Monthly Archives: May 2009

Twenty Years – or “You get less than that for murder.”

Yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary. In this day and age, twenty years of marriage is just about recognised as a statistical achievement, and so, despite us being quite the unceremonial couple, I’ll take the opportunity to acknowlege the milestone.  (“Getting all d & m on me?” he’ll say.)

Most of our anniversaries to date have been sidelined a bit by a certain person’s birthday; last night we said ‘bugger it’, and went out for dinner for the second night in a row. It’s nice to have reached the point in our lives with children where we can just head out for a few hours without worrying about babysitting issues.  It was also nice to be able to spend a short amount of time together with no interruptions. That doesn’t seem to happen too much, and I suppose that’s the whole idea of  ‘going out for dinner’ on these sort of occasions. (I try not to think about what else $100 could have bought!)

I was mentioning this auspicious occasion to my classmates at TAFE this week, along with the ‘day before’ timing of the sixteen year old’s arrival into this world. Bless their Generation Y hearts, they did some maths, and were interested in the fact that there was a four year lapse between us getting married and the arrival of the first kid. Unusual these days, it seems.

“We also went out for three and a half years before we got married,” I said. And added: “We didn’t live together beforehand either.”

“Wow! That’s really unusual!” one said. “How did you know you’d be able to, like, cope with living together and all that ?”

“Ah well, we always reckoned if we could cope with paddling 5 day canoe marathons together, marriage would be a walk in the park,” I joked.   Half-joked, anyway.

Back then, living together wasn’t quite as prevalent as it is now.  While we holidayed together, and spent more than one night together once we were out of home in share houses, it wouldn’t have been an easy road with our families, so we just.. didn’t.  Also, after living in share accommodation, moving in together at last was comparative bliss, and not a bad way to start a marriage!

How long one would require this ‘living together’ experiment to go on for, anyway?  The hardest years for us came well down the track, after kids, really.  Maybe the canoe marathons did set us up, after all, to tackle the challenges, and to know that there would be difficult periods to be overcome,  times when you would feel like giving up and saying ‘it’s all too hard’, but knowing that the rewards of sticking to something you’d committed to were all worth it in the end.

Unlike a canoe marathon, there is no particular finishing line to aim for once you hitch your lives together, except that, twenty years ago, when we were doing those marathons, I’d look at the ‘old’ couples – 60-70 years of age, giving us a run for our money in their double kayaks, and I’d think “I want us to be still doing that together at that age.”

After navigating a few of the harder sections of this river of married life, I’d like to think we are still on track.

But, milestone though it is, don’t go expecting such things as eternity rings, jeweller, flowers or the like to have exchanged hands between us. Hopelessly Unromantic R US.

Lately, rather than double kayaks, we like to spend time together on our tandem. There are certainly parallels to the double kayak in terms of working together, and communicating well, often through nothing more than intuition.  You just don’t usually get as wet.

Anyway, in the next few weeks we’ll be purchasing front panniers for our tandem, so that we can take off on a 5-day tandem touring trip in July, just the two of us. So, we’ll consider the panniers our anniversary gift to each other, as will be the luxury of spending that time together.

And I’ll certainly be marketing it as our 20th anniversary getaway in negotiations when asking the grandparents to put up with the kids for a few nights.

tracenmarc_wedding

Our ceremony was on a lookout in the Blue Mountains. It’s an interesting story I might get around to telling one day!

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Filed under double trouble

Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen

Our first born turned 16 yesterday. For her birthday she got two Year 11 half yearly exams and the beginnings of a head cold. Today (supposedly a study day – that she incidentally wanted to go to the movies on) she is worse. (We negotiated a half day out, but she pulled the pin herself this morning.) It probably won’t go down as one of her favourite birthdays ever!

We did go out for dinner, but overall it’s been a fairly low key birthday year for her. She didn’t want a party – she seems to have a collection of different friends that don’t necessarily get on with each other, and although we offered a few times, she knocked back the offer.

And, after the brand new road bike she got last year, this is a bit of a quiet year in the parental gifting department. Her dad and I are taking her to a local Comedy Festival performance next week, and I am taking her to the SYTYCD Top 20 tour in Sydney in July. We’ve given her some money to put towards something she wants to buy. That something happens to be a ‘web slider‘. A ‘qwerty’ keyboard fancy schmancy mobile phone, that does everything but cook your dinner, so it seems.  At $199, apparently it is “cheap”!!!  Amazing the different outlook on the world that Generation Why? has.  (According to teh Daddy, it’s not that great cos it’s not 3G, but what would I know, except for the fact that I’d be even more nonplussed if she wanted to buy a mobile phone for $400!)

Anyway, with money from us and her grandmother, she had enough to cover the cost, and so I picked it up for her today. With money from the other grandmother she’ll buy some Converse shoes that she intends to handpaint herself.

Sixteen years. It seems both a long time and hardly any time at all.  The birth of your first child is a life-changer, and every stage they go through is a bit of an experiment. After 16 years, I’m still testing what works and what doesn’t. Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, she grows into the next phase, and throws down the gauntlet once more.

But she’s a good kid. Always was, with a bit of spice thrown in to keep us on our toes.

In the few days after she was born, I nearly added ‘Piranha’ as a middle name, for the zest with which she breast fed. (Even the midwives used to wince as she latched on.) And she continued on with that zest, walking at 10 months, and basically not being too shy. She’s never minded a bit of the limelight, and has never been concerned about getting up on stage, or standing up for what she thinks is right. She’s got a high sense of moral outrage – I always reckoned she’d make a good  defence lawyer, because she’d argue black was white if it suited! Luckily she usually uses these powers for good.

She’s pretty, smart, sporty, arty, witty .. and feisty. Found an old t-shirt I’d bought her a few years back. “Beauty, brains and Attitude”. That pretty much sums her up. (Needless to say she didn’t agree, and didn’t wear the shirt!) The feisty can be good, and the feisty can be bad. Depends which day you ask me!  The feisty can also be lazy, but that’s probably a fairly normal teenage trait.

It’s an interesting age. They want to be adults, but they’re not there yet. In our state they can get their Learner Driver permit. Now that’s a pretty significant step for parents to take, never mind the kid!

It’s the time of wanting to push the limits. “I’m 16 now” will carry much more weight than ‘you’re only  15.’ As long as she’s willing to shoulder the adult-like responsibilities that accompany that, we’ll do ok.

birthday cake

Happy birthday kiddo. I know we drive each other nuts sometimes, but we love you like crazy, and we’re very VERY proud of you.

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Filed under it's just another manic mum day

Mice go “squeak squeak”

Opened the cupboard under the kitchen sink yesterday afternoon, and next thing I’m doing a pretty fair impersonation of the stereotypical woman standing on the kitchen chair screaming and pointing at a mouse. (Or like that Aussie ad for some sort of mouse or rat bait, where the cartoon mouse is standing on the chair pointing at the product and screaming.)

Only, at least I didn’t stand on a chair, and the mouse quickly disappeared, of course. And it was only a couple of fairly mild exclamations. I swear!

We’ve had mice before, but we’ve been mouse-free for a few years. (Or they’ve been cleverly quiet and unseen.) Back then I might have been a bit more tough, I think. The Man of the House worked away a lot, so I’ve had to do my share of spider-catching and mouse-baiting.

Back then we found, at least, some mousetraps that didn’t require handling of dead mice. Peanut butter smeared on the catch plate, and sometime later, whammo. Just pick up, squeeze the levers to open, and drop to dispose. I didn’t like it much, but it was effective.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve got more squeamish again. It’s just.. the man of the house has been home more often, and, as unfeminist as it sounds, I don’t mind a bit of specialisation of jobs around the house. Chivalry shouldn’t be completely dead in the water. I don’t mind my man being a bit chivalrous and tough.

So yesterday I made the mistake of skyping him at work about the mouse sighting, so of course that meant I had to do something about setting a trap. Dammit. I rummaged around the back of the cupboard and found one of the old traps, set it as I’d done in the past, and crossed my fingers he’d be home in time to deal with it.

And so he was. Over dinner we hear a noise coming from the cupboard. But not the one-off sound of a trap springing shut. Oh, no. There’s rustling and clunking noises.

He goes to investigate, and bugger. We have the situation of a little mouse caught in the trap just by his leg, flopping around frantically. And making little squeaky noises!

OMG! Mice! They actually do squeak!

Thus ensues a mexican stand off, where he tells me I have to help, and I’m at the table (trying to finish my salad), with my hands in my head saying “But I can’t! I can’t!!! I’m no good at this sort of stuff!”

And he’s also telling me I set the trap wrong! It should have been placed in a confined space where the mouse couldn’t access the bait from the side. Wtf?! I never did that last time, and it always worked. Guess who won’t be setting any more traps then!

Eventually he convinces me to hold a plastic bag open, while he manages to get a hold of the trap – not an easy task, as by this stage the agitated mouse with trap attached has fallen out onto the kitchen floor, and is gyrating around with it.

He drops it into the plastic bag, and thankfully the mouse lies still. (I was afraid it would go off like the proverbial frog in a sock, and I’d freak out and drop it.) I hold the top together and swiftly pass it over to him.

He takes it outside and lets it go, with a stern lecture to not come inside again.

Oh, but it was so small, and cute! It makes you feel like a right bastard for setting traps that kill. (And even worse that they might just maime.)

And now that I’ve googled mouse traps, I’m finding all sorts of forums where they recommend humane mouse trapping and releasing. What a dilemma! (And no, don’t suggest keeping it as a pet!)

Anyway, that’s my mouse story. It probably doesn’t quite eclipse Bush Babe’s one of finding one (dead or alive, I can’t remember) in the toaster when they got back from a week away. (I think she might have just twittered that one!) Or Potty Mummy’s ongoing mouse problem.

Checked the reset trap today – or rather, I got the Man of the House to check the trap HE reset yesterday – and nothing there. Phew. So either the mouse is a fast learner, or he’s found somewhere else to live outside. He just better not come back and get himself caught tonight whilst Himself is out.

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Filed under miscellaneous minutiae

We’ve had a bit of ‘weather’ round here.

So, yes, we’ve had a bit of rain. Don’t I wish I could ship it up to places where they need it. Like around BushBabe’s place.

This is what the backyard looked like this afternoon. Reckon I’ll be wearing my gumboots to the clothesline for a while, once the sun is out again. And once they are dry, because some silly person left them outside and they filled up with water the day the rain started. Ahem.
backyardpool

And the wind last night decided to help us along with the renovation project. When we moved in 11 years ago we said ‘That verandah needs to be knocked down and rebuilt.’

I guess some people just take a while to get round to doing things.

Ever since we’ve barely used it, and more recently pretty much banned the kids from going out there. “Too dangerous” we said.

And you can see why. Heard a thud last night as it was blowing a gale.

“What the heck?!”

“Oh. The verandah railing. Guess that was bound to happen sooner or later.”

lattice

And then a bit later, the second one came down.

Guess it’s lucky we have that appointment with the building designer. One less thing for us to have to demolish.

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Filed under like, whatever

I’m a power and caffeine addicted clairvoyant twit.

OK, I’ve done my equivalent of Earth Hour over the past two days. We’ve now had a couple of very short power outages in the scheme of things, but each time they’ve left me wandering around aimlessly. No computer! No internet! AND no coffee (just when I was ready for another one!)  What’s a woman to do?

Ah well, I could clean, couldn’t I? The house is desperately in need of cleaning, but I’m always too busy with the computer, and drinking coffee and that. Cleaning. Right.

But with the dark and gloomy weather that no doubt caused the blackouts in the first place, the ground floor of our house is  … dark and gloomy. And, you know, it’s hard to clean when you can’t see what you’re doing. Isn’t it?! (Back me up on this, someone!) So. Scratch that as an option.

And then, well, you know you have an addiction problem when you find myself with the urge to twitter this predicament you are in, only you can’t because, duh, the computer is down.

Also, I’m just not with the program. My mobile phone (or the prepaid plan I’m on) isn’t ‘up there’ enough to connect to Twitter. I found myself texting my husband, and even my mother. (The latter is a pretty rare thing, so it’s an indication of the loose end I was at.)

More wandering around aimlessly. Dammit, I couldn’t even boil the kettle to have a coffee. And I can’t think without coffee.

The wind and rain seemed to have eased slightly, so I decided there was only one thing for it. I told the girls that I had one sure way of getting the power back on:

“I”ll go out to the shed, get the trangia camping stove, and make myself a coffee. I guarantee the power will come back on pretty much as soon as I’ve done that.”

So I did. And, of course it did. Just as the water was coming to the boil.

I should be able to hire myself out with that skill. (What would you call that, by the way? – Not just clairvoyance. I mean, I didn’t just predict an event in the future, I made it happen. Mostly, in that area, I fit the jinx department, but in this case, I used my powers for good. Right? )

Meanwhile, with a coffee under my belt, and the computer and internet back up and running, I’m getting stuck into the cleaning.

Yep. Right after this.

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Filed under it's just another manic mum day, lost in procrastination

Days like this.

Today has done an about face.  I had two appointments in town scheduled for the morning, but Ms 13 trundled up the stairs at about 7.30 to inform us that she felt sick. If it was anything but the fact that she had tummy pains and felt like she *might* throw up, I could have probably left her here by herself, but I didn’t have the heart.  Throwing up is no fun, and still pretty hard to deal with solo at only 13 yrs old.

[And this is, after all, the reason why I’m fiffing and faffing over what sort of flexible, home-based work I could do. I truly do wonder how people  juggle work and sick kids.]

So, firstly a chiropractor appointment cancelled. It was just a maintenance type appointment, but then about an hour later I’ve slipped on the stairs, landed on my bum, and things are feeling jarred. What do you call that? Ironic? Not sure yet when I can risk rescheduling.

And the other appointment was with a  building design studio, to finally take the next, very belated, steps towards getting major renovations done to our house. We last explored it over 12 months ago, and just didn’t get round to moving forward with it. (It’s amazing how a year can just slip by.. ten times over, if the truth be known…)    Finally last week I’d had enough with everything that was wrong with the house, and made the phone call.  Now it’s put off till next Thursday.  I suppose one more week is not going to make much difference in the scheme of things, but it’s frustrating all the same.

So here I am. Plenty to do here at home (which includes writing, and getting my head around Javascript for TAFE – or the usual household jobs that never seem to get done)  but not so easy to concentrate with a 13 year old sitting nearby, huffing and sighing because she feels like crap.  She feels worse if she lies down, feels a bit better briefly if she eats some dry white toast with vegemite, but then feels ‘blah’ again, wonders if she could watch a movie, but then, apparently can’t find anything to watch.  Thankfully no spewing as yet, but I’ve not crossed that one off the list of possibilities. (She’d probably feel better if she did.)  And so she is half-heartedly doing stuff on the computer (which she is actually supposed to be grounded from for a while because of indiscriminate downloading that brought a virus onto my computer) – and half-heartedly looking over my shoulder, which is not conducive to inspiration or concentration.  (And I want to work from home?)  I also feel totally useless, because there is nothing much I can do to help her feel better.

Meanwhile the weather has gone totally blah. (My word of the day.)  Rain, wind overnight and today. (It has caused flooding further north.) The backyard is like a toddler wading pool again, and it is really wild out right now.

Just another one of those manic mum days, then, really.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ah the joys of motherhood. Holding the spew bucket and then dealing with it all.

Hopefully she might feel better now. A spew and then a sleep. Fingers crossed.

Unfortunately the radar indicates that there isn’t much hope for the rest of today, and probably tomorrow at least, when it comes to the weather.

blahweather

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Filed under it's just another manic mum day, lost in procrastination

I’m marking it down as An Achievement.

We were invited to join a few other people on a fairly long ride. Talk about false advertising. They said it was around 94km. Ended up 111km. (Fortunately it was pretty flat!) A stop at around 40km for coffee, and 68km at a pub for lunch. Long day, tired but happy.

The eldest two declined to come, so it was the Mum, Dad and Ms 10 show.  So we had a new tandem duo combo, and Mum riding solo:

tracey_single

tandem_DadZoe

Yeah, I know his head is chopped off. All the other photos I tried to take while I was riding alongside were blurry.

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Filed under on yer bike