Thursday, 31 January 2013

Acts of stupendous laziness

Lazy, I am.  I'm so lazy, I can't even construct the first sentence of this post properly.

I love a short cut, easy street, the quick fix, a no brainer.

I hate the person who said "to every complex problem, there is an answer which is simple, neat...and wrong".  Oh Come ON.

What a spoilsport they were.

The following heinous acts of laziness exemplify my attitude.

Often when cleaning up the bazillions of little crumbs which escape from the bottom of the toaster, instead of thinking "Gee I must open that little trap door thingie and give it a good clean.", I think "Stuff it, I think I'll just get another toaster".  And I would.  Just watch me.

See, stupid crumbs.  Always the crumbs. 
Instead of cleaning the terrible ink stain on the couch cushion, I just flipped it over.  Unfortunately this revealed the terrible red wine stain, so I'm in a bit of a bind there.

(I'm afraid I can't bring myself to photo the ink stain,  it is the worst thing I've ever seen)

I had to ask my husband where the vacuum cleaner was.  It's been six months since I've used the damn thing.  He didn't know either, but together we found it.

There he is!! Was hiding. 
The towels hanging out to dry on the balcony from the pool swimming of the last couple of days are still out there, waving limply in the rising wind, saturated from the rain.  I have no intention of bringing them in any time soon, and am hoping Mike will crack first.

Talk about your contrasting weather patterns. 
Despite knowing training for Coastrek is crucial, knowing it's possible we will have to walk 50km in rainy, windy weather and it wouldn't hurt to practice in it, on Sunday I rolled over and went back to sleep, utterly absolved of guilt, after replying instantly, in full agreement to the text message that came in at 6am suggesting we cancel.

Like we'd go out in that.  
And finally...back when toilet training the kids I would often just throw out soiled undies rather than deal with the revoltingness of rinsing and washing.  Heck I've thrown out entire outfits.  I don't think I'm alone here.

 (It would be totally sick to show you a photo of this, presuming I was sick enough to have anything to photograph).

There are more, many more.  But I think that's enough embarrassing revelations for one day don't you?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The long kiss goodbye: Kindy starters 2013

The school starters.  Notice the missing child.  
Any sentimental foolishness that may rise up in me, with the knowledge my youngest, my baby is leaving me for 13 years of institutionalised education will be fully and thoroughly stamped out of me by the time she turns up for her first day.

Here's how the next few days roll:

Wednesday: Years 1-6 start school.  Now I understand there's a lot of admin and organisation to get a school like ours (600+ kids and 27 classes including a new OC class) back, sorted into classes and classrooms etc and I would never think the Kindy kids would start the first day.

And they don't.

Neither do they start the second, third or fourth.

Not until the big kids go for their fifth day, are the Kindy's allowed to go.  FIVE DAYS!

Sorry, I digress.

Thursday:  Kindy kids attend a 'meet the teacher' session from 9:30-10:30.  Parents go to the hall to learn how to 'pack healthy treats the kids will eat' or something and possibly be compelled to sign up for P&C, uniform shop, canteen and class mum.  All important stuff, but surely the kids could do more than an hour? Like 6?

Thursday/Friday/Monday: Each child is allocated a time for a little assessment.  A bit of counting, name writing, colouring and alphabeting I expect.  It takes 2.5 days for each teacher to test each child in their class.  Couldn't possibly be done any other time (like periodically last year or gradually over the first term?).

Guess not.  Fair enough.  I am no expert at school admin or organisation.  I just know this is not happening at other schools.  The kindys start later, but maybe a day later.  Or two.  Not FIVE.

This means I still have my precious little school starter, who just wants to get out there, with me for 4 extra days.  No preschool, no childcare. Just the kindness of friends so I can do a bit of work.  How the full time working parents or those with less flexible employers than me manage this boggles my mind.

Finally, next Tuesday, we are allowed to send them.  For the first week only 9:30-2:30.  So those of us with older kids get to hang around at school for an extra hour each day waiting for school to start, and then to finish.  I cannot see the point of this.

So by Tuesday morning, I won't be sentimental at all.  And neither will she.  We'll be sick of the sight of each other.  Both ready to enter our 'other' worlds without any further style cramping.

It totally takes the fun, the emotion, the grandeur, the build up out of starting school.  It's now an over managed, careful, politically correct process.

Meh to that.

Ps.  In todays school newsletter, the principal had the temerity to suggest the Kindy kids are, in fact, starting school tomorrow.  Because meeting the teachers and doing a half hour assessment is so much like them being at school.  Please.  Delay the start for four days but please don't treat us like idiots.  Until I don't have to arrange care for my kids during school hours, they are not 'at school'.

Rant over.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Burns Night: How have I missed this gem?

Och Aye Robbie.  So young and pink of cheek.  
I am gutted.

Totally devastated.

To think I have, until now been totally in ignorance of Burns Day.  A day to dress up in kilts and long red wigs and play the bagpipes and eat haggis.

Clearly, all my favourite things in one place...not.  Yet, strangely compelling.  Based on Facebook activity from that evening, everyone was going to one, except me.  The costumes were hilarious.

Robbie Burns is a famous Scottish poet who died at the very young age of 38 leaving behind him (as well as a wife and small children) an impressive work of poetry and songs.

His birthday was 25 January 1759.  The night before Australia Day.  And I missed it.

He's the guy who wrote Auld Lang Syne.

He wrote a poem called Ode To A Haggis, which runs to about 8 verses.  Who'd have thought you could write so much about a haggis?  And it includes the word spew.  Who'd have thought you could use the word spew in a respected poem.  In the 18th Century.  Spew has been around as a word for over 300 years.

Wow.  I've no idea why this excited me so much, but it does.

And when you host a Burns night, there's an order of procedings you must follow.  It's very strict.

Not only do you have to eat haggis, you have to recite the Ode to it.   If I'm hosting one, I'm thinking of replacing the main course and just hoping that Robbie doesn't turn in his grave.

A haggis, in the traditional sense is a sheep's heart, liver and lungs, cooked with onion, oatmeal, spices and stock, all wrapped up in the poor sheep's stomach.  These days they serve them in sausage skin rather than stomachs.  Like that makes a difference to the total revoltingness.

I love the idea of Burns night, but the haggis bit concerns me.  Mike likes haggis, which is also a concern.  Because it's offal.  

Here is the outline of how the evening should flow.  It has a strict traditional order, a version of which I've set out below, inspired by Wikipedia.

Start of the evening: welcome your guests, give them a Scotch whisky (could I substitute champs?) and let them mingle.

Host's welcoming speech: tell everyone how glad you are they came, laugh at everyone's kilts and wigs, throw in nae, and bonnie and other vaguely scottish phrases.  Anyhoo?

Supper: Even though you get to start with something tasty like Scotch Broth, this is where you have to eat the haggis.  This bit worries me, am seriously considering a nice lamb roast as mentioned above.  Don't want to lose authenticity, but don't want to 'spew' either.

Before you eat, you all have to stand up as it's brought in, accompanied by bagpipe music, and you must say this Grace, which some attribute to Burns, and others say he just made some adjustments to.

'Some hae meat and canna eat
And some wad eat that want it:
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.'

Very nice.  Straight to the point.  Be grateful people.

Then you have to recite the Ode to the Haggis.  It basically disses every other food as fit only for livestock and says haggis is the only thing you'd ever want to eat.

Each to their own yes?
Yuck. Just...yuck.
Supper: Lamb? Not haggis? Still sheep related.  Should I write an Ode to Lamb?  I am not talented in this regard.  It's supposed to come with mashed potato (taties) and turnips (neeps).

Immortal Memory: someone gets up and talks about Burns, his poems, songs or makes a recitation.  Nice.

Appreciation: The host gets up and says thanks to the Immortal Memory person. 

Toast to the Lassies: Traditionally the womenfolk are thanked for all their hard work in preparing the meal. Assuming of course, these days, that it was the women.  This bit can get a bit cheeky.  Therefore there must be a response.

Reply to the toast to the Lassies: One of those hard working womenfolk give it right back to the men. 

Works by Burns: Anyone who fancies can get up and recite something by the great man.  Just in writing this blog, I've come across some of his stuff, and a great deal of it is quite rude, with references to all sorts of body parts and acts I had not associated with poetry.  I like the man.  

Closing: The host brings the evening to a close.  Tells everyone to stop drinking their expensive whiskey and go home.  

Are you still with me?  If you are, expect an invitation for next years event.  No haggis, promise.  

Monday, 28 January 2013

If I never see another sausage again it will be too soon.

Excellent value too.  
While we're on the subject of BBQ's, today we attended a different kind to our Australia Day extravaganza.

Today, we went fundraising.

Mike is the treasurer of our son's rugby club.  He is a rugby man from way back, son of a dedicated, rugby obsessed Kiwi, living and breathing the game for his entire childhood.  Playing for his school, his state, at uni, well into his twenties, when the pressure of being a 5'6" hooker eventually took its toll.

To this day, he has a very dodgy neck.  And an Osteopath.

Even though it's still summer, the rego days for local winter clubs will be held over the next few weeks.  Soccer, Netball, Hockey and of course, Rugby.

So the enterprising fundraising guy for our club thought it would be a fine idea to run a BBQ at our local Bunnings (fresh and new and recently opened).

Bunnings have an excellent approach to this, they give you the gas and the BBQ and a marquee thingie, you supply your snags and bread and keep the profits for your club or cause or whatever.

Look! There's a queue!!
A few sausage turning volunteers on the roster and away you go.  How can you go wrong?

So this morning when we awoke to pouring rain, we both wondered how a rainy day affects the busy-ness of a Bunnings.  Did the weekend warriors decide to start a DIY project inside because they couldn't do the outdoor activities they'd planned?  Or did they not come because they had been wanting to finish that thing in the garden and now they couldn't and were going to the movies instead?

Only time would tell.

Mike took the kids up at 8:30 so they could help set up.  Sarah was keen as mustard, and was deemed big enough to be in charge of selling tokens for sausages and soft drink.   Her mental arithmetic skills were put to the test and she passed (whew!).  We were really proud of her and she was proud of herself.    Unfortunately her brother, the actual rugby player in the family, heartily resented being made to work for his club and whinged and carried on a good deal.  This caused Mike (and I when I got there) to become sick and tired of his attitude.

Don't be misled, he just got behind the counter for the photo. 
What is it with kids these days?

Issy stayed home with me, my planned 27km Coastrek practice walk being called off due to torrential rain (aawwwww shame).  When we did go up to pick up the kids, she excelled herself by drinking her first ever whole 375ml can of soft drink in record time and needing to wee three times in one hour.

Another compelling reason not to let them have soft drink right there.

After a quiet start, things started hotting up at about 10:30 and the BBQ, when I last saw it an hour ago, was going great guns, doing a fantastic trade in sausages over the lunchtime hour.

Bunnings traffic inside reflected the weather, with a great deal of action in storage, lighting, paint and building materials, while outdoor furniture and gardening were a bit quiet.

Dotted around the store was a petting zoo, jumpy castle, two face painters and a magician.

Clever Bunnings knows their market indeed.

And the fundraiser?  After a big day of hard word by a dedicated crew, the treasurer will pronounce the official financial result later this evening, but it sure looked good to me.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Australia Day without tomato sauce.

Of course it was a BBQ.  Down at the beach.  With a bunch of top people.  Classic.

When we arrived at 4pm, you could barely see any grass or sand, there were so many other groups with the same idea as us.  

I always pack for BBQs with a sinking heart, because I always forget something totally vital.  Luckily we don't often go alone, and have ultra organised friends who can fill the gap.  And sometimes we have been able to supply something someone else has forgotten, making me feel a little less hopeless.

It's amazing though, the things I forget, which should be blindingly obvious.  I think I need a BBQ tub which is always stocked with the necessities.

Last night, I remembered the paper towel, a sharp knife and plastic plates and cups for the kids (last time I forget all these).  However I forgot the TOMATO SAUCE (oh most Australian of condiments), left the dips and cheese in the fridge and didn't bring any spray oil.

On the bench.  Not at the park.  Of all the things to forget...
Forgetting the tomato sauce on Australia day may be one of the most unAustralian things anyone could do.  I'm lucky I wasn't arrested.

We joined the group, poured drinks, and I began to get out our nibblies, before realising I'd forgotten the dips/cheese.  Sheepishly I added our crackers to the pile and epitomised the name of this blog.

I forgot to put out the chips too, so eager was I to sip a glass of bubbles with my mates.  Luckily no-one starved.

It was so busy, we couldn't get near the common BBQ, requiring an emergency drive home by a couple of the menfolk (in hunter mode) to track down a portable version.  They returned in good order, with a Barbie and two nearly empty gas bottles (isn't it always the way?) and proceeded to get their tongs out.

Get your tongs out people.
And your thongs...
A plethora of snags and chops hit the hotplate, surrounded by a few more delicate offerings including chicken kebabs and haloumi (ours- am currently addicted- yes I know it's not diet food).     

We shared meat, offered salads, peeled prawns (yum), fed kids protein on a roll, tried to sneak some veg in (it was getting dark so we hoped they didn't see).

One very clever family brought sushi for dinner, requiring no BBQ.

The kids swam and ran, plastered themselves in tattoos, climbed trees and screamed and threw sand, were shouted at admonished for throwing sand, swam, tried to ride surfboards at a harbour beach and made a volcano sandcastle.  This list is not exhaustive.

Sarah chose her cheek, Issy, her decolletage.  I do worry about that child. 
When we left at full dark there were still an amazing amount of people there, although the dominant demographic had changed and we were definitely no longer it.

Packing up a BBQ/picnic which has been attended by 30+ people in the dark, is tricky and requires much attention to detail.

Even so, at least four grown adults (of which I was one) stopped packing up briefly in order to compare their iphone torch apps.  We showed each other our strobing, and waved them in the air, pretending we were in the mosh pit, before our clamouring children brought us back to the task at hand...going home.

It's a strange world we live in yes?

We threw the poor exhausted offspring straight into bed when we got home (after 9).  Because we forgot to wash them, the sand in their beds is reminiscent of the Boomerang Beach experience.  It's hard to rinse kids down after the beach when it's pitch black, and quite frankly, putting them in the shower when we got home just never occurred to me.

It would have been a clever move.  So would bringing the tomato sauce.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

When Big Business Got So Big It Forgot The Little People

Excellent turnout.

Tonight I, along with a fair sized chunk of the local community, attended a meeting.

It was intended to allow the exchange of information and consultation between Telstra and the locals, because Telstra want to place an antenna to enhance it's mobile network, at the top of an electricity pole outside our local shops.

The antenna would apparently, emit low level non ionising radiation 24/7.    On the pole, they are supposed to put a sign like this.

This symbol warns of a radiation hazard.
Cheerful isn't it.   
Now this radiation is not the stuff of nuclear warfare and disaster that has caused a great deal of illness, death, malformation and anguish.  That is ionising radiation.  What we are dealing with, from the top of this tower, is non ionising radiation.  Which means...?  Well no one really knows.  Hence the sign.

According to the propeller head expert Telstra brought in tonight, this type of radiation is totally fine at the levels the antenna is emitting.  He showed us lots of boring slides and talked in a boring voice.  He showed the community nothing but contempt and disrespect, in every answer, to every question he was asked.  He face was a permanent smirk.

But of course, his kids bedrooms aren't 6 metres from the antenna are they?

He was clearly planted by Telstra, chosen for his abrasive personality, allowing someone other than the Telstra rep to be the bad guy.  We weren't fooled.  We knew they were all bad guys (actually 8 bad guys and 1 token bad girl).

The truth is (and Telstra is honest about this at least) no-one knows the long term impacts of these type of antennae.  The oldest ones that are like this proposed one are only ten years old.  There is no data beyond this.  The long term effects could be heinous and devastating, or they could be nothing.

But why take the risk?

Telstra want to improve their service.  People complain about their service in the area.  I am one of them.  But I'm not so invested in my service that I'm willing to risk the long term health of those living close to the antenna.  I could pick up a landline.  I could move to my balcony to take a call.  I could email.

Yes I know I'm not running a business that depends on a reliable phone line.  But there were business owners there, all the local ones.  All against it.

The result was (as I understood it anyway) that Telstra said they would not put up the antenna if there was a majority of the local community against it.  They then failed to define how that majority would be calculated.  Certainly if it was a majority of the community attending the meeting, there's no way it's going up.  When asked for a show of hands against, the whole room threw their hands up.  When asked who was for it, a tumbleweed rolled across the room.

And then, if it does not go ahead, there is the contentious issue of where else to put the antenna?  Many, many local landowners have refused to have it on their property.  If Telstra can't use an existing tower to put their antenna on, they have to build a tower from scratch, get planning permission, more approval, more community consultation.  They are so close with this antenna, they have put in all the infrastructure, they just need to place the antenna.  It's hard to imagine them stopping now.

Because what's perhaps the most incredible thing, they are legally allowed to place it.  With no council approval.  In a council which loves nothing more than a good development application, there is nothing required from Telstra for this, rather major, addition.  The pole belongs to Ausgrid, and if they say ok, it's ok.  Telstra had to get community support, which it said it had (it hadn't) and was ready to go ahead.

A few wonderful, motivated individuals have driven the fight.  They have been working tirelessly printing brochures, gathering community support, phoning, texting, one even chained himself to the pole.  Their determination is catching, and whatever the result, they have done a brilliant job of rallying the community against the arrogance of big business.

Telstra, shame on you.

Well, thats my rant.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Musical Children

So happy together.  Photos are amazing. 
And no, I don't mean I have highly talented child musicians.  I mean like the game musical chairs.

Every day we wake up, we eat breakfast.  So far so normal.

Then, because it's holidays, someone will ask what we are doing today.  It is rare for anyone to ask the day before.  They all seem to like the surprise.  Then, if I tell them we are having a quiet day, they ask for a playdate.  I resist for a while, enjoying the idea of just having my offspring (who I can ignore when they fight) and then give in to the nagging (it is nice having someone round).

But what to do?  If everyone gets a friend over, that's 6 kids.  It can get a bit hectic.

Sometimes, especially at this, the tail end of the holidays, I send them to activities, which they don't like as much as staying at home, but I don't normally send them to torture chambers, just tennis camp and vacation care at the school which has fun activities like Skater Days, Laser Tag and Wet and Wild Fun.

If I do farm them out, it's in my best interests to pre arrange a friend to attend the same thing.  Or the separation can be tricky.  Especially with my lad.

When they were younger I could send him anywhere as long as Sarah was going.  They would trot off, happy with the novelty of a day of activities.  If possible I would arrange for them to go with friends, partly because of the car pooling opportunities (and y'all know how I love a good car pool) but it wasn't a showstopper if I didn't.

These days they never want to go unless there is a confirmed friend.  Drives me mad.  So this morning when he didn't know anyone at tennis he cried his way there, and clung to me like he was half his age until I tore myself away and told him in a fierce whisper how long I'd confiscate his ipod for if he didn't leave me and go and join the group RIGHT NOW.

Issy stood beside him, equally friendless, yet completely unworried, leaning on her racquet and saying nonchalantly "C'mon Josh you'll meet someone, C'MON JOSH, Mum needs to go."

I did.  I had to work.  A new concept for all of us, which adds a new level of urgency to our departure.

BTW Issy can be annoying but she is also a bit of a trouper.

Anyhoo, I digress as usual.  What I meant to say was, usually when they do return from one of these activities where there is a friend involved, they always ask for a playdate.  It's like a reflex.

This afternoon I collected Sarah and three mates from a cheerleading day and on the way home they tried for the 4 way playdate, and eventually when practicality prevailed, settled to divide into pairs for the final few hours of the day, just to eke out their togetherness.

On the days when we do stay at home, between the kids around the corner and the kids up the road, and the last minute text arrangements, I have ended up with as many as 8 kids at my house, or once or twice, when the stars align, none.

You can't even run into another parent at the shops without ending up walking away with an extra kid. Or them with one of yours.

I'm not complaining, it is a wonderful community, village raising a child feeling, even if it sometimes does get very confusing.  But so far we've all ended up with the right number of kids in the evening so someone must be on the ball.

Oh, I forgot, the sleepovers! All the sleepovers.  I've packed Sarah's sleepover bag about 5 times these hols.  And I feel bad because I've only got the sleepover mattress out 3 times.  Which means I'm in sleepover debt.  If only I could remember who I owe them to.  It's a bit of a blur.

And again.  It's uncanny, and bears almost no relation to reality. 
Joshie, true to form, has no desire for a sleepover.  If he is ever asked, he says he just likes home.

Issy will sleep anywhere.  I hope she grows out of this before she becomes a teenager and develops an interest in boys.

So we are a week out from school resuming and tomorrow for the first time, they are all going to the same place dropped by me, and being picked up by me at the same place.  Unheard of.  

Monday, 21 January 2013

I am Lego genius

Our boy loves lego.  He's been obsessed since he was about 4.  Maybe 3.  He was all about Thomas the Tank Engine from about 14 months until 3 1/2, then Ben 10 for a little while, but since he turned 4, Lego has been his abiding passion.  He loves it all, but reserves special passion for Star Wars, with a bit of a sidetrack to Aliens, Ninjago, Monsters and recently, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  

City and Castle have never held his interest.  Not enough fighting.  

Mike mainly puts it all together.  A Lego lover from way back, he doesn't mind sitting there finding tiny pieces and inserting them into impossible configurations.  But sometimes he hits the wall.  Josh is getting better, but he gets frustrated and gives up. 

And so, unfortunately for me, the Lego- Mines of Moria Josh received from Mr Claus has remained unassembled for nearly a month.  Until today, when I finally cracked and told him I'd do it.  

Talk about tedious.  All the bits are tiny, and you really can't tell where it's all going for most of the assembly.  Its only at the end you can say aaaahhh, and realise you were indeed all along constructing a column, a set of doors or (in the case of Star Wars) a massive spaceship thingie.  

By the time you have finished, your Lego fanatic has shown himself to be a bit of a lightweight because usually he's mysteriously vanished, only peeping back in occasionally to ask how things are going.  Distant shooting noises indicate he is staying close enough to keep an eye on things, but not so close that he might get recruited.  

And of course, by now, I have a personal vendetta against the damn thing and won't get up until it's done.  And can't get up anyway cause my legs are asleep.  

So it started like this, lots of grey stuff in a bag. 

Tipped out, it looks like this.  Note coffee in corner.  Josh kicked it over about 30 seconds after photo was taken. 

45 pages of instructions.  FORTY FIVE!!!  I was catatonic by the end.
But look! I did it.  Not bad?
And finally, the finished product.
The box came with a dirty great giant troll, carrying a massive club.  I suspect this is 85% of the reason Josh wanted it.  It also came with quite a few little figures, including a Frodo and a Legolas.  And lots of weapons like axes, swords and daggers.  It's Josh heaven.

Now I just need to get on with the puzzle you can see in the background.  It's a map of the world.  300 pieces.  Yes, he's abandoned that too and yes I am obsessed.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Coastrek. The who, the why, the what the hell


It's only been in recent years that I've really been interested in getting and keeping fit, and I can honestly say I am about 500% fitter now at 41 than I was at 21.

At 21 I was soft, squashy, lardy.

I've toyed with swimming and running (slow jogging) over the years, I've settled lately into a routine of mainly jogging, with a bit of yoga.

So now, it's time to see how fit I really am. And while we're at it, how mentally tough.

On 1 March I'm walking with a team of most fabulous ladies 50km from Palm Beach to Balmoral as part of Coastrek, a yearly charity walk which raises funds for The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Fred Hollows was a rare and talented individual, blessed with both the desire to get out of his comfort zone to help others, and the medical skills to make a difference once he got there.  He was instrumental in creating a level of awareness about avoidable blindness, which afflicts 39 million individuals world wide.

4 out of 5 of these people could have their sight restored, it's not a complex procedure at all.  But they lack cash and access to a qualified surgeon.  In most cases it's caused by cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye.  An operation to cure cataracts can cost as little as $25.


The money raised by the Foundation enables education of local doctors, trains them and other staff in the procedure and funds the facilities which provide the service.  Every person who is cured returns to their family and village no longer blind, and able to contribute to the livelihoods of themselves and their families.


It's hard to be a cynical old biatch faced with cause like this.  So we are walking, and walking, and walking.  We are discovering more and more about ourselves and one another with every walk.  We are talking and talking and listening and listening, and interrupting too.  Sometimes (not often) we are silent.  Sometimes we whinge, other times we marvel at the beauty of the part of Australia we inhabit.  We speak of our families, our children, our work, hopes and dreams.  We are outraged.  We are empathetic.  We coach each other.  We peak and trough.

Our feet hurt.

And it's all for Fred and the people he wanted to help, who he still helps today, thanks to an incredible vision...about vision.

If this post makes you feel anything at all, even nauseated with the cheesiness, please, to shut me up, go to our donation page and give us a bit of cash to give to Fred.  Here is the link.

Thank you.  We all thank you.  By the way, our team is the Desperate Heightswives.

And furthermore, in preparation for this tremendous act of physical endurance, we are all attempting Febfast.  We are not asking for sponsorship for this, but if you did have a yearning to sponsor someone for voluntarily coming off the grog for a month, please click on this link.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Six weeks, it goes faster than you think.

With less than two weeks to go of the holidays I am beginning to realise there are about 50 things I'd hoped to do (told myself we would do) that just aren't going to happen.

Luckily we have managed to do a fair bit of fun stuff, so I don't feel like a complete waste of space.  But each year I tell myself as the big summer holidays approach, that these are the things we need to do to really make our holiday time special, more fun, more relaxing.  Every time, the reality falls short.

They are almost always the same goals, or a variation of them.  I must subconsciously really want to do them.  But I never do.  

1. Let everyone stay in their pyjamas all day.  The big one, the holy grail of holidays. Often spoken of wistfully mid term.  

We're yet to do it.  We've always had to go somewhere, or someones absentmindedly dressed themselves.  Mainly we have to go somewhere, because I get twitchy if I stay home too long.   

2.  Sit with children and play in a focussed way with one or several of their Christmas presents. 
LEGO® Lord Of The Rings™ 9473 The Mines of Moria™
Lego: Mines of Moria lies on the dining table in lots of tiny pieces, waiting for me.  Poor Joshie had to give up after the first bit because it was doing his head in.  Can you imagine what it's going to do to MY head.  But I promised.  Maybe tomorrow.  Underneath that are two puzzles we started before Boomerang which we have only done the outlines of.  Sarah's big jewelery making kit is sitting on her desk.  Mainly gathering dust.  

3.  Surfing lessons.

If I had my way, this would be Josh.  He thinks not.  
I so wanted the kids to do surf lessons.  Josh especially is very wary of the ocean and I just think that having hair like that and not being a totally gnarly surfing gansta is a bit of a waste of hair.  So I'm forcing him out there whether he wants to or not.  Just not this week cause we're a bit busy.  Or next.  And then school starts...shit. 

4.  I was hoping for extra time to spend with the kids, reading together, listening to Sarah do some holiday saxophone practice, playing games, and just hanging about.  

The housework has not gone on holidays.  Everything still needs washing, dinner still needs cooking.  So every time a kid asks me if I can play Sky Landers, play with sticker books, come in the pool, take them somewhere, I have to stop filling the washing machine, unpacking the dishwasher or destroying the mysterious ants nest that appeared in the microwave while we were away.  Then I have to refuse them.  Usually I do it crossly, especially as the day draws to an end and they've spent the day asking me 50,000 questions, each.  And yes I KNOW I'm supposed be so much nicer, let the housework go and spend time with them.  

5. Go to the beach all the time.

It doesn't have to be this beach, which is a bit special, and far away.  Any beach will do.  
We all did this when we were away, but back at home I just don't do it enough.  We live walking distance from one beach and less than 10 minutes from about 10.  So what if I just had the car detailed and it's blissfully sand free? I need to get them out there.  And get the vacuum out later. 

Right, I have my five goals, still outstanding.  We have 12 days left of holidays.  Go me.  

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Not our best start to the year

Disaster.  I hope today was not a portent of the year to come.  Because it has not gone as planned.

Part of the problem, which isn't really a problem at all, is that I now have a real job.  Like, one I have to go to regularly.

It's at Chatswood, and it's only from 10-2, two days a week.  Easy yes?

'Fraid not.  While quite skilled in the area of getting three children out of the house by 9am, I am completely hopeless at also getting myself out, decently dressed, with make up on and sensible shoes (i.e. no Havianas).

I raced off at 8:50, leaving the house like a tip and deposited everyone at tennis camp/laser tag.  While dropping the girls off at tennis, a very kind mum who I'd just been introduced to told me quietly that my dress was inside out.  I thought Sarah would disown me.  I kissed my girls, whipped home and turned myself back the right way and zoomed off to Chatto.

Aah Chatswood.  Mini CBD and parking nightmare. 
Where I can't park near the office because it's a 2 hour limit.  By my calculations, one parking ticket will completely cancel out any money I might earn by working.  Sadly, it's not worth the risk.

The result? Add 15 minutes to my commute spent finding a park and walking to the office.  That's 1.5 hours of driving for 4 hours of work.

The working part is fine.  Totally fine.  The people are nice, there's air conditioning, the work is interesting and challenging.

Then at 2:10 (because I never ever get there at 10 so I have to make up my time) I rushed to my car and battle through the traffic to home.  I never seem to have more than 15 minutes there before I have to go and collect everyone from wherever they are.

The house still looked dreadful, just the way I left it.  This surprised me.  No idea why.  I guess somewhere deep down I'd still like to believe in fairies.

I also know the only way the house would be any different on my return was if I worked on a Tuesday and left out $100.  THEN, I would return to find it vastly cleaner, with a $5 note left behind, and a neat pile of unrelated plastic objects (a trash pack, hair clip, bracelet) on the ottoman, which I honestly wish they'd just vacuum up and save me the trouble of binning.

After 5 minutes at home frantically chopping vegetables and making toasted cheese sangers I sped off to collect Sarah and Issy from tennis.  Sarah was very excited, she had holiday gym practice at 3:30 so we couldn't dawdle.  She has really missed going to gym, I am always surprised at how much she loves it and I'm really proud of how committed she is.

Committed.  Gorgeous. 
We picked up her friend and drove up to gym.  It was eerily straightforward.  We even arrived on time.  I dropped them off quickly and drove away, straight into the traffic caused by a car accident on Pittwater Road.  Luckily I didn't get far, because I was almost immediately phoned by the gym.  Sarah's holiday practice was not today.  It was yesterday.  And tomorrow.  But most definitely not today.

Drove back.  Found sobbing child.  She sobbed and sobbed almost all the way home.  Said she had been frightened when she didn't see anyone she knew.  Said she was worried I wouldn't come back.  Sobbed some more.

Drowning in remorse and guilt I promised gym tomorrow, and said brightly that she could now come with us to swimming lessons which have restarted (in fact it's the second week, that's how crazy our swimming school is).  More sobbing, verging on hysterical.  I toyed with not going but the thought of wasting another $60 was too much for my frugal heart.  I held firm.  And she came around.

Emotionally exhausted, we went to swimming.  Emotionally and physically exhausted, we came home.  This first day was not a gentle entre into being back home, it was a full blown disaster zone.

Tomorrow we are taking a big step back.  Sort of.  Just hair cuts and school shoes.  Oh, and gym, for real this time.  Ok, maybe step back is the wrong word.

It's all a dream now.  Those long ago carefree days.
At least I don't have to drive to Chatswood.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Reality: Bite Me

So this morning we have come from this.

Wild and woolly and breathtaking.
To this.  
The kids helped me carry everything in from the car, but dumped it all right at the front door, making it impossible for me to enter.  I should have just left again.

We came via the city where lucky Mike was dropped at his office for his first day at work.  I hope the plumbing at Boomerang hasn't been damaged by the amount of facial hair he took off this morning.  I had to keep checking the clean shaven, handsome man wearing a suit, sitting next to me in the car and stopping myself from asking him what he'd done with my hairy husband in his board shorts and big hat.

At home, in the fridge, we found this charming little science experiment. 

What happens when  mango spends a week in a fridge, unsupervised and ungladwrapped.  Garnished with choc santa wrapping.  WTF?

Next, I learned the hard way, not to use Icy Poles as ice blocks in the fridge bag.  Unless you want to discover they have melted and escaped to cover your butter and milk in nasty, sticky, sugary gloop.  

Oh how we have fallen. And why did I think they wouldn't melt?  Was it the early hour?  Or am I that stupid all the time?  Don't answer. 
Empty Icy Pole wrappers.  Pathetic.
 And later this afternoon, we all went to the supermarket for what seemed like hours.  More cruel reality. As we trawled the aisles, I received a text from one of our friends who are still up in paradise telling me people had moved into our little beach house.  Feelings of outrage were quickly followed by utter defeat.  There was no going back.

The supermarket.  Heinous place it is. 
We sucked it up, made appointments for hair cuts, eye checks, decided on a school shoe shopping time slot and set up a couple of playdates.

No cheese and crackers, no champs.  Just vege juice, chicken rice paper rolls and sparkling mineral water.

It's not bad really.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The Day Darkness Fell On Paradise

Darkness falls.  Eerie Lake Shot.

This morning at 4:45 am the power went off.  At the time, we were all sleeping soundly in our little beach house thing, with the air con going and the fans in both bedrooms on high.  So when the power failed, it created a sudden absence of noise so loud, it woke up Mike (who fondly believes himself to be a much lighter sleeper than me but who also managed to pretend to sleep through his crying babies and toddlers for their entire baby and toddlerhood). 
Perhaps he is a selective light sleeper.  

Anyways, he checked the time before going back to sleep, so as to better tell me in the morning the latest amazingly loud noise I have slept through that isn’t a crying child.

Two hours later we all awoke to a powerless holiday house.   A check of the fuse and a quick text to another family (who live less than 15m away) informed us it wasn’t just our house, but the whole complex and local neighbourhood.  A cool change had brought heavy thunderstorms, big winds and presumably, these had combined to stuff up the power source in the surrounding area. 

My first thought?  But I need a coffee!  Can you blame me?

At about 9am after cereal for breakfast, no tea, no toast and lots of shouting at anyone who dared open the fridge for more than 1 second, we all lost Telstra service.  This final injustice put us firmly in the dark ages.  Frightened and isolated, we huddled together, lamenting the lack of TV, internet and caffeine. 

Sorry kids, no TV.  
The office had no news.  The official word was: No idea, sorry.

The wind blew, the trees dripped, the power stayed off.  Our Nespresso machine mocked us in the corner.

Then Mike started making noises about leaving late this afternoon.  We are due to depart at sparrows tomorrow and drive him straight to work and I had to agree it made sense on a practical level to leave early, especially if the power remained out.  We would miss our final dinner with our friends, so I wasn’t keen.  But he was right, dammit. 

I negotiated a timeframe, if it wasn’t on by 3pm we would go at 5pm.  And I started packing up anyway as our stuff wasn’t going to pack itself, no matter when we were leaving.

One of the families we are holidaying with couldn’t stand the primitive conditions any longer and decamped to Forster, which remained in the 21st Century with light, power and coffee machines.  There they sipped espresso coffee and juice, while back at Boomerang Beach we continued to shout at the kids not to open the fridge, fiddled with our useless technology and asked reception (again) when the power would come back on. 

Answer: No idea.  “They” were working on it. 

Gosh they were miserable. They had to play outside and swim, poor little things. 
The weather was windy and cool, but the pool was warm and empty (quite a weird sight after the previous week’s multitudes).  The kids went for a swim and had loads of fun, and we discovered from reception that both power and Telstra lay tantalisingly close, in the nearby hamlet of Smith’s Lake.  A rescue party set out, to secure takeaway coffee from the Frothy Coffee Boatshed.  

As we sipped our coffees by the pool a man ran up to us, and demanded to know where we had hunted and gathered our coffee.  We told him we had sourced it not 5km away.  He ran to his car and sped off, beside himself with excitement. 

Desperate to entertain the kids, I drove the car 3km away to where the Telstra service kicked in, and picked up the signal long enough to locate cinema times.  We prepared two cars to return to civilisation in Forster to watch Wreck it Ralph.  Tempting as this adventure was, I offered to stay behind and play on my laptop, which still has plenty of charge pack. 

And then, at 1:10pm, the gentle melody of the washing machine talking to itself and seconds later, the blast of the air con restarting, announced a return to power. 

We jumped for joy.  We high fived each other.  The kids ran around everyone’s houses shouting the news.  Our tennis mad friends immediately turned on channel 7 to watch Sam Stosur actually win something.  The movie convoy left for Forster, and I sat, listening to the hum of electricity, and thanked the powers that be that I live when and where I do.

What a weird bubble of privilege we all live in.   What a bunch of soft touches we are.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Would you like sand with that?

So, sand. 

Look at it.  Treacherous stuff isn't it? And as for the happy child with the boogie needs to be stopped. 
It's just so sandy.  

Commonly found on the beach.  In vast quantities.   And now, by popular demand (and a strong aversion to foot cleaning), in our holiday house. 

Currently found in every crack and crevice of every child in my possession, every corner of our um…house/apartment thing. 
Another bespoke fortress.  About my 5th I think.  Made of...?
I sweep up.  I sweep it into a corner.  Vast piles of the stuff. The floor is clean for ten minutes.  Then someone walks through with sandy thongs on and it’s back to square one.

There are mini beaches in the corner of each shower recess.  The towels are thick with it. 

And the other day when I got royally, totally, comprehensively dumped (triple somersaulted) by a wild series of waves at Elizabeth Beach (normally the most peaceful beach in Australia), I had sand EVERYWHERE.  It’s still in my ears.

And the beds!  Oh the beds! I brush and brush and brush and it never gets any better. 

I tried making the kids hold their feet out to me so I could brush them off before going to bed.  But their feet were so black and filthy I gave up and instigated a pre-bed foot washing procedure, which I promptly forgot to enforce..  And Issy has taken to crawling into bed quietly and flaking out  before I even notice so her bed is like the Sahara. 

Defeated by my family, I continued to brush off my own feet before putting them into my own bed.  This at least keeps my side semi pristine.  Mike doesn’t, and his sand keeps migrating.  Thank goodness, after a week, our apartment was serviced and we got new sheets.  Talk about excitement.  The floors and beds were sand free for, maybe 10 minutes before someone walked in with sandy feet and walked across one of the kids beds (crammed together in one room) to get something, leaving a trail of dirty little footprints. 
There is no close up, but I can attest to the sandiness of those feet (still in thongs!). 
Note to self: you are on holidays, get over it. 

As a kid, crunchy sheets were how you slept on your summer holiday.  Especially while camping, or anywhere near a beach (we seldom did anything else).  As an adult, clean sheets without sand are something you take for granted, and like the proverbial princess and her pea, we get a bit fussier about our sleeping conditions and struggle to sleep if they are not quite right.   

Does anyone else bring their own pillows from home?  We have latex ones, which travel with us everywhere we go, except on planes.  First world nightmares we are.  

Sand or no sand, it's been a totally marvellous holiday.