Wednesday, September 30, 2015



Today we went to Floriade, Canberra's annual spring flower/bulb festival. It seemed to be mainly tulips this year with pansies underneath, I don't think I saw any iris or hyacinths. Maybe those are already over as we are in the third week. It was pretty, if a little dull after the ninety-third field. Maybe I've been going too many years.

They had a huge mirror set up so that when the kids lay on the painting of a building, it looked like they were climbing up a vertical wall (here you can see both the reality and the reflection).

The baby animal petting zoo had already left this year as they are only there the first two weeks, but we went through the reptile petting zoo that replaced it and patted some lizards. One handler was holding a big lace monitor (very large lizard that likes to steal eggs from farmers, and probably the chickens too if it can catch them) and his arms were all scratched and bleeding from its claws as it climbed him like a tree.

Floriade also has an area with lots of stalls selling garden tools, mugs with pictures of tulips, floral scented soaps, lunch items, and bottles of water for $4.50. We always go around and taste test whatever food is on offer - some Indian butter chicken, chocolate fudge, herbal teas (Jasmine loves those for some reason), hot chilli sauces (Aiden's favourite), sugar-crusted almonds etc. I generally buy something each visit to justify all the free tasting, this time some mint rocky road.

We walked around slowly for about two hours.

We've been having more problems with our old car (which the kids decided to name "Nugget" because it is a gold colour and the word sounds funny when you say it, the new red car is called "Titan") and I took it back to the people that fixed it last week. I haven't driven it since then except to get it home and to move it a couple of times out of the way of Titan, but it was already making horrible noises again.

Getting home from the repair shop after dropping the car off this afternoon meant more walking (kids with their scooters) so I am feeling pretty tired. Lots of exercise today, but also too much sugar. It was a really warm sunny day, nice to get out in the spring sunshine. We put sunscreen on our faces and had long sleeves on, but I am feeling suspiciously warm around the back of the neck. I'll have to start being vigilant about that now that the weather has turned.

I've been having weird anxiety dreams, like I'd lost the new car, or when I couldn't remember if Tim and I were divorced or not! Everything with the new house is going smoothly - contracts exchanged, finance arranged etc, but we still have to sell this house. The auction is next week. If it doesn't sell straight away we'll be carrying a big debt until it does. The market has suddenly gone a bit quiet, in Sydney at least don't know about here. You'll remember we had to chose between three houses we liked, well the other two are still on the market. One is asking for offers, the other was up for auction last Saturday but didn't sell. So I hope the market is still strong here in Canberra!

I said a couple of weeks ago that Australia's version of Biggest Loser was pretty benign, well I have to take that back. They have temptation again (10 out 14 contestants ate junk), lots of drama between family members, and the show seems to be doing its best to create more conflict by making all the rewards controversial; for example instead of winning a 2 kg benefit for your team at the weigh-in you have to give a 2 kg penalty to another team. Of course this creates bad feeling. Clearly the producers think that seeing success stories of people conquering their demons and losing weight isn't enough. It is disappointing. I'm still watching it though.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Family and Community Day


Tim had the day off (Family and Community Day: a public holiday local to my city, when you're the politician/public servant capital you make your own rules) and the school holidays have started, so we all had a nice rest day. Played Dungeons and Dragons. I was really tired all day, these weekends away are exhausting! It was a good day.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Our new house and all you can eat


We spent a couple of hours Saturday morning getting the old house ready for viewings, then drove to Sydney (in the new car) to see the new one. The idea was that we were seeing if we wanted to buy any of the furniture that the previous owners didn't want to keep. They are retiring to a small house and downsizing. It turned out that the only thing we really wanted, their kitchen table, they are taking with them. But we are buying their outdoor setting. For us, the visit was mainly about getting to see the house again - after all we'd only gone through it once! We thought we'd be able to look at everything in detail and plan where to put our furniture, and also take lots of pictures, but it didn't really work out that way.

We met the real estate agent outside. Here is the front door:

The previous owners were home (they are not moving out until just before we move in), a retired couple. They were lovely and friendly and very talkative and basically followed us around chatting. It made it a bit awkward, we didn't feel we could look around properly since all the other people's stuff was there and they were looking over our shoulders. No opening cupboard doors or anything like that. A few surreptitious pictures. The real estate agent left after a while, bored.

The wife, Michelle, followed me out into the garden and told me the names and needs of every single plant. There were two lovely shade umbrellas on swinging arms but it turned out those weren't for human use, they were to shade precious plants!

This is the outdoor setting we are buying from them. The kitchen looks out into this courtyard area.

I was also treated to lots of pictures of her grandchildren, and the birds that visit the garden. And I met one of the neighbours and their placid friendly golden Labrador dog. At least a lot of the conversation was reasonably relevant to us moving there. Tim wasn't so lucky. He ended up trapped in a corner hearing all about John's career (now retired). Occasionally he would politely excuse himself to go look in another room but then was pinned down again.

The kids had a great time roaming around the garden unsupervised. Half their luck. Oh well, we did get to see the house (and garden!!) again. And were able to reassure ourselves we'd made a good choice, which we were a bit worried about considering we kind of rushed the decision.

After that we went to Tim's brother's house. It was Nick's birthday so we went out to dinner at a Brazilian place. It was all-you-can-eat, the waiters constantly bringing huge skewers of various kinds of meat and slicing pieces off for you. Fun, but we (Tim and I, that is) didn't think the food was anything special. Rather bland dry meat. Luckily they also brought plenty of side dishes so there was salad and salsa and chips. There was also a floor show with drums and lots of feather head-dresses and bottom-wiggling, so that was fun.

Afterwards we got gelato nearby. I don't have the same passion for ice cream as Tim's family, I had a couple of bites of mine and gave the rest away.

We stayed at Nick's place. As usual, very poor sleep on the hard bed. Soon we will live near them, no more staying over!

You remember that block of land that we thought about buying? And I mentioned a cousin bought a block of land recently? It was that exactly block! Shouldn't be a surprise really, but I hadn't realised it was that block. Would have been funny if we'd all turned up at the auction.

The next day was a big Chinese moon festival (Nick's wife Ping is Chinese) to celebrate the harvest so we went out to lunch at a Yum Cha place. I rather like Yum Cha as long as the food isn't too weird (like chicken feet and beef tendons, euw) - the waiters endlessly loop the restaurant with trolleys of all different kinds of food. More all-you-can-eat!! I don't think I overate but it is quite hard to judge how much you are eating when you don't see it all together on your plate. Here is some of the food, for six adults and three children. We had a lot more food before/after this. I think abundance and hospitality are important for the festival. But no wonder we are all putting on weight.

Aiden wasn't impressed with the food so we got him a Subway sandwich afterwards. Then the long drive home, made dinner, collapsed from exhaustion. It was a big weekend.

Friday, September 25, 2015

New car and lots of walking


I took our old car in to be serviced today, we needed it in decent shape for driving to Sydney on the weekend. They found some specific things wrong and gave me a price I was willing to pay, with some misgivings. I left it with them and did the 20 minute walk home. I was feeling better than yesterday after the hot towel head wrap thing, but still found the walk a bit of a challenge.

Then the dealership called and our new car was available today, not Tuesday! In time for the drive to Sydney tomorrow, excellent. So I walked up there, further away than the repair place, I didn't time it but at least 30 minutes maybe 40 at my dragging speed. The car was sitting out front (I knew it by the license plate number) and looked very snazzy, I went in to do the paperwork. Only to find that there was a problem and I couldn't have it until Tuesday after all! After the long walk, too! I was exhausted and quite depressed. I was going to have to ask someone to drive me home, maybe in the new car I wasn't allowed to keep yet.

But the two salesmen I was dealing with hustled around and made phone calls and found a way to let me have it today. They actually did quite a lot to make it work. I took it out for a drive with the salesman and he showed me all the bells and whistles (it may not be this year's model, but it is a lot fancier than our ancient bomb!), then I finally got our new baby home just before the kids got back from school.

Quite pretty, isn't she? The kids were very excited.

Shortly after that the car repair people rang to say the old car was ready to be picked up. Another walk, this time with the kids zooming ahead on their scooters. By the time we got there we didn't have time to take it home and swap with the new car, had to drive straight to ballet in the old one.

Tim won't get to see it in daylight until tomorrow, but we'll get lots of driving in this weekend. And maybe work out a way to reduce the volume of the voice of the GPS directions.

I did over 10,000 steps today, far more than I've been doing lately. Physically and emotionally exhausting day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bad hair day ... and contract exchange


Tomorrow is the last day of term 3, and I realised this morning that meant I wouldn't have any time to myself for the next two weeks. So I booked in a haircut. They had a spot free at lunchtime which I went to, but I've never seen it so busy there. Often it's just me, or a couple of other clients, when I go during the week. But today it was packed. Maybe 'cause lunchtime?

My usual hairdresser had actually left so I got a new girl. I told her what I wanted, had my massage (which was lovely) then my hair was washed (lovely) then they put a conditioning treatment on my hair and wrapped my head in a hot wet towel for 10 minutes, while I reclined still in the hair-washing chair. I've never had that before. Actually I think it was a lot longer than 10 minutes, the hairdresser was probably working on someone else. I drifted off, and woke very groggy and dopey. I'm not sure that having a hot head for so long (plus recovering from flu?) was good for me. I'd been feeling pretty good today, apart from my neck glands still swollen and sore, but I was now feeling a bit unwell again.

So I paid little attention to what the hairdresser was doing to my hair, and only at the end realised that her interpretation of "I'm growing it out so keep it as long as possible but I want a fringe (bangs) put back in" looked like this:

I hate it. It looks horrible. I was there for an hour and a half and my head looks like a bowling ball. I wanted to look like this:

Of course I didn't say anything. I can only hope it will look better once I wash and style it myself instead of the sleek blow dry.

I was quite stressed and unhappy and I hadn't eaten a proper lunch yet, my grocery shopping after the haircut did not result in a trolley to be proud of. Back to my old response to negative emotions.

Contracts on the house we are buying were/are supposed to be exchanged today, but as of now (4pm) I still haven't heard from the lawyers. Exchange of contracts is when everyone is locked in to the price, the date etc. We've signed ours and given the deposit, still waiting to receive their signed contract. So frustrating, as we all verbally agreed to everything over a week ago. It's a six week settlement period, and we're running out of time before we really need to move. Tim starts six weeks from Monday! We're down to moving on the final weekend.

... email at 4:11 - contracts have been exchanged! Yay! We'll have a house in time for Tim to start work in Sydney. Just. Big relief that that part is done and locked in.

Now I just have to finish packing, organise schools, removalists, sell our Canberra house, etc etc. Lots of work, but less stressful than not being sure we had the house.

Deep gurgles


Any plans I might have made for today went out the window. Aiden complained of a strange feeling in his tummy this morning but I sent him to school. I had to go and pick him up a couple of hours later. He spent half an hour in bed then watched The Phantom Menace. If that gives an image of quiet recovery, no. He was leaping around the lounge room during the exciting bits. He seems fine apart from the odd feeling in his stomach. I know what he means, I've had the same discomfort for the past four days. He'll be back at school tomorrow.

I felt a lot better today.

I updated my phone to ios9 but then the next phone call I got, the man sounded like the creature from the Black Lagoon, incomprehensibly gurgling underwater. Really deep and distorted. Apparently to him I sounded the opposite, like a squeaky chipmunk. Luckily he'd already been through this problem with his wife, and he texted me to turn my phone right off and on again which I hadn't done after the update. It worked. It was quite funny at the time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rest day


I decided I needed a rest day today. No frantic cleaning or rushing around doing anything else, and no dwelling on the stressors in my life, just recovery from this flu. Reading and TV and naps.

I was supposed to go to an appointment with my doctor to follow up whether I am successfully absorbing B12 from the tablets, or whether I need injections. Last time I needed to contact my doctor, three weeks ago, they were having problems with their phones and I couldn't get through for a couple of days. When I finally asked them about it in person, they said they knew about the issue and were having it attended to. Today I tried to ring to postpone my appointment (rather ironic I suppose, cancelling a doctor appointment because I'm sick). And tried. And tried. Over and over for more than an hour. Either I got a "user busy" signal or else the phone rang out with no one answering. I guess they're still having issues. After three weeks! Nothing on their website, and no other way to contact them except snail mail.

The big frustrating irony was that the only two minutes I was away from my phone all morning I missed a call from them, saying I'd missed my appointment and to call them! Yeah, why don't I try that... They'd better not try to charge me, I will absolutely refuse to pay. (In Australia the government pays about 2/3 through Medicare and you pay about 1/3, depending what medical service you are using.) I will speak to them in person next time I am at my local shops. If I'd known about the continuing phone problem I would have dropped in yesterday when I was dragging myself through some essential shopping right next door.

It was a grey dreary day, with pea-size hail at lunchtime (I had the idea it only hails on warm sunny days when the weather changes suddenly. Definitely not the case today). Perfect day for just hanging out at home taking care of myself. It helped, I think. I'm starting to feel better, I even had the energy to tackle the laundry in the afternoon. It was really nice to have a day when I didn't feel a lot of pressure to be tackling my to-do list.

I've been doing a bit better with food. Still eating some convenience foods like frozen meals and home-delivery because I haven't felt up to cooking much and Tim is home too late during the week to cook for the kids, but I haven't been buying between-meal junk. Maybe I shouldn't take the credit for that, food isn't very appealing right now, but I'll pat myself on the back anyway!

Monday, September 21, 2015



Another day down with the flu, struggling through the things I need to do. Things are gradually progressing.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

New car


We had our first proper advertised open house today to sell our home. We did the pre-showing tidy up then left the house. The real estate agent called later to say 21 people/families came through, and quite a few asked for a copy of the contract which means they are considering purchasing. Nice! Another open house tomorrow. Our plan is to sell at auction, but if someone makes a really good offer beforehand then we'll consider it.

While we were banned from being at home, we went and looked at cars. Financially it is a weird time to be spending more money, but our current car is well over ten years old and really on its last legs, or should I say wheels. It makes the most awful sounds, and is quite difficult to steer. I think I've had it repaired twice in the past six months but that doesn't last long. We did another test drive of a car we liked and then it turned out they had a similar car but with features we preferred (mainly we wanted a sedan not hatchback) elsewhere so they're getting that one for us. It will take a couple of weeks, but then we'll have a nice car. It's a small Ford, in red. Four wheels, five if you count the steering wheel. Oh, there is probably a spare hidden somewhere so that is six. The pedals make it go faster or slower. And that is about the limit of my automobile expertise. 

We're keeping the old car for the time being, it might be handy to have two during the move, but then I imagine we'll get rid of it.

My throat is a bit better today but I've come down with other cold/flu symptoms and feel pretty rotten. Luckily I could rest all afternoon. Also my knee is better and my pelvic pain now almost completely gone, so I only have to deal with this one thing.


I am now a snot production machine. Feel like a zombie that has been deprived of brains. We had another open house so I couldn't just stay in bed. We dropped Jasmine at a birthday party and had lunch at a Thai restaurant. Meanwhile a few people went through our house, a couple of them return visitors. Later Tim and the kids went to another birthday party while I collapsed at home. Yay for naps.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Determined to do better


Seems like I jinxed myself yesterday talking about stress causing illness. Woke at 4:30 with very sore throat, and have been feeling fatigued, achy and unwell all day. I haven't been much interested in food, and when I do eat I feel a bit sick. I've been trying to rest myself as much as possible, but with someone coming back to show their husband the house tonight I had to do a little. Make beds, rest, hide laundry baskets, rest. I was lucky it was mostly still clean and tidy! I had hoped to fit in a trip to the flower festival Floriade today but I wasn't up to it. It's still open for another three weeks, so that is ok.

I am really determined to do better with diet and exercise etc. I made myself drink more water today. I did the grocery shopping and didn't buy any junk food. I threw away some Doritos leftover from yesterday. I wasn't perfect, but much better than other recent days. It's a start.

Thursday, September 17, 2015



What a frustrating morning. I was waiting for final, very important documents before we sign and exchange contracts on this house and pay a deposit (after that, they can't sell it to someone else even if they make a better offer). No internet access until 11:20 - and then it still hadn't arrived! Also I was trying to print out the 35 page contract and my printer got all stubborn. You know what that can be like. Chewed pages, running out of ink, anything it could think of piss me off. I ended up feeding in one sheet of paper at a time.

My stress levels are just so high at the moment. I had a look at that chart that ranks stressful life events, and what with both my parents dying and moving house and a few other things my score was approaching the dangerous level that is shown to cause illness. Ah well, all I can do is push on with things.

Jasmine is feeling a bit sad because her classmates are organising the Yr 6 graduation and she won't be here. A few people are surprised we are moving so close to the end of the school year (I think there will be 7 weeks left when we go) but I don't want to split the household and have Tim in Sydney by himself. Three months was the longest we could stretch to organise this move. I hope she makes friends quickly in the new school and feels part of that when she graduates. I must say, the whole "graduation from primary school" seems a bit odd to me, I'm sure they didn't have that when I was at school, or not such a big thing. It's not like anyone fails primary school.

We had our first open house last night. The information wasn't up on the internet's real estate pages yet, but the agent knew some people who were looking in this area and invited them along. We were out at Jasmine's dance lesson (the agent always recommends the owner isn't there) but I felt nervous the whole time. I've had dreams about frantically trying to tidy a filthy house while people crowd outside waiting to come in!

Two doors down from us are coincidentally also selling their house, and my daughter noticed their ad. on the internet yesterday afternoon. Their auction was exactly the same date and time as ours! I quickly called my agent and he has changed ours. We don't want people to have to choose which one to come to! Only one person can buy each house, so you want the rest to come to the other auction. Ours will be first. Their house is a little smaller but recently renovated. I am really happy with the pictures of ours, it looks great.

Funny thing happened today. I had a plumber here for a minor job and he mentioned that it was a nice-looking house. I jokingly said it was on the market if he was interested - and he was! I showed him around a bit and he might be back for an open house, he seemed to think it suited his family. Or he might have been just being polite.

Our agent called and someone who saw the house at the pre-showing last night wants to bring her husband to see it but they can't come on the weekend, so we organised a time. That sounds promising. We wouldn't be averse to an offer before auction - but we don't really want to leave this house before having somewhere to move to!

In the end, got those important documents just after 4pm. Signed the contract for the house and dropped it, plus the deposit, off at the solicitor. It's not final until the contracts have been "exchanged" and our lawyer has their signed copy, I doubt that will be before Monday. So still a bit more stressful waiting. Oh, and I can stress that our bank will suddenly decide not to lend us the money, and we'll lose our deposit. Not likely, but it's another thing to keep me awake at night.

Lets have a report card check.
Diet: Terrible. This is possibly the worst I've eaten in my life. Take-away several times a week and junk snacks in between.
Exercise: Terrible. No time to exercise. Or too stressed to make time. And I hurt my knee two weekends ago trudging up and down the driveway with things for the skip bin, and it's still a bit sore.
Water: Terrible. Yesterday I had three glasses of water and two cups of tea. Pretty standard at the moment.
Sleep: Terrible. I wake very early every morning and can't get back to sleep.
Mental health: Poor. I'm not absolutely unhappy, just very stressed.

So, my life is a bit topsy-turvy at the moment.

I had a blood test yesterday and there was that sign on the wall "Dance like no one is watching, love like you've never been hurt, sing like no one is listening, live like it's your last day on earth." Sounds pretty, but I disagree with most of it! I prefer to dance and sing like I'm performing to a huge (adoring) audience. And if I knew it was my last day on earth I certainly wouldn't be "wasting" my time cleaning my house, waiting around for a plumber, or spending half the day on phone and email organising this home purchase. Planning for the future is just as important as living in the now. Well, I think so, anyway. If you didn't, you'd quickly run out of clean clothes for a start! How about "Live as if you're going to live for a thousand years." Therefore plan for the future, be careful with money and your relationships, but enjoy each day as well. Am I overthinking this?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Can I?


I'm rereading a fantasy book series (The Soldier Son) by Robin Hobb where the main character, a fit and successful young cadet, is cursed by magic so that he becomes hugely obese. He goes through all the physical problems and social scorn that this causes - his fiancĂ©e dumps him; his father locks him in his room with little food and then no food, convinced he is cheating on his diet somehow; he is kicked out of the army. He experiences other people's assumption that fat equals lazy, greedy, stupid, and even untrustworthy. But then he meets the culture whose magic made him obese, and there finds that obesity is revered as showing wealth, wisdom and power. Huge shamans have "feeders" who look after them in every way. Such a contrast.

The books have reminded me how much I would love to have an excuse for my obesity. It's not my fault, I'm not just greedy and lazy, I have a previously undiagnosed vitamin deficiency and I can't help it! And I want an easy solution - just take this pill and you'll be cured!

I am aware that some people think that we do already have a good excuse - our obesogenic surroundings and addictive sugar intake. And my defeated response to that is: if I am addicted to sugar and that is why I have cravings etc, then the only way to solve that is to go through horribly difficult withdrawal while continually surrounded by junk food so where does that leave me? In the movie "As Good As It Gets" Jack Nicholson has OCD and does something obnoxious as usual and his psychiatrist objects, and he says: "Dr. Green, how can you diagnose someone as an obsessive compulsive disorder, and then act like I have some choice about barging in here?" My point is, I don't want to believe that dieting is as hard as giving up heroin. If it is, then I guess I can't. I've certainly tried often enough. I want an easier solution than that.

I've been enjoying watching The Biggest Loser. The trainers lived with their family teams for a week (I think five days) and ate what they ate, and as well as feeling very sick the whole time, they all put on a lot of weight - the most was Michelle with 7.6 kilograms. I know a lot of that would be fluid retention from the salt, but still. Wow. Then the contestants had their first workout. One woman in particular was of the "I can't" school of thought, but after lots of pushing she got through it and at the end she burst into emotional tears. She could hardly believe it, but she really could do it after all. There is my lesson for the day. Maybe I can.

What an exciting day


We had professional photos taken of the house this morning, so we did our best to remove all traces of human habitation. Not so much real cleaning or packing, more stashing stuff we actually use away in drawers. Hide that shampoo! The buyers must not know we have hair! Get rid of the dish drainer, there must be no evidence that we wash dishes in this house! Etc. It does look nice with everything hidden away, not an easy way to live though.

Then it was time to switch into home-buying mode. Tim made an offer on the house we want. They called back with a counter offer. After discussing it with me, Tim accepted their counter-offer! So exciting! Our purchase is contingent on an acceptable building and pest inspection report, which will be available on Thursday. Assuming that is all good, we have a house!

As I have said, the home's flaw is that it is smaller than others we were looking at. Actually most of the rooms are a good size but it is missing one room so I won't get a study. Since I work from home, that is a fault. But hopefully in a couple of years we can build on another room at the back for Aiden so he will get a bigger bedroom before he's a teenager, and I will get the study then. In the meantime, my desk will be in a nice corner looking out into the garden.

Aside from that one flaw, which perhaps I have harped on too much, the house is really lovely. It has the best bathrooms of any house we have seen and a nice big kitchen. The whole house felt very welcoming. I felt it even from the pictures on the internet, and Tim agreed as soon as we walked in. Very well maintained. The garden doesn't have much lawn, it is mainly native trees and shrubs and flowers in chaotic profusion, fun to explore, like a tiny bit of natural bushland. The previous owners (who are retiring to a country town, I guess they are moderately elderly) were obviously keen on wildlife, they had feeders out for the birds and even cubes of meat for the kookaburras (which usually eat snakes). We saw a beautiful rainbow lorikeet in a flowering grevillea tree out the front as we were leaving. It is in a quiet dead-end street, walking distance to shops and the library and possibly to the schools. Lovely!

Tim and I are both utterly exhausted emotionally. Time to collapse. But it was a very exciting and productive day.

.. And extra bit of exciting news, Tim's cousin has just purchased land near where we are moving to. He was previously an hour away. Lovely family gathering.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Another busy day


Another busy day project managing this move. I continue to wake very early every morning, this morning it was 4:30, and it didn't feel like I got back to sleep at all. Apparently often insomniacs feel like they haven't slept when testing shows they drift in and out of sleep, so I can't say for sure I was awake the whole time, but it felt like it. After a couple of hours of lying there thinking - mainly about houses - I got up. Strangely, considering about five hours sleep, I felt quite alert and happy most of the day (crashed later). Stressed, but excited-stressed. We are having the professional photos taken of our house tomorrow morning and the first open house Wednesday night (by invitation, the pictures won't be on the net yet), and although I keep thinking we are almost ready, there is always something else to do!

We've returned to reasonable surety about smaller house/bigger backyard being our first choice to buy in Sydney. We haven't seen the perfect house, if it exists, but this one suits us best. We are going to make an offer and see what happens. All the real estate agents (and used car salesmen, for that matter) got my phone number on the weekend so I've had a lot of calls about whether I liked various houses (and cars). The phone has hardly stopped ringing all day.

I continue to eat unhealthy food. Maybe that's how I'm keeping my energy levels artificially high. And I didn't have time/make time for a walk. Floriade, Canberra's spring flower festival, is on and I would love to go. I'll have to make time to stroll around the tulips soon. It was lovely outside today. I didn't get out into it much, but at least I was able to turn the heater off at home! It's back on again now for the evening.

I've got a whole weight-gain synergy going between stress, poor sleep, and poor eating. Eating is the only one I can really control, but it's hard when I'm stressed and tired! Not giving up, I'll keep working on it.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Biggest Loser


Ok, we've essentially decided to initially pursue the smallest house with a nice backyard for the kids in a good area near a school. At least that is what we are thinking this morning! Our primary issue with this house is that the third bedroom is really quite small (currently furnished as a study). It would be Aiden's and I don't want him to be too cramped. We've decided on a couple of ways to ameliorate this problem: firstly we could get him one of those beds that is like a top bunk with a desk or drawers underneath which maximises space - his best friend has a bed like that and he loves it. And secondly with a very minor renovation we could remove a linen cupboard on the other side of the wall that pushes into his bedroom, giving him a bit more room.

One day in the future when he is a teenager and we have lots of spare money (sure, it will happen), we can build another room for him on the back of the house. And a pool. One day.

Another good thing about it is they are not auctioning, they have an asking price. It's right at the top of our budget but we think it is a little overpriced and will make a lower offer. I'm sure that is what they would expect anyway, haggling a bit is normal. Of course there may be other people interested, but at least we don't have to go to auction!

The second house in the right area is bigger and just lovely, but no backyard is a real problem for us. There is just a tiny paved area. It's such a small block the house takes up the whole block. And no park or anything right nearby either. Our kids love playing outside. So we've moved that to our second choice. And the third house (with the pool) is just too far from schools as well as some other minor flaws.

Ok, back to the healthy living!

I actually got a nice surprise when I weighed myself this morning, something I haven't been doing much lately. I was fearfully expecting a big increase, but my weight has only been creeping up very slowly. It may seem odd being happy about any increase, but I know what I've been eating lately! It is how I respond to stress. So I was relieved. But I know I need to stop the upward trend and turn it around right now. I have a lot of health issues and they are basically all caused by my weight.

I am have some plans.

I will start tracking again. I've downloaded Myfitnesspal because a lot of people seem to like it and it syncs with Fitbit. I'm trying wearing my Fitbit again, but if it irritates my skin again I'll use my phone to track activity. I'm limiting calories but not any particular foods. Eating more fruit and vegetables. I will drink all my water. I will start walking again.

My other idea is to use Biggest Loser to motivate me. A new series starts here tonight and it is one of my favourite shows. I know this is very controversial! In its defence, the Australian version is relatively mild and supportive. I've seen the US version and was a bit horrified at how the trainers treat the contestants. The Australian trainers are nice, tough without being abusive. Anyway, I enjoy watching it.

My plan is to find something on every episode to use in my own weight loss, whether that is an exercise or a tip on diet or something about dealing with the psychological side of weight issues. As I watch, I will think "how can this help me?"

We spent the day working hard, quite a bit outside. No formal exercise, but another good housework workout! Food was not great. Food was pretty poor, actually. And we're no longer sure which house! Arg!!!!!!!!!!

I watched the first episode of Biggest Loser, the four trainers met their teams (families of four). They spent a few days having to eat what the families were eating - and not allowed to exercise. The trainers all felt completely sick, nauseated, headachy, Tiffany broke out in acne, Michelle was crying, Shannon looked like he wanted to punch someone, the Commando was the only reasonably stoic one and even he said he couldn't wait for it to be over. For them, a few days of unrestricted eating was NOT fun, they knew what it was like to feel healthy and this wasn't it!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Three houses


We drove to Sydney today for another round of house-viewing. Long long day with lots of driving, but we ended up finding THREE houses we really liked. Which is awesome, but now we don't know which one to pursue. The big house with the pool which isn't quite in the right area? The medium-size house in the right area but with no backyard? Or the smaller house in the right area with a nice backyard but maybe was just a little too small? All three were lovely with many good points and one bad point. We can't easily chase them all because it can get very expensive with building inspections and stuff. We need to start with one, and take into account that the others might get snapped up while we negotiate and maybe don't get it after all. So we need to decide! And we keep going back and forth, preferring this one then that one. We should be happy to have such wealth of choice, and actually we'd be happy with any of the three. I just hope we get one of them!

In any case, it's really reassuring that there are plenty of good houses out there and missing out on one good one doesn't mean you'll never find one.

Super tired. I'll talk about my new plans for weight loss tomorrow.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Test driving cars


Tim took the day off work today so we could get stuff done. One thing was looking for a new car. When I say "new", we wanted a decent second-hand car, not too old. We love our current car but it's about 13 years old now and needs repairs more often, and we worry about reliability on our long trips when it makes funny noises and doesn't want to turn sharp corners. We test drove a few and didn't buy anything, the only one I liked was a new new car! A bit more money than we wanted to spend, considering we need all our money to buy a house very soon! But we need something soon. We'll do some more looking, I don't know when we'll find the time though.

In the past I'm sure car salesmen have just let us take out cars by ourselves (after taking photocopies of ID) but this time each one came with us. Odd. The last one was funny, he said he would drive the car first to get to a quieter place then let us drive. Like we were nervous teenage L-platers instead of adults who drive around that area all the time! Canberra isn't exactly a big city with lots of traffic either. He was probably 20 years younger than us. Maybe he just enjoyed the chance to get out and drive a car instead of being at the car yard all day. He drove quite a long way and finally pulled over to let Tim drive - in our own quiet suburban street! He was giving Tim directions about which way to go and I said "that's our house" and he got a bit subdued after that and just let us drive around and swap when we wanted to, and even let me drive it back to the yard although I asked if he wanted to.

We have a lot of houses to see tomorrow, I'm really hoping we see one (or more) that we like enough to make an offer for. We've definitely decided against that land, it's just too small and oddly shaped. If we see any other blocks before buying an existing house, we'll consider it again.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

An endless parade of strange men in my house


Another couple of days of various things getting ready for moving. Today we had a handyman here fixing a final couple of things, then the building and pest inspection man to do his inspection (no major issues there). An endless parade of strange men in my house! That sounds more exciting than it is. I did a bit more housework. I cleaned under the sink, where the bin sits and exudes nastiness, and wiped down all the walls and doors around the inside of the house. Also did a lot of research about houses to potentially build on this empty block we are considering buying.

I don't think that is going to work out. It is quite a small block, and the house I want just won't fit on it. There is a "carriageway" (right of way, presumably in case they later build in what is currently bushland) down the side that you can't build on and that takes up a lot of space, and the block is at the end of a cul-de-sack so it is an odd fan shape, very narrow at the front and wide at the back. I have a copy of the plans for the house that the previous owner planned to build, they obviously had architects work out the optimal floor plan for the space instead of going to one of the big building companies. We would have to get something very similar, and it's not exactly what we want. Do we go to all the trouble (and waiting up to a year) of building for ourselves when it's not perfect, and might be really expensive to organise? If we're going for close-enough, we might as well buy a pre-built house. Still thinking about it.

Luckily I have found about ten houses to look at this weekend. We really need to find and buy in the next couple of weeks if we want to avoid renting for a while. Kinda stressful. But we'll find somewhere eventually. What I find stressful is that it's not just a matter of finding a house we like and can afford, but then we have to go through the whole auction process and probably not get it anyway! Some of those we'll look at this weekend have a listed price instead of going to auction, maybe we'll like one of those.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015



I wrote this post at three different times during the day. It is clear my mood was different each time!

Not quite so frantic this morning! Although our real estate agent was coming to have a proper look around, things were still pretty good from yesterday. With children (or, indeed, anyone living in the house), nothing stays perfect for long; but I only had to pick up some clothes, make the beds, wipe down the kitchen, stuff like that. It's looking pretty good here. Apart from the dining table, which is covered in stuff we still need to deal with, and a few things like cleaning the outdoor furniture, we're feeling close to ready for our house to go on the market Saturday week.

Also today the window guys came to deal with our bathroom window which needed some work. Another thing done and dusted.

I've been dealing with mood swings a bit lately. Probably a combination of stress, not enough sleep, and poor diet. I'll go from feeling confident and relaxed to depressed and overwhelmed for no obvious reason. I know I feel better when I've achieved something in the day and eaten well, but it's hard to do either of those things when I'm feeling low. It's easier to sit around and feel sorry for myself.

I spent a couple of hours at a friend's house after school and we looked at houses online while the kids played. She found a block of land I'd somehow missed, in the area we want to move into and apparently within our price range (taking into account the cost of building a house on the land, which we are still looking into). It is going to be auctioned on Saturday - which means of course the price is only a guide. I have looked at land before, but it was either too expensive or on a sloping rocky difficult block which would make building the house a lot more expensive. This block is relatively flat and has already been cleared - someone bought it a year ago and had housing plans approved but it seems they don't want it any more - it is not a huge block which has its downside of course but also makes it more affordable.

My friend and I looked at some builder's sites and I found a house plan that I love, hopefully they will contact me soon with prices. I know the price can vary a lot depending on a lot of factors but it would be nice to have a general idea so we know how much we could spend on the land.

Having to rent for a while, while the house is built, is a bit of a hassle, but it would solve some problems. It would give us time to sell this house (we'd need some money to buy the land, but not as much upfront as if we bought an existing house), we'd know what area we'd end up in so could settle the kids into the correct school straight away, and we would end up with a house that suited us perfectly! I am quite excited by the prospect. But there are many hurdles to jump yet. I can dream, can't I?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Clean carpets


When I told Aiden it was time to get up this morning, he asked for a day off school because we'd had such a big weekend. I totally empathised, although I couldn't allow it. Tired though we may be, we all had duties for the day.

The carpets were being cleaned this morning so as much furniture as possible had to be moved into the kitchen and bathrooms. Tim went to work leaving me with that job! I cursed him a few times as I dragged heavy things around by myself. (When he got home tonight he said he thought it was just the normal cleaner coming not the carpet cleaner, so I guess I'll forgive him.) At least the house was pretty tidy and uncluttered already. But I was still tired from the day before, and as usual I'd been awake since about 5am, so it was hard work moving everything around.

The two courses of antibiotics reduced my pelvic pain by a lot, but not entirely. I hoped it would then get completely better on its own but it had remained as a dull ache that bothers me in the early hours of the morning or if I stand too long. I need to get a blood test to see if I've been successfully absorbing the Vitamin B12 tablets that I started three months ago, so I'll be seeing my doctor soon and I'll ask her then about the continuing abdominal pain. I'm still having no other symptoms, which makes it hard to diagnose.

The carpet cleaning guy came and did his work as I sat and looked at houses online. As usual the carpets came up pretty nice. It's only been three months since the last clean. I don't think of myself as much of a house-cleaner, but the various people that come to steam-clean always seem quite relieved at the state of the carpets here and tell me horror stories about soaked-in dog urine and people who don't vacuum for decades. I guess I'm not so bad!

After that I did the grocery shopping,  only for three days because I was too tired to plan any further ahead than that! Then I had a bit of a rest before moving all the furniture back. I'd put some chairs outside because I'd run out of non-carpet floor space. They were under cover and not particularly near any flowering trees, but when I went to bring them in they were covered in yellow pollen! So many wattle trees in full flower at the moment.

I seem to be keeping other aspects of my life under control at the moment, but not my diet. Still turning to the wrong sorts of foods to get me through the day.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Auctions and Fathers' Day


Well we didn't get either of the houses we wanted :( It was a long, exhausting and exciting - if ultimately a bit disappointing - day.

To start with, on the drive to Sydney I suddenly realised we were nearly out of petrol. I noticed it just before the warning light went on. The problem was we were on the highway in the middle of nowhere. We pushed on and made it to the next petrol station, but the needle was pretty low! That was a bit stressful. Then we looked at one new house, didn't appeal to us, then went to the auction for our favourite house.

We still loved it and I think we nearly got it. Tim went one bid over our maximum, just in case, but the other remaining bidder went higher and we just couldn't. Actually the other guy then tried to bid again, not realising he had it, so I guess he had even more to spend. We were disappointed but know there are more houses coming on the market every week and we'll find one.

We had a quick lunch then saw another new house, nope, then the second auction. This house, we weren't so sure about. We looked around for a long time and only decided to bid at the last minute. But it went way over our limit almost straight away. I'm not upset about that one, it was a lovely house but didn't really suit us perfectly like the other one did.

If we don't find a house to buy very soon, then we'll have to rent for a while in Sydney while we look after Tim starts work there. In some ways that won't be a bad thing, it means we can sell this house first and not have to borrow so much money. But it's tricky not knowing which school to send the kids too. And a pain having to move twice. I guess we'd keep most of our stuff in storage. But it would be so convenient being on the spot to go look at houses, instead of having to drive four hours each way.

One funny thing was that every list of auction hints we saw suggested we dress well, so we did. I think it's supposed to intimidate other bidders into thinking you are rich, so they don't bother to bid against you. But at both houses the winner of the bidding was dressed in ratty dirty clothes. I'm sure it makes no difference at all. It depends on how much money you have to spend on the house, not your clothes!

We dropped in for a quick visit to Tim's brother, then the long drive home. Tim was already exhausted from the stress - he did all the bidding - and I collapsed when we got home. Such a big day. We both still felt pretty tired this morning.

Today was Fathers' Day, but we had a lot to do today as we had a skip bin sitting out the front ready for our final load of rubbish, including the old trampoline that we had to dismantle first! We have to concentrate on getting this house ready for sale.We spent hours clearing all the junk we'd collected. Tim took apart the trampoline and I trudged up and down the driveway with the wheelbarrow full of parts, and other junk from the garage and garden shed. How many plastic pots does one person need? Really physically exhausting.

It turns out that the trampoline, and the posts that held up the safety netting, were a spider condo. Nothing deadly, but none of us are keen on spiders. And this is Australia, so some of them were pretty big!

Tim had mentioned at work that he was throwing away a treadmill on the weekend (they are impossible to sell because so many people buy one and never use it and then try to get rid of it, the world is already full of second hand treadmills for sale) and one woman asked if she could have it. Of course he said yes, so she and her husband came to pick it up today. Hmm, he never mentioned to me he had such an attractive co-worker... She gave us a box of chocolates as thanks which was lovely, but also a bit ironic considering it was a swap for a healthy device! Maybe it should have been a bouquet of kale.

It wasn't a very healthy day food-wise. I made French Toast for breakfast, Jasmine cooked burgers for lunch, and we had roast lamb for dinner followed by lemon meringue pie. All delicious Father's Day fare, but I hope I burned off all the calories with the work I did!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Auction nerves


The auction for the house we love is tomorrow. We are really nervous! We are trying to resign ourselves to quite possibly not getting it but it's hard not to hope. Tim's cousin has been looking in the same area for over a year without success, the auctions keep going over his budget. We have a little more to spend so fingers crossed. Last time we saw him we were joking about how we could end up bidding against each other! At least if we saw each other at an auction we could sort it out between us, but it would be very unfortunate if it was a private treaty house and we were each individually competing over the phone and not knowing who the other bidder was! I don't think that will happen though, we are not looking for quite the same thing.

It doesn't help our nerves that our real estate agent for selling this house was talking to us last night about how he will maximise the price paid to us at our auction. Tim and I both couldn't help thinking about how that will be working against us as buyers when the other people's agents are doing the same things!

I did my twice-weekly grocery shopping this morning and was driving home when it occurred to me that I no longer have a small fridge with a broken shelf. I have a medium-size fridge with all its shelves. I could probably fit a whole week's worth of groceries in instead of shopping twice a week! I think I'd run out of fruit before the end of the week though. (I don't put fruit in the fridge, but still have to fit it in the house somehow.) Did you know if a household of four people eat their recommended two pieces of fruit a day each, that is 56 pieces of fruit a week! That is a lot of fruit.

Wish me luck for tomorrow.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Getting the house ready for sale


We had the real estate agent visit tonight to sign up for him selling our house, so I spent the entire day flat out cleaning. I had already packed pretty much all the things we can live without for a couple of months, but I still had the things we are keeping unpacked to tidy away, and all the floors to vacuum etc. I had the whole house sparkling. And guess what? He didn't even look around! He'd been here six months ago when we first talked about moving and remembered it well enough for tonight's purposes, and he'll visit during the day one time soon to have another look around.... arg! Oh well, with three open houses a week I guess I'll have to keep the house clean all the time for the next six weeks anyway. (Bugger!) But my legs are so tired and my knee is aching and I feel like I spent the whole day cleaning for nothing.

But on the up side, we negotiated all the details with the agent and the house will be on the market in a couple of weeks. As I said to Tim today, I feel like I'm trying to juggle three kittens and a chainsaw. I have to co-ordinate building reports with getting final little repairs done and professional photos taken and lawyers and real estate agents and some have to be finalised before other things. But it is all coming together.

And I got a pretty good housework workout today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First day of spring


As you can see, I actually went out for a walk today! The air was full of the scents of wattle and freshly cut grass. Sunny but still a bit cool - but I warmed up enough to take off my jumper. Actually I went for three walks because I also went up to the school in the afternoon, and walked my friend's children home after a play-date here. Total of around an hour today.

That was the only time I spent moving my body, though. I was on the computer the rest of the day; organising a conveyancer (lawyer for house buying and selling), carpet cleaning, real estate agent etc. Not even any packing today!