as a newborn.  I still accidentally call it home when I am in Brisbane and sometimes when I'm not.

I am incredibly lucky to still have the chance to come here.  Sure, lots of things have changed since I was a kid but plenty of things haven't.  A few I'm a little bitter about, but I can always have therapy for it.

Unwanted change 1: I left my green teddy bear on my bed when I left to go overseas in 1995.  Fully expected it to be there when I returned.  I've never seen it since.

Green teddy was awesome.  Mum put him in the tumble dryer once and all the stuffing went from his arms and his body to his head and legs, so he had tiny little arms and big fat legs and a big fat head (sort of like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, except not).  The he still wouldn't dry so she put him in the oven and he got burnt bits on his head and feet.  He had been mended about 100 times by my Grandma and he was very worn, and as loved as any such teddy ever was.

Anyway, I was so looking forward to seeing him when I got back (in 1997) ...except he'd vanished without a trace.

Unwanted change 2: I saved a large red suitcase full of Barbie dolls, clothes (pretty awesome ones) and...wait for it...inflatable Barbie furniture, in real 70's style decor browns, greens and oranges.  It vanished mysteriously, not doubt chucked out by my Mum who was sick of her five kids leaving stuff in her house and never coming back.  Two of them even left pets.

But the pets never mysteriously vanished.

Strangely, in my old room, the wardrobe is jam packed with about 100 of my stuffed toys that I couldn't give a stuff (pun fully intended) about.  I'd give them all away just to see Green Teddy again.

I left the house in 1995 to live overseas.  We came back briefly in 1997 before moving to Sydney which was where we would find more of the type of work we'd both been doing - product accounting for investment banks (Yay!).

So what does this mean?  What was behind sliding door number 2? Of course we'll never know.  But I sometimes imagine what it might have been like.

Well Mike and I might have bought our first house in Bardon or Paddington before moving out to Ashgrove or Chelmer when we needed more space.

Mike would catch the train to work.  The kids would go to our old schools.

We wouldn't have lost touch with many of our old mates.  Thank goodness for Facebook because we're also still in touch with quite a few.

I would be able to see my Mum and sister and niece more often.  I'd be able to help my sister with my Mum.

We'd be able to see Mike's folks and sister more often.  The kids would get more time with their grandparents, aunt and three cousins.

But they'd miss their cousin who lives in Sydney.  So what can you do?

I might still say togs instead of swimmers.  Not sure if I'd say port instead of suitcase or schoolbag, I don't think port is used even by Queenslanders any more.  Sad.

And all of us would go for the Reds in the rugby and Qld in State Of Origin.  As it stands, the family is divided as we have Waratah supporters and 3 Cockroaches.

Whenever I visit Brisbane I wonder what might have been.  If we'd stayed.

Maybe I'd still have my teddy?

PS.  I started writing this in QLD and finished it in NSW.  Like my life really.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Could my life be any more mundane if this is what excited me today?

I went to Aldi.  And found it quite exciting.

I've tried to go before, but could never get a car park.  It can become quite competitive on days when the specials come out.

That middle section does my head in. I always buy something I don't need. I nearly bought a caravan cover for crying out loud.

So today I was driving past the Aldi at our large local Mall (having just come from the budget green grocer) and because I was feeling all budgety (need to always feel like this) I turned my car into the driveway.

And immediately found a park.  This has never happened to me before.

So this is what I observed:

It's very quiet.  No muzak.  Not a lot of talking.  I think this is because you have to concentrate.

The first aisle is devoted to packaged processed foods.  This is an aisle that obviously should be avoided and yet I couldn't help myself and picked up a few ready made packaged snacks for the lunch boxes.
Prepackaged, processed goodness. 
The items are eerily similar to those for sale at Coles and Woolies yet just different enough to make you take a second or third look.  This is why it's quiet, because everyone is slightly confused.

Same, same but different? But same.  
There are some items that are also available in mainstream shops.  For instance you can still buy Milo and Coke.  Because some things you just can't mess with.

The fruit and veg section is not half bad.  I think the Coles near our house might be taking me for a ride.

The purchase of 40 dishwasher tablets for less than Coles sells 20 Finish tablets was a major coup.  Time will tell whether the dishwasher agrees with me.

Aldi isn't very big.  And yet it sold almost everything I wanted.  Which makes me think maybe Coles and Woolies are full of a lot of crap that I don't need that's just been put out to tempt me.

Of course it is...der.

Aldi, I'm coming back.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The great city of the south

Australian mens doubles.  The atmosphere was incredible. 
I have never been a massive tennis fan.  I've never played a sport to the extent that it's part of my psyche, like Mike has with rugby.

If there was a game that kind of interested me to the extent that I get quite into it, it would be tennis.  But I am not hard core.  I don't stay up late to watch Wimbledon or anything.  I have friends who do, who played tennis to a high level and still enjoy playing socially.

We have always enjoyed the Australian Open on TV.  Mike has gone with a mate once and we spoke of doing it one day.  Then this December, he got invited to a corporate day during the Australian Open.  Now we had just celebrated our 15 year wedding anniversary (12th December is a stupid day to get married), and not really done much, so in a sudden burst of energy he booked us plane tickets to Melbourne.

But first he rang his folks and asked them if they would come and take care of the kids.

Suddenly a weekend in Melbourne was beginning to seem extremely attractive.

We have very close friends in Melbourne and we asked to stay with them one night.  They have just built a gorgeous house in an awesome suburb close to the city and we were very keen to see it and them.  In order to really relish the child freeness of our time away, we wanted to spend two of the nights in a hotel.  So I asked my mate (as a Melbourne native) where to go.

She said the Windsor.  She was right.  Talk about your comfy bed.

As the day of our departure approached it became clear that we would be arriving in Melbourne in the middle of the hottest and longest heatwave the city has ever experienced.  And the hottest night was the one we were spending at our friends house, not at the air conditioned hotel.

Our timing was abysmal.  Our friend's beautiful new home was designed by an architect whose very philosophy is founded on green principles.  There was no air-conditioning in sight.  Just concrete floors and clever window positioning.  Which is awesome when it's 25, even 30.  Not 40.

So after meeting my beloved at the airport and enjoying a drink and a meal and a very nice (child free) flight to Melbourne we emerged into the real world.

Still in an air-conditioned bubble of happiness.
Hot doesn't really begin to cover it.  It was like being in an oven.

We arrived at their house at 10pm and the entire family (2x 10 yo, 1 x 7yo) were still awake. It was well beyond too hot to sleep.  We had a drink, ate ice cubes and eventually the children sort of collapsed onto mattresses on the floor.  The upper floor was about 5 degrees warmer than downstairs so we were all camping out together.  We lay on the concrete floor and hoped for the best.

I dreamed of this.  Mainly the controlled climate interiors.  
I dreamed of the Windsor and the air con.  The next morning Mike headed off (sweltering in biz casual long pants and long sleeve business shirt) to what he dearly hoped was an air-conditioned function.  We sweltered in the house for a few hours, and my mate and I had a good catch up, and then we made the move to a most excellent restauranty, cafe, dessert bar in Lygon St called Brunetti's.

Air conditioned.

Thank goodness.

Finally it was check in time at the Windsor.  I hot (no pun intended) footed it there and immediately lay myself down on the bed in the air conditioning.  There I lay for several hours watching the tennis and feeling my core temperature return to normal.

Reducing my core temperature. 
The cool change was expected any minute for about 5 hours but had made no appearance by the time my poor husband returned to me at 5pm.  Luckily he had spent most of the day in aircon and had watched some awesome tennis too.

It did arrive eventually and by the time we returned from dinner with our mates, it felt normal again.  And the next day at the tennis (Roger Federer!!!!!!) was the perfect temperature for everyone.

Mr Federer serving.

That evening we went straight from the tennis to Movida Next Door and actually got a table.


Eating here was a massive highlight.  Yes I know how lucky I am. 
The next morning we found excellent coffee and breakfast in Degraves lane.  We caught a tram and shopped on Brunswick Street.  Everything went so well and so smoothly the entire weekend.  It was a wonderful anniversary present.
A cheeky trio of tacos. 
And to be helpful to anyone wanting to visit Melbourne I have analysed it's strengths and weaknesses for you, so you know what to expect.

Melbourne completely knows how to do:

Large sporting events
Inner city public transport (I've heard it's a bit patchy further out)
Coffee
Cool bars behind mysterious doors
Excellent Euro style breakfast cafes
Coffee
Alleyways full of funky shops
Streets full of funky shops
Tiny bars that barely fit anyone and are always heaving
Large bars that fit loads of people and are also heaving
Coffee
Excellent restaurants
Coffee

Melbourne struggles with

Hot weather in general
What to wear in hot weather

Now this last point is interesting because I've been to Melbourne quite a few times but only in the cooler months and their dress sense is normally simply spot on.  But for a population so used to wearing black, long, heavy clothes and looking awesome and understated and 'just right' almost all the time, a hot day sends them all a bit off centre. I saw a lot of strange sundresses and very white skin.

And after all that, we returned home and hugged our babies, and Mike's parents.  Who hugged us back.





Monday, 10 February 2014

Surfing Safari...sort of.

You SHALL learn to surf, because I said so.  And paid for it. 
As befits our location we have decided, collectively to learn to surf.  This momentous decision manifested in all three children being placed into surfing lessons during the holidays.

This decision does not include adults.  We don't surf.  Mike due to reading Jaws at the age of 12 and me because I choose to live vicariously though my offspring in this regard.

I booked all three kids into three days of lessons for mid Jan.  In order to get a spot I had to book and pay in full in early December, such is the popularity of the lessons.  I think this might have been highway robbery but I wasn't confident enough to challenge the man on the phone.

Here is how the lessons panned out:

Issy is so small that she was thrown off the board like a piece of popcorn every time a wave of any substance came through.  The poor instructor had to keep catching her as she flew off.  This didn't frighten her in the slightest.  Her main problem was body temperature, despite the sunny day, she got cold very quickly and had to be frequently rubbed with towels.

She also developed a disturbing habit of running up to her young, handsome surf instructors and slapping them on their taut, wetsuit clad bottoms.  I was at the same time appalled and envious.

Josh took to it like a natural, and after the first day in nice easy little waves during which he stood up multiple times, declared himself an expert, needing no further instruction. I bought him his own spring suit but declined to purchase a $200 soft board on the basis of this enthusiasm.  He was deeply distressed at my lack of generosity.

The second day there was much wilder surf and he struggled to stand even once.  This caused him to declare surfing stupid and too hard.  He has settled now into a mild passion, vying with cricket for domination of his psyche, and luckily we have excellent friends who can surf, who are willing to take him out on a borrowed foamy and put him on waves.  His Dad, a firm non surfer (see above), takes him to the cricket nets.

Sarah my darling child who has no sense of natural balance whatsoever, tried her absolute best and stood up maybe once on the first day.  The rough weather meant had no chance of getting up on the second day but her love of the experience and her total optimism despite setbacks put her brother to shame.  She had the best attitude of the three of them by far, yet she is the one who has to work the hardest.  Goodness I love her.

The third day was so rough the kids had to wait on the sand in a line and be taken out one by one.  This meant a great deal of waiting, and much engineering of sandcastles and holes.  It was their least favourite day, but they learned a great deal about rips and troughs and gullies.

I learned that there is no bag big enough to carry all the crap you need to take three kids surfing.

Bag packing entered the realms of the ridiculous. 
I learned that zinc is cool again.  Maybe it always was and I didn't realise.

I learned that one towel per child is not enough when one of them gets out and dries themselves three times with three different towels in the first 30 minutes.

I learned that even though it may be 28 degrees, hot chocolates are necessary after surfing lessons.

I learned that while you try to photograph one child standing on a wave, that child will fall off, while at the same time another one will be having the ride of their life all the way into the beach and you will miss it.

I'm pretty sure this is one of my children.  Possibly the youngest.
I learned that when your kids are taken 'out the back' on a reasonably rough day, you will spend long periods of time without sighting them.  This causes you to take up the 'concerned mother pose', where you gaze out to sea for long periods of time, yearning in the direction you last spotted them, and trying to remember the colour of the board they were on.

A perfect example of concerned mother pose.  

Look, it got us out of the house, and onto the beach.  And they can surf better than they could before, which was not at all.  So that's something isn't it?






Sunday, 9 February 2014

The party's over people.

Not any more I'm afraid. 
It's time to get serious.

Because it's been a long silly season, with no seriousness at all.

It started a long time ago.  Three months in fact.  Halloween, I believe.  This was the evening where, after we returned from trick or treating, my lovely neighbour, and my awesome friend and I decided it was time to open the champs and pull out the nibbles.  Not wanting to be exclusive, we did so on a trestle table outside our houses.  This created a street party atmosphere and we were joined by quite a few passers by for a quick beverage or three.

Skeletons and ghosts hung eerily from our scaffolding, and a good night was had by all.

Since that fateful day, we have cracked a bottle of champs, unwrapped a cheese and opened a packet of crackers many, many times.  During November, there was Melbourne Cup, my birthday, end of year drinks for various sports and activities, end of school year drinks at peoples houses, family get togethers, BBQs, spontaneous meals with friends etc etc.

During December things got a little more hardcore with a continuation of the end of year activities plus a few parties and work functions.  By the time we left for Christmas in QLD we'd given up our alcohol free days rule (3-4 days per week) were having a drinkie pretty much every day.  We clinked glasses with friends and family, we tried lemon and lime in Coronas, we experimented with long and short glasses for G&Ts.

A lunchtime beer was rare but not unheard of.  Just the one.

New Years was a hoot.  Except I wanted to go to bed at 10:30 and the kids insisted on staying up til midnight.  What's going on there?  The tables are turning I feel.

Lots of kids busy having fun. 
Fun!  Oh yes.  The kids spent hours playing, swimming and not being told to go to bed.  The days were long, the holiday feeling was strong.  

Cue 10 days at Boomerang Beach with several families and up the ante to a full antipasto spread every evening.  Followed by a BBQ.

The kids began to rebel against sausages.  They refused kebabs.  They wanted casseroles, they wanted pasta.  Issy occasionally had to put herself to bed.

Late January continued in the same vein of fun, especially because the kids were still on holidays.  With no need to rush anywhere in the mornings, there was no need to end the evening early.  So we didn't.  I ate cheese and crackers for dinner approximately every second night.  Dips, nuts, olives, pate, lavash crackers, bread sticks, turkish bread, pita chips, water crackers, your jatz, your ritz, your clix.

You simply cannot subsist on a diet like this and not start to pack it on.  And pack it on I have.  I kept on running through the entire period, and tried to be disciplined about it, but the exercise was nothing against the wave of food I was putting into myself.

I can only wonder at how enormous I would be if I hadn't kept running.  I did eat salad with my BBQ, surely that counts for something.

Training for my second Coastrek has continued over the holidays and done a bit for my fitness if nothing for my waistline. Although I am ashamed to report that I have twice walked while cruelly hungover.  Once I did 30kms feeling much the worse for wear.  But what else can you do?  Lying in bed just makes you feel sorry for yourself, and getting up and walking at least felt like I was doing something remotely good and healthy for myself and my poor body.

Plus, Coastrek walks are the best.  You chat, you discuss, you dissect, you analyse.  Very occasionally you husband bash.  But not very often.   Because they are quite nice husbands.

During January, Mike and I also lived it up on a weekend away in Melbourne.  Here he is at the airport .  Yes, there is champs and beer.  Surprise!

Melbourne was so awesome I think it deserves a post of its own.   
Our last hurrah was on Australia Day, with two BBQs within 200m of our house (opposite directions).  Both where the champagne flowed and the guests were simpatico.  Goodness it was fun.  But we woke up the day after and started listening to our livers.

And so, after three months of eating and drinking almost exactly what I wanted, whenever I wanted, I've realised it has to stop.  So, Febfast.  And cheesefast.

For the entire month of February, I am not drinking alcohol.  And I am not eating soft cheese and trying to seriously limit all those other yummy nibbly foods which formed my main diet for two months.  During which time I learned lessons such as, a light cruskit is only as good as its toppings.  And when speaking of toppings, pink dip and brie do not really cut it in terms of health food.

Confession: last night at Bjorn Again at the Zoo I ate one cracker with soft cheese.  Just one.  Forgive me.  The rest of the time I was all crudit├ęs and hommus and ginger beer with a slice of lime (Moscow Mule without the vodka).

With 3 weeks to go for Coastrek I know I'm not as prepared as last year, but I think it's enough to get through.  It just better not rain because I'm not sure if I have the mental fortitude to do another one in the rain.

So with the silly season lasting 1/4 of the year, I hope a mere month can detoxify me enough to do my overworked liver some good, and maybe even drop a few kilos?

Although I never said anything about chocolate...



Thursday, 6 February 2014

Riding in cars with boys

Bloodthirsty little bugger. 
In 2010 we took the sensible step of moving closer to our local primary school.  We reasoned that we still had 10 years of attendance at the school and it was much easier for the kids (and me) to be within easy walking distance.

It worked beautifully for three wonderful years.

Then we decided to send Josh to a school 10km away, at least two and possibly four years before we really had to.  Because we are (as I've said before) bonkers. 

Now Josh is only 8, just starting year 3. He's a bit young to be thrown straight into the bus system, so we are easing into it.  And of course, we started up a car pool.  

Because, as you all know, I LOVE a car pool.  Luckily the parents of the other two kids starting from our area were as keen to car pool as we were.  Because what's not to love?  

So for the last two weeks at 7:25 someone has picked up Josh and whisked him away to school, leaving the girls and I in a pure girl environment until 8:50, bereft of shooting noises and fart jokes.  

Or we all have left the house at 7:20am, passing by a selection of kind friends who are willing to hold my girl children until they can be released into the wild, and at 7:25 and 7:27, pick up Josh's two local mates.  These two boys went to another school together before coming to this new one but they have been very inclusive of my lad and for this alone I love them.  

Once collected we then head towards one of the exit roads for our suburb.  There are several of these, all joining the big artery road that leaves the Northern Beaches, crosses the Spit Bridge and heads towards the city.  At 7:30 it is a very clogged artery and it takes a while to escape our suburb and join its city bound flow.  Having four in the car means we can take the transit lane which theoretically makes our journey faster.  

Faster only in comparison to those not in the transit lane.  Not faster than other things, for example, tortoises and snails.  

So this trip, (which in no traffic takes about 20 minutes) is more than doubled at peak hour.  And the boys, trapped in the back of the car, get a tiny bit restless.  

So they shoot things.  Mostly other cars, sometimes pedestrians.  Never cyclists (cause one of the boys Dad's rides to work and it might be him) and not usually motorcyclists unless they are fat (their words not mine- no idea why).  

The reasons for being shot are vague but I have noticed the following trends:

If you jaywalk, you get shot.

If you have only one person in your car, you're shot.

Buses get shot, especially those with other school kids on them.  (nice)

You can arm yourself with an imaginary gun, grenade launcher, machine gun or bomb.  You can order your fellow shooters to only attack people with backpacks, or just red cars, or don't shoot that truck!  They are unlikely to hear you because they're shouting similar things back at you, or they're busy making incredibly realistic noises related to their weapon. 

You never ever miss.  Ever.  You can tell your mate they missed, but they just ignore you.  

You never run out of ammunition.  

You are completely unphased by your own bloodthirsty tendencies.  

I just turn up Fitzy and Wippa and go to my happy place. 

After a while, pretending to shoot or blow up anything that moves starts to lose it's excitement, so you then start lying through your teeth to your mates about how many M rated movies you've seen and how many M rated games you've played.  

According to them, they've played and seen them all.  Knowing at least one of them as I do, and the others even a tiny bit, I call bullshit.  

NB: He has watched the Lord of the Rings and two Hobbits.  Everything else is PG.  Except for the time at our friends place when he watched The Dark Knight Rises (they had older kids) without my knowledge.  

I have learnt that Grown Ups 2 is M and has nudity.  The idea of which is gross and caused a lot of vomit noises from the back seat.  No one had actually watched Grown Ups 2, they'd just heard about it.  None of them are EVER planning to watch a movie with nudity.  

Once this subject is exhausted it's time to start shooting again.  Countless defenceless commuters and pedestrians (but not cyclists) lose their imaginary lives in the final sweep through the back of Neutral Bay.  

And finally, they emerge from the car, small boys again, ready for another day.  Looking neat and innocent in their uniforms, with ties and hat on, shoes still shiny because it's only the second week.  Anyone passing would never realise the carnage they caused on the way to school.  Even only in their heads.

Now some might say I should stop them from playing this.  It's wrong and violent and Maybe I should.  I doubt that I could actually stop them, they would just go undercover, making a gun with thumb and forefinger like they have done for years and shooting on regardless.  Josh has been picking up sticks and aiming them since he was 4, maybe even 3.  

I could try to engage them in conversation, or attempt to start an alphabet game but honestly?  

I think I'll let this one go and hope they tire of it really really soon.