Sunday, November 29, 2015

More about hair


Ironically, I slept really poorly in my own bed at home. Partly because I was too hot even with no covers, partly because Tim was snoring a bit, but mostly because I was worried about Jasmine's hair. If you're not, and never have been, an almost-teenage girl this will probably seem silly. But she really didn't want to have it cut, especially not a dramatically short pixie cut. And after hours of trying to detangle it every afternoon and evening last week, I had made little progress on the big matted clump of hair. It had seemed hopeful at first as I combed out the knots around the main tangle, but once I got to that fist-sized lump of felt the progress stopped. I was literally easing out one hair at a time, and often those snapped leaving a damaged frizz that probably wasn't salvageable anyway. Did you know you have approximately 90,000 hairs in your head (100,000 follicles, not all in use at one time)? I calculated it would take me nearly three years at that rate, and that was assuming it wasn't re-tangling each day. Which I think it was.

I lay awake from before 4am worrying and deciding what to do, and then felt sick all day like I was betraying my daughter by making a hairdresser appointment. I didn't tell her until after school because I didn't want to spoil her whole day. Or was it wrong to not give her much time to prepare mentally? We had already discussed the possibility, but hadn't got to the point of that decision. And guess how I dealt with the stress. The same as I always do, with food. I really don't have a handle on this emotional eating business.

Having a dramatic haircut isn't a big deal, I know, I've had them. But it's a big deal to her.

I read recently that when a toddler screams over nothing much as if it's the worst thing that's ever happened to them, it probably IS! Having a toy they want taken away is literally the worst thing that has happened in their short loved lives. I guess I can be grateful that having a short hair cut is one of the worst things that has ever happened to my daughter. Very grateful.

So she was very sad about having to go and probably get her head practically shaved at the back, but we went, and the lovely hairdresser spent an hour working on it (sometimes with a helper) and has asked us to come back for another hour tomorrow, the result of which is that Jasmine will end up with shoulder-length hair instead of (what I expected) a short pixie cut. She cut into the knot a lot so the hair is thinner, and cut off half the length as it was so damaged. But we're both very happy with that. Jasmine is very willing to go through another hour of having her hair pulled if that is the end result. Yay! Sorry for such a long post about my daughter's hair.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Kangaroo Valley


If you don't want to hear about how much I hate camping, turn away from the screen now...

The place chosen was a bit over two hours drive away, and while I can think of a million things I'd rather be doing on Saturday morning it was quite a scenic route. Part of it by the coast, then inland over a mountain range on a very steep winding road. Coming down the other side, the valley looked very green and pretty. The camp site was on the outskirts of a picturesque town, tiny but with only one road going through the area it was actually quite busy with traffic. We picked up a couple of hot chickens to have for lunch and went to the campground and to the cabin I was staying in.

The cabin was rather small and shabby and backing on to the road, but about what I would expect, and I was very grateful to have it. It had a queen bed and three bunks but I was the only one staying in it, everyone else was keen to sleep in the tents (we borrowed one from my father-in-law, Nick's family had one of their own). It was very handy to have the little fridge and the kettle in the cabin.

It had been cold and rainy in Sydney but Kangaroo Valley was hot. Nick suggested we sit outside the cabin at the bench there to eat our lunch but that was in full sun and also with a row of cabins on each side. If I'd come all this way I wanted a nice view with my lunch! So we walked down to the BBQ area and sat under cover. With a view of an weedy disused tennis court and the place where caravans siphon off their toilet tanks. I was really wondering where the pretty bit was, but decided not to make any more fuss at this point and just eat my chicken and salad.

Oh my godfather, the flies. Flies are part of life in summer in Australia, but this was beyond anything any of us had ever seen before. As soon as the meat came out, the flies were all over us and everything else. I really cannot stress enough how many flies there were, and how persistent. We spent the time trying to swish the flies away with one hand and eat with the other. I had about two bites of chicken, I was too repulsed to eat anything else. New diet regime?

I was feeling rather discouraged and really wanted to see the appealing part of this experience. We walked further down to where we were going to set up camp. It was a smoothly mown stretch around a murky pond smaller than an Olympic swimming pool; next to paddocks with a horse, a pony, three goats and some alpacas. Ah, the smell of the farm. I like animals, but it was possibly one reason there were so many flies. The best thing was the mountains rising up in the distance, and a few nice trees around the pond. Nothing about the place made me think it worth the drive. I could have found a paddock much nearer home.

You can't see in the above picture, but there were lots of tents and cars all over, including a big convention of 4WD enthusiasts who were there with their families. We ended up next to a young couple who played music from their car CD player all evening, which ended up ok as I liked the music, but it wasn't exactly the serenity of nature!

So, time to set up the tents! None of us had much experience at this, everyone including me had been camping a few times before but not on a regular basis. But we muddled through and got the two tents up and they looked pretty good. Our borrowed one was big enough for me to stand up in. Then we put together the iron fire pit as you're not allowed free range campfires. It was brand new, in pieces in a box, and took a little while to set up. I was pushing for a walk (still searching for the good bits!) and it was decided the kids would use their scooters. We had brought ours, and a new three-wheel one had been bought for little Emma. It came in parts in a box, and needed to be put together. That took a bit longer. We'd now been at the campsite for four hours.

We got in the cars and drove into town and the kids rode along the sidewalk past the rustic shops and cafes. (Emma being pushed and supported along as she had no idea how to ride a scooter.) Finally we got to the other side of town and walked down a little track to look at the river. Not too bad. Then we walked back again, stopping to have a snack at a café. Looking at the river and eating half a lemon-meringue tart were the highlights for me so far. Not much competition there! Drove back to the campsite.

We decided to have dinner quite early as we were grilling meat we'd brought and there were only two barbeques for a lot of people. We got one going without problems, set up at a table, the menfolk cooked, Emma had her usual screaming tantrum about having to stop whatever she was doing, we sat down to eat. Did you forget the flies? I didn't, they'd been bugging me (ha ha) all day. But their constant presence was nothing compared to the all-out assault they launched when they smelled dinner.

Of course I was covered in insect repellent, and I also had a new-fangled personal protection device strapped to my belt that fanned out a constant supply, but they seemed to have no effect. Actually I wasn't bothered by mosquitoes at any time, so maybe they just didn't work on flies. We covered all the food with paper towel and tried to sneak morsels to our mouths. I ate a bit more than lunchtime but gave up pretty quickly. I went and sat further away from the food and only had to deal with a tenth the flies.

We played half a round of putt putt golf (mini golf) but then had to hand the equipment back before they closed. Still, that was quite fun. Then we went back to the tents and lit the fire and everyone else had marshmallows while I ate crackers and camembert cheese. Nick tried cheese on a stick over the fire, but it just tasted like smoke. The best thing was that all the smoke drove away the flies! For the first time since we got there I could sit in peace.
Everyone seemed to agree that sitting around the fire was the nicest part of the day. I went to bed in my cabin about 9pm and slept really well. I think the others were less comfortable, but they got the genuine camping experience they were after so I assume that was ok.
The morning was so frustrating. For starters, the flies were out in full force even without the smell of cooked meat. They were driving me crazy. We were going to a café in town for breakfast but we took down the tents first. Tim and I were packed and ready quickly, but it must have been an hour after that before Nick and Ping were ready, even with Tim's help taking down their little tent and the fire pit. We were starving. I actually sat in the car and ate some Burger Rings, eventually. We finally got to the café and were served breakfast at 10am. I'd been awake for more than four hours by that stage.
Nick was keen to stay - and in fact they did, and went fishing - but we'd had enough and drove home. So glad to be home!
I do have some understanding of why people would travel long distances and endure discomforts to see something exceptional - great natural beauty or wildlife or something like that - but I have no comprehension of the benefits of going through all that (ok, we didn't travel that far) to camp in a paddock. Where we still had to drive to actually go anywhere. It is beyond me. I'm happy that the kids had a great time somehow, but next time they can leave me at home.

Thursday, November 26, 2015



Another creature has been added to the "this woman gives out free food" menagerie, or was probably hanging around all along and I just didn't see him. Boris is a lizard longer than my arm. Maybe from the water dragon family. There is a little creek just across the road and I've seen a couple around there. He keeps to the edges, probably trying to avoid kookaburras, but didn't seem particularly afraid of me. I didn't go too close.

The baby magpie annoyed me this morning. Turned up alone after all the food was gone, sat on my outdoor table and demanded attention very loudly and persistently, and poohed all over the table. Not that much different to a human baby I guess! Interesting to see it here without its parents after only a couple of supervised visits.

Really sleepy today with a dopey head and heavy eyelids. Just the heat I think. Another scorcher. I felt much better after the cool change came through in the evening. Weather is up and down, up and down. The forecast for Kangaroo Valley on the weekend is cool on Saturday, warm and rainy on Sunday. I'm trying not to think of it as camping and feeling more positive about it. Yes I'll have to endure some outdoor activities and an evening BBQ with the mosquitoes, but I get to sleep in a cabin with a real bed and bathroom, it is a pretty location, and there are cafes and a picturesque little town nearby if it does rain on the Sunday. I won't exactly be roughing it! The kids are very excited but Tim is exhausted with new job and long commutes and would really rather stay home (it was all his brother's idea in the first place). My complaining probably isn't helping his mood.

The pool guy came and it would be pretty expensive. We are still thinking about it. And it wouldn't be finished until mid-February, which is the end of summer! I think the kids would love a pool so much.

I haven't met any neighbours yet. I thought it would happen naturally if we were in our front yards at the same time, getting the mail or something, but that hasn't happened. The side and back fences are all high solid colourbond. I'm not really comfortable going and knocking on front doors. We've been out a lot on the weekends, or else buried inside unpacking. Lots of people have children the right ages to play with mine, but there are lots of schools around here so they go to different ones. I might have to be more pro-active about meeting people.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

American cheese


I was out and about today, and at lunchtime I found myself with a choice between KFC or an American-style burger place. I went with the burger place but ordered nachos, and specified no sour cream (not for any virtuous reason, I just don't like it). When it came out it had pale orange stuff squeezed all over it and I wasn't sure what it was at first. Had they given me sour cream after all, and it had orange mould in it which had changed the colour and made it go runny, and someone had scraped it into a squeeze bottle and forgotten to throw it away? No, tasted kind of like... nothing much really... maybe mayonnaise with a bit of cheese powder mixed in? OMG it was supposed to be cheese! WTF? Is this really what "American cheese" is like? I'd say it was horrible but it didn't have enough flavour for that. Bland and cold, nothing like the bubbling melted cheese I'm used to. It wasn't the worst nachos I've ever had, but it was certainly the strangest. Melted cheese (real cheese, can't believe I have to specify that) is the best bit of nachos. It was an interesting experience and I don't regret it although I didn't eat much of my lunch, all knowledge is worth having. I guess I tried a new "food" today lol.

When I make nachos I top the meat and corn chips with two kinds of cheese, and jalapenos, and salsa, and chopped tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber and lettuce. Delicious!

It was too hot today for Jasmine to ride her bike to school (Aiden was ok, his school is much closer) so she caught the bus for the first time alone! She's probably been on a bus ten times in her whole life. I walked her to the bus stop and made sure she got on ok. At the end of the day I walked to the bus stop so she could see me and be sure she was getting off at the right stop - but she was already off and walking towards me before I got there. She did great.

My family of visiting birds keeps getting bigger, or else they visited all at different times before so I didn't realise how many. They come and call me at all different times but I'm restricting feeding to morning and evening or it will get too expensive in meat! There is one butcher bird, three kookaburras (one might be a large baby, it's the end of spring here), and three magpies, one of which is definitely a big baby. The two adults will take food from my hand, the baby will sit and screech and wait for mummy to put the food in his mouth. Even if it's right in front of him. I also put out discarded fruit for the parrots but that is out the back rather than the side kitchen window so I don't often see who comes to eat that. Still, finally a use for all of Aiden's half eaten apples and nectarines gone bad in the heat! Fruit doesn't last as long in Sydney's humidity, I might have to start refrigerating some of it. Canberra got hot too, but never humid. We have to put the rubbish out pretty quick here too or it starts to smell.

A man is coming tomorrow to assess our block for a pool, an in-ground one may not be possible within a reasonable budget due to narrow access at the sides and rocky ground to dig up. But we'll see. Like with the dining tables, the pool fashion of the moment seems to be solid clumpy rectangles. We want swoops and curves. I chose this place because it does still have a model like that. Crossed fingers.

Third time lucky


I went to the RTA again today with all my fingers and toes crossed. Third time lucky, I only had to wait about half an hour and then my form and documents were all complete and correct. There was a bit of an issue, for some reason the RTA's computer couldn't find me on the Births Deaths and Marriages computer to confirm my (original) marriage certificate. But after about ten minutes of trying and pen-twirling, the staff called another lady over and then it worked straight away. Doesn't that always happen when you get your supervisor or IT help desk or plumber or whatever looking over your shoulder. I swear it didn't work a moment ago! Anyway, I walked out with a NSW driver licence and that is what I've been trying for the past couple of weeks so I was happy. And the photo was better than the last one, too.

Spent more time after school and in the evening working on Jasmine's hair. I think I am making some progress, but it is slow going. A lot of hair ends up in the comb, but the section of smooth tangle-free hair is slowly growing. Still less than a quarter.

I went for a short walk this morning, my first morning walk since last Tuesday. Which means I got bin day again! Walking past all those lovely fragrant garbage bins. Oh well. If I do it more regularly, it won't always be bin day.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The great hair disaster

re Monday:

Jasmine has been brushing her own hair for a few years now (she's nearly 12), it is very long but she loves her hair and seemed to take good care of it. She has it in a ponytail or a plait all the time nowadays, she used to always wear it loose. The last couple of months I'd noticed it seemed messier than usual and I'd tell her to go and brush it, but was too distracted by moving house to pay much attention. Only in the last couple of days did I realise it was very tangled indeed, and she'd been actively hiding the fact from me (she is a physical coward and avoids anything that might hurt, like me brushing knots out of her hair). Last night I held her still and investigated. It was so much worse than I had imagined. The whole back of her head is a matted lump almost like felt. It's not obvious because there is a comb-over of smooth hair over the top, but as soon as you touch it you can feel this ball of tightly tangled hair. She blames her new brush - which was supposed to be "de-tangling"! I guess she'd just been avoiding the problem hoping it would go away as it got worse and worse. And I felt like the worst mother in the universe to not pick up on it before now.

I was scared at first that it was unsalvageable, that she would literally have to get the back of her head shaved and just have short hair around her face until it grew back. This would devastate her, she loves her long hair. But we sat and watched Biggest Loser and I spent an hour gently working on it with a variety of brushes and combs, and some olive oil to help it slip. I tried to remain upbeat and positive with her, and it did gradually untangle at the edges. In that hour I would say I fixed way less than a quarter of the felting. But at least it's a start. An hour every night for a week might get us there without her losing all her hair - only the hundreds of strands coming out on the brush.

I feel so horribly horribly guilty that I didn't notice.

I think it is very typical of her to ignore problems, avoid pain or discomfort, hope any source of trouble will just go away without her mentioning it or taking any action, go along with whatever is easiest. A bit worrying for her upcoming teenage years.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday dinner


Today we put up the new artwork and did some more unpacking. I've finished the kitchen now. Gradually working our way through the house from front to back. We still have the kids bedrooms to finish and the big one - the study/rumpus.

Nick, Ping and little Emma came over for our new regular Sunday family dinner (grandad is away this weekend). Everything went well except for when Emma was saying "mine, mine" and I said "actually that is mine" as I took it away (she'd already damaged it). Boy that kid can scream! She's not really used to being said "no" to. We've had a slightly rocky relationship ever since I wouldn't let her stick her finger in a pencil sharpener.

Last weekend they made a yummy mango dessert but then poured sweetened condensed milk all over it. So sweet! I only had a couple of bites. This weekend I did home-made unsweetened Greek yoghurt with mango pieces in it (and a chocolate ball on top) and I think they found it a bit tart. The mango made it sweet enough for me. And yet they have their tea with no sugar, and I can't give up my little bit! It's what you're used to, I guess.

Tim and his brother want to take us all camping next weekend. I didn't go last time a year or more ago, and really don't want to go this time but feel like I should. I don't find anything appealing about camping. What is there to like? Horrible beds, mosquitoes and flies and spiders (remember this is Australia!), no respite from the weather, camp food. The kids are all excited about campfire potatoes (yuck) and burned marshmallows (yuck) and kayaking (hurts my damaged shoulders). Sounds like a weekend of misery and torture to me. I would be happy to stay home and let them all go like last time, but for some reason they want me to go and are making all these allowances for me, like an air conditioned cabin so I get a proper bed and a lockable door, while they stay in tents. So I feel like I have to go. What a waste of a weekend. Since I've agreed to go, I will now endeavour to change my mindset and look forward to happy times, and try not to ruin everyone's fun with my grumpy resentful attitude. At least the weather is supposed to be good. Anyone got any nice things to say about camping?

Saturday, November 21, 2015



Most of the day was taken up with shopping for a kitchen/dining table, our second weekend trudging from store to store. The problem is we weren't finding one we loved anywhere. I did love that French-style one I posted last week (we visited that one again) but Tim just didn't like it. Apart from a few rare examples, the fashion in tables at the moment seems to be for big thick slabs of timber on two heavy supports that impede where you can put your legs. Not our style at all. We had the perfect table in mind but couldn't find it anywhere. So in the end we settled for one we both liked well enough. Or thought we did, the moment we walked out after paying a deposit I was plagued with doubts. It's a big expense and something you don't replace very often, and it seemed such a shame to "settle" for one we didn't love. I took a photo but I'm not going to post it because it looks weird and kinda green and worse than I'm sure it actually is and it makes me sad to look at it. I keep reminding myself I did like it in the store! It has a parquetry top with pieces of wood laid in a pattern, rather than one big slab. I think it will suit the space and it's extendable for big family dinners and will be here in time for Christmas.

I also wasn't excited about the chairs, we decided for practical reasons to get faux leather covers on the padded seats rather than pretty upholstery because our children still haven't mastered the art of getting food directly from their plates to their mouths. Aiden has a very relaxed attitude towards cutlery. We had our current chairs reupholstered only a year or so ago and they are filthy again. So something easily cleaned was a sensible choice.

Cheering me up from the general disappointment of not getting exactly what I had imagined, we did pick up a few cute pieces of art as we wandered around the furniture stores. We got this lovely pair for the lounge room;

And this for our bedroom;

And a couple of cushions;

All birds! I was really surprised at how inexpensive pretty things like this can be.

In the evening I went out with a couple of "the girls" from Tim's side of the family. We saw the current Hunger Games movie and then sat at a rooftop café and had a drink.

I continue to make some good choices and some bad choices with food. I had Twisties (cheese flavoured snacks) in the movie, but didn't eat all of the bag and threw the rest in the bin. I thought about taking the rest home for later but reminded myself we weren't having a Twistie shortage and I could buy more another time. Maybe not at the movies though, they were $5.70 for a medium size bag! That would be about $2 in a supermarket. The café we went to was basically a dessert bar -- a chocolate dessert bar! I drooled over the menu and promised myself I would come back sometime to try the food, but only had a lemon/lime juice on crushed ice which was delicious. The others had tea or coffee, so no one ate which was good for me. I wasn't hungry, but if someone else had ordered it would have been hard to resist. Chocolate dessert isn't about hunger!

Thursday, November 19, 2015



I got up this morning to a freezing house. Tim had left the air conditioning on all night, and then closed our bedroom door so we were nice and warm, but as soon as I left our room my toes started to get frostbite. I had to put on socks and a dressing gown. But I quickly came to miss that chilly air. We had heatwave conditions today. I was fine inside, but when I went to pick up the children from school (much too hot to ride their bikes) I could feel my nose-hairs crisping up. I can be very grateful that our new house has excellent air conditioning! I feel sorry for everyone who had to be out in it, including all those poor school children in hot classrooms. In Aiden's class they were doing experiments with water displacement, putting their bare feet in trays of water to see how much the level would rise. Excellent idea!

My task today was to work on getting the house in order. We still have plenty of boxes still to unpack, but I'd also been letting general tidying and maintenance slide. I worked on the lower house today. We have a split level, with four steps up from the mainly carpeted lounge/dining/master bed/ensuite bathroom and garage, up to the mainly tiled rest of the house. I tidied and vacuumed and folded laundry (I always use our bed to fold clothes on) and unpacked a couple more boxes and rearranged the garage a bit and took all the empty flattened boxes out to the garage. The original plan was that the boxes were a loan from the removalist company but now they say they rarely come this way and I might as well keep them. I don't want 148 cardboard moving boxes! I will advertise them to give away once we've finished unpacking.

And I paid some bills and sewed a spare button onto Aiden's other school shirt (yes, already) and looked at wallpaper online and basically felt like I had a very productive day.

I also found plenty of time to read. I borrowed a random book from the library the other day, from a shelf where the librarian displays some interesting books to tempt you, completely different to what I usually read, but I could hardly put it down. It was a crime thriller called "Eeny Meeny" M.J.Arlidge about a policewoman tracking down a serial killer who traps two people together and starves them and only released one if they kill the other person. So one is dead the other traumatised. Maybe not ground-breaking literature, but it was very exciting. I stayed up too late last night and then finished it after lunch today.

Cool change supposed to come through tonight.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015



Moving state means I have to change my driver licence instead of just getting a change of address sticker put on my old one. It's free though, thank goodness considering I still have four and a half years to go on my five year licence. There isn't an RTA (roads and traffic authority) office really near here, but there is one near where my sister-in-law works so I organised to have lunch with her last Monday and made the trip over there.

My hair was perfect for the photo ID, make-up good, clothes nice. All my documents ready. I got a ticket and waited patiently to be attended to. But there was a problem. Because I had a driver licence in this state, New South Wales, in my youth in my maiden name, they now needed to see my wedding certificate. Even though I've had an Australian Capital Territory driver licence in my married name for the past thirteen years. Not good enough, sorry. Frustrating. But I quietly went away without venting my annoyance and unpacked some more boxes and found my wedding certificate and went back in today.

Hair only mediocre, sore eye, wasn't looking forward to photo. I needn't have worried. The office was much more crowded and I had to wait an hour, only to find I still didn't have the documentation I needed. They had very specific requirements as to proof of change of address, the only one from their list that I could access was a copy of the contract of sale for buying this house. And of course a copy wasn't good enough, I needed the original (currently in the hands of the lawyers). Why did I ever think it would be that easy!?

What a waste of a morning. I will have to go in a third time after getting a signed declaration from someone who lives in NSW and has known me for more than 12 months (luckily there are plenty of those around).

Today was ridiculously hot. I drove the kids to and from school as it was too hot to ride (Tim fixed Jasmine's bike last night, it's fine). Picking up Aiden is always a small hassle because by the time I've collected Jasmine there are no close parking spots at Aiden's school. Last week the storm opened just as he got out of his classroom and we practically swam back to the car, today it was struggling through the magma heat a couple of blocks, feeling our skin crisping up like pork crackling. Tomorrow is forecast to be even worse, 41C (105.8F). We've put water bottles and juice boxes in the freezer for them to take to school, they might still be cool by lunchtime. And we've got air conditioning and ice cream to come home to. I'll be staying safely at home the rest of the day when I'm not ferrying the kids around.

I remember a persistent rumour back when I was in Primary School that if it got to 45C they had to let us go home. That turned out not to be true (how could it be, with a lot of parents at work!) but they did let us sit quietly in the classroom and gave us free icy poles (like frozen lemonade) from the canteen. Last year (or the year before?) we were driving home from a beach holiday when it got to the high 40s, even over 50 in some places. It was fine in the car, but every time we stepped out it honestly felt like getting into an oven. That was an unusual heatwave, even the 41C predicted tomorrow is a bit excessive and we wouldn't have more than one or two days like that each year. I suppose they are going to get more common.

I've been really sleepy all day. I foresee a summer full of naps. I've stalled a bit on the unpacking and haven't even looked at my novel yet. Cool change on Saturday, hopefully we'll get more done on the weekend.

Lunchtime walk


Lovely start to the day; breakfast in the covered courtyard (I allow myself bacon around once a week) after everyone else had left. I don't usually read newspapers, but this local one was delivered so I decided to get into the spirit of the area.

I went inside to my desk and the kookaburra visited. I mentioned yesterday I was giving them cooked meat, well a lot of it was left behind so I guess they didn't like it. This morning I put out some raw meat - trimmings from my steak - and that went very quickly.

I did deskwork most of the morning while waiting for a registered letter to arrive. You'll remember settlement on our Canberra house was supposed to happen last Monday but there was a document missing, well that was all sorted out and we settled on Thursday. Today we got the cheque. As soon as it came I walked up to the shopping centre and deposited it into our account. As soon as it clears it will of course go on the mortgage for this house! It was a great relief when settlement was finalised.

It was very hot outside, but I walked the back way along a path in a very narrow strip of bushland, only a couple of hundred metres wide at most. Sometimes you walk along directly behind houses, other times you have native bush on both sides and can only see houses and streets off through the trees. I feel safe because I can see civilisation at all times (but I still wouldn't walk it at night). Much more shady than walking along the roads, and about the same distance.

It was nearly lunchtime when I went out but this time I made sure I wasn't hungry! I did buy myself a food treat while I was there - a mango. Yummy. And I dropped into the library to exchange my books. Then I walked home to a house about 10C cooler than outside, had a drink and recovered, and had a lovely lunch.


It turned into a very stressful afternoon. Jasmine texted to ask if I could pick her up from school as it was too hot to ride home. Timing was going to be an issue with Aiden getting home soon, so I told her to ride part-way and I would pick her up at a particular side street. Getting out of our quiet street took forever, with three or four schools within a couple of blocks of here (two private) the pick-up traffic was horrendous and there were cars backed up all around the round-about as if they were parked there. But I got out eventually by being a bit pushy and drove to the meeting place. Jas wasn't there yet. So I kept going, all the way to her school. The bike path is right beside the road, how could I have missed her? Drove back to the appointed corner, waited, stress levels rising. Where was she? Time was ticking on as well. As I got out my phone to call, she texted me. She'd gone down the side street instead of waiting at the corner, and was right down the other end!! Miscommunication there. That street is blocked off to cars half-way down, so I had to go round the block. Got there eventually.

Next challenge, the bike wouldn't fit in the car. I'd been worried about that. She's now using my old bike, so it's small adult size. I tried to take off the front wheel like Tim does, but with no idea what I was doing. It wouldn't come off. Flashbacks to when Tim broke his shoulder blade and I had to get his bike into the car to drive him to hospital. That bike needed more doctoring that he did to get it back in working order after I was done with it. With my stress levels at exploding point, I got the wheel half off which meant the bike could no longer even be wheeled along, let alone ridden. I used brute force and wrestled the bike into the back seat where it stuck out at one side. Drove home with the car door slightly open, to find Aiden waiting but fine. I was probably silly to stress so much, but I honestly don't know what he would have done if he was waiting for a long time. We don't know any neighbours and we hadn't discussed it. I don't envy Tim trying to put the wheel back on the bike, I may have left some random parts behind in the gutter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Tuesday evening:

My "diet" plan is a bit different to my usual all-or-nothing technique, I don't know whether that is a good thing or not. This morning I weighed exactly the same as last Wednesday. I'm just trying to make good decisions on a moment-by-moment basis. Quite a few times, I have resisted eating something after questioning myself and deciding I didn't really want it. But sometimes I found I DID really want it! This morning I made the very bad decision of going shopping just before lunchtime after eating nothing since breakfast (generally I have a snack at morning tea time, I aim for fruit). I was planning to buy something to make for lunch at home. But when I got there my stomach was growling and I was genuinely hungry, and it would be an hour before I was home again (I had a few shops to go to). And I walked past a doughnut shop. When I say walked past....

On the up side, a large chocolate doughnut did hold off my hunger until I was home again, so I didn't fill my trolley with junk as I probably would have done if I'd grocery shopped while hungry. On the down side, it wasn't exactly the best nutritional choice. I could have walked a little further to the fruit shop. Or got a Subway sandwich or something instead of delaying lunch.

On the other up side, the doughnut was delicious and I really enjoyed it!

I went for a short walk this morning before the kids got up, about 15 minutes. Sydney was supposed to have better weather than Canberra but it's been crazy. Cold and rainy, hot and humid, steamy then storms. Today was very nice, but the temperature is set to climb to 38C (100.4F) by Friday, then drop to 22C (71.6F) on the weekend. I'm alternating between summer pyjamas and winter fleece! If I want to exercise outside for the rest of this week it will have to be first thing in the morning. My plan is to gradually explore the neighbourhood.

The other day I walked past the local Catholic school and got into a conversation with the crossing guard/lollypop lady. I told her I'd just moved here and was looking around, she seemed to take that to mean I was looking for a good school and really put the hard sell on about the Catholic school - although she looked a bit dubious when I said I wasn't Catholic. She was telling me how good it was compared to all the other schools around, and was horrified when I said we'd considered the rival Anglican school. It was quite hard to extricate myself.

Monday, November 16, 2015



We finally got internet last night! So I'm spending some time this morning catching up on Facebook and blogs and emails - in my own home! I find I haven't taken a lot of photos of the house as such, particularly since it is still pretty chaotic with full and empty boxes everywhere, but here is some of our friendly wildlife.

This is one of the two kookaburras (Australia's famous laughing bird, a type of kingfisher, its call really does sound a lot like a laugh and also like its name: koo-koo-ka-ka-ka-ka) that visits regularly. The previous owners put out meat for them and apple coated in sugar for the parrot types (not sure how healthy that is!), I hadn't planned to feed the birds but how can I resist when they come and ask?

 A magpie, very common bird which can get a bit aggressive in breeding season. Tim often gets swooped at when on his bike. I do like this one because it will take food right from my hand.

 Sulphur-crested cockatoos just outside my back door.

 A butcher bird, another meat-eater who comes to the window and calls me.

My children ready for their new schools. They are going to different schools, for the first week I drove/walked them but from yesterday they rode their bikes alone. Aiden's school is only one long block away so I shouldn't worry, Jasmine has my old phone and texts me when she gets to school. I still had a nightmare Sunday night about it though! I dreamed Aiden was only five (he is nine now) and separated from me in a crowd and I couldn't follow into the lecture theatre because I wasn't registered... woke feeling very anxious!

We spent most of Sunday furniture shopping. We came home with a couple of very bright fluffy rugs.

We were actually looking for a new kitchen table. Ours only seats four and is looks very small in the big room. We will be hosting Sunday dinner for Tim's family every second week, alternating with Nick and Ping (grandpa gets free food every week!) which means eight people plus a toddler in a high chair - and she is growing up fast. So we need an eight seat table minimum. Ten is huge but maybe an extendable one? I really liked this table:
but it's too French Provincial for Tim. It's my favourite style, but I agree it's a bit girly. Most other tables that we didn't hate were more solid respectable things. Nice enough, but not exactly exciting. We really need one before Christmas so it will have to be next weekend.

We went to Nick and Ping's this past Sunday for dinner. Lovely to have family so close.

Another thing we want is a pool! I need to get someone to come out and assess our backyard. I'm worried that it is expensively rocky, with lots of trees to clear (and I think there are laws about planting new ones when you remove native trees) and difficult access up the narrow side of the house. Have to see what they quote.

The previous owners left lots of the quirky little elements they had in their garden, which I love. I'm surprised they left this one, which apparently represented their four grandchildren:

There are lots of others, like this chicken.

I've been for a couple of walks around the neighbourhood. There are some very impressive houses. Like this one:
But think of all the cleaning! No, wait, if you had a house like that you would have a maid or something. Anyway, I'm happy with our house.

My desk looks out into that courtyard next to the kitchen (the same angle as that first photo), so I just went out to feed to kookaburra who came and sat on the roof and laughed at me. I hope it's not a problem that I am giving them cooked meat - leftover roast beef with various spices. They don't seem to be complaining. It is a lovely spot here at my desk.

I am still a tiny bit unnerved here alone sometimes when all is quiet and there are little noises around the house or outside. I've planned my escape route for it a homicidal maniac breaks in.

Well I do have other things to do today, so I'd better get on with it. More unpacking awaits!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015



I can't remember ever getting excited before about getting a gas bill! But it has our new address on it so we can use it as proof to get new drivers licences etc, and I got a library card today. Just popped in here to get a walk and break from packing.

We sent that form in to our lawyers and settlement on the Canberra house should happen today, fingers crossed. And, despite them saying on the phone that it would take 2-3 weeks last time I spoke to them, an email said we should get Internet tomorrow. Everything is happening.

I should take a moment to be grateful for how things are going. I am loving the new house (on the outside it is the ugliest in a street of very pretty and very LARGE houses, but the inside is great, and don't they say to buy the worst house on the best street?), the kids seem happily settled at school, hopefully all the most stressful times are over for the moment ( as long as settlement goes through!). Tim is still working out the best way to get to and from the city, he got lost yesterday riding his bike to the station, and is very tired at the end of every day, but I'm sure that will work out. And he's not staying up late playing computer games! At least not until tomorrow...

I look forward to posting some pictures when we get theinternet up and running. And much as I like the library, I can live without being here every day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Speed walking


I'm spending a lot of time in the lirary but they won't give me a card because I don't have proof of my new address in this state yet! Oh well, at least I get Internet for up to four hours a day free.

Yesterday wasn't quite as healthy in terms of food intake, it was Aiden's birthday and we had lemon tarts in the afternoon and ice cream after dinner.

I am getting plenty of exercise though. The kids are going to different schools, Aiden to the nearby Primary and Jasmine to the further-away Primary attached to the High School she'll start in next February (to give her an easier transition, only 6 weeks of primary left). They'll both eventually ride their bikes when they get more confident with local Geography, but for the moment I take them. Luckily the start and end times are staggered. So we drive Jas to school, park back at home, then I walk Aiden up to his school. Same for pickup in the afternoon. I'm getting nearly an hour walking total (plus unpacking). A good start I think.

The library is also a good distance to walk except that I'm ending up doing a bit of shopping every day and need the car for that.

Yesterday afternoon we were cutting it a bit fine to pick up Aiden. Jas and I speed-walked up the long  hill in the heat. It may be only 10 mins walk at my top speed, but it nearly killed me to push that hard.  Jasmine was just strolling off ahead while I was puffing and sweating. I got very red in the face! I'm sure I'll get used to the hill. It's fine at a more relaxed pace.

This morning I weighed 85.0 kg, a loss from my peak a few weeks ago, and not bad for that time of the month when I retain extra water. I'm trying to use this move to help kickstart a healthier lifestyle that involves plenty of physical activity and occasional treats rather than everyday junk.

Monday, November 9, 2015



Back in the library, this time with my iPad to myself, because apparently we won't have internet at home for 10-20 business days! Arg!

The weekend was of course mainly spent unpacking. The lounge room is a very pleasant space now, the kitchen is mostly done, and we have enough clothes to be going on with. But there are still plenty of boxes in every room, and the study/rumpus is a complete shambles so there is still plenty to do. I'm back to a level of physical work that I can handle, tired each day but without the sore knee and aching muscles. My appetite is also back to normal, for a while I was too exhausted to eat much.

There are two rooms that will need a lot of thought and/or new furniture. The eating area off the kitchen is big, our little kitchen table is much too small there, and only fits the four of us, no extra visitors. We now have room for a big generous table there. And the study/rumpus (previous owners used it as a TV room but we have ours in the lounge) is lovely and big too, so it currently echoes cavernously with just our two computer desks and a lot of boxes. We plan to add two more desks for the kids, and also have a music and/or reading corner for the drum kit, guitar, keyboard, bookcases... It will take a bit of planning to make it look nice. The space is big - but not infinite! I'm thinking about getting some inbuilt cupboards.

On Saturday we walked up to the nearest playground, next to the shops and the library, it's less than 15 mins each way. On Sunday afternoon Tim's family came over to see the new house. We'll have a proper housewarming later but Tim's family all live close by. Also it was nearly Aiden's birthday (he turned 9 today) and also cousin Veronica's so we had a bit of a celebration for that. Pizza and cake. Aside from that I've been eating quite healthily, cooking in my new kitchen, fruit for snacks.

Yesterday ended up being very stressful and chaotic. Tim had his first day of work and Jasmine her first day of school. I handed Jas over to her teacher then Aiden and I went to visit his school. He met his teacher and we bought him a uniform. We had to visit the real estate agent who sold us the house (to hand over money for the outdoor setting we'd bought from the previous owners) and it was just across the road, we decided to take the pedestrian footbridge instead of crossing at the lights. It was very scary! Aiden talked about it for a hour afterwards. It was narrow, creaky metal, apparently of WWII construction, very high, very steep stairs. I'm scared of heights, but even Aiden vowed to never set foot on it again.

While at the real estate agents, I brought up the most important of a few things in the house we couldn't get working. We didn't know if they were broken or if there was a trick to them. One was the range hood, which is supposed to draw away steam and smoke from the stove. The agent called the previous owner who gave instructions, which later worked out fine so that was great. The other thing was the spa bath in the ensuite. That spa was a big selling point for the house for me. We've all had baths in it but can't get the jets working. Again, I was given instructions I thought I understood but when I got home found I didn't after all. I don't want to keep hassling the previous owners, they've sold and moved on, but I would like to work this out!

Next Aiden and I came to the library where I blogged and then he played games, then we went to a nearby cafe and had a very delicious lunch, then did some grocery shopping, and finally went home. Then things started getting really chaotic and stressful. Firstly I called the internet provider to find out how long before connection. After a very long wait, the consultant denied all knowledge of us expecting to have Internet set up in the new house. She had a record of Tim calling more than a week ago but with nothing finalised! Whereas I happen to know he spent well over an hour on the phone getting it, we thought, all done. I couldn't argue the point because I had been on hold so long I was now in danger of being late to pick up Jas on her first day - and I was 5 mins late which she pointed out but she was fine.

Later I got a series of emails from them confirming setting up Internet with 10-20 business days wait time, so it was obviously all ready to go but they didn't click the final approval button or something. So annoying.

In the car on the way home Jasmine mentioned she needed a pair of compasses for maths the next day. So it was back to the shops before we got to go home.

The next thing was an email from our conveyancing solicitor in Canberra, they couldn't settle on selling our house because there was one form not completed by us. How had they not sent us this
form, and how had they not noticed until the day of settlement! It was supposed to all happen yesterday, and now it didn't. So frustrating.  And I could receive emails on my phone but not send them, and I certainly couldn't print out the form.

We went back to the library, couldn't get anything working, frantic calls to Tim who of course just started in that office and didn't have a printer set up yet, gave up and home again, more calls, back to the library, finally managed to get the document sent to Tim who was able to print it out.

Home, started dinner at a time we are usually eating it, stopped cooking to pick up Tim from the station (about 10 mins drive each way), finished cooking, collapsed. This morning we got Ping to witness the form and I sent it off by Express Post. Several days delay on the buyers getting their house and us getting our money, due to our lawyers incompetence.

Oh, and can I rant about Foxtel? We got it just to watch Game of Thrones and then cancelled, which rather annoyingly you have to do over the phone, not easily via Internet. Billed the following month, cancelled again, got money refunded. Billed next month, rang yet again to cancel! Got money
refunded. Is it over yet? Apparently not. We got a letter yesterday saying that now that we'd cancelled
the service, we had to give back their set top box or be charged $300. But we never got a set top box! We had Foxtel play, which you stream though the Internet. How can their records not show that? Any chance of getting Tim as a return customer went from low to an infinitely negative number.

So yesterday afternoon was pretty horrible. I was stressed and snappy.

Today was Aiden's actual birthday so we started the day with presents in bed. So glad I bought them all weeks ago.

I dropped Jasmine at school in the car then parked back at home and walked Aiden up to his school which is close, maybe 10 mins walk. Handed him over and bought some second hand clothes at their uniform shop to supplement the new outfit I bought yesterday. Walked home, drove up to the post office to Express Post that document, came to the library and spent about an hour and a half typing this. And now we're up to date with my life.

I have lost a little weight with all the work and not eating as much, trying to stay away from the junk food since I got a kitchen. I plan to join the gym at some point but for the moment I have as much physical activity as I can deal with.

And now to catch up on everyone else's blogs! Then lunch, and more unpacking.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

New home


We are settled into our new home! We still don't have Internet set up at home so I'm writing this on my iPad at the library. I have lots to say so I might write in instalments, and so many blogs to catch up on reading. I have Aiden with me, impatient to get a turn on the Internet (apparently my iPhone just isn't good enough) so I'll have to be quick.

Thursday we loaded up the truck in Canberra. The removalists did all the carrying but Tim and I still had about three hours work packing up last minute things, after another poor night's sleep. It poured rain for a while then drizzled the rest of the morning. We found a few of the boxes a bit soggy later on. The removalists couldn't get the truck down our long windy driveway so they had to walk up and down the slope. I got soaked early on and then rather cold later when I stopped working.

I left at about 1pm to get to Sydney in time to pick up the keys, leaving Tim to deal with the removalists and help the professional cleaner clean and wait for the kids to get home from school. It was a long boring drive by myself but I got there just at 5 and got my new house keys! That was exciting. Then I went around to the house and explored. The previous owners fed the birds so as soon as I satoutside I had a kookaburra visitor - I will add the picture later. Since then I have had regular visits from two kookaburras, a butcher bird and a magpie, all demanding meat. The butcher bird is practically tame and sits on the window sill while I'm washing up. The kids also saw a big lizard in the garden, and I've seen little lizards and a million other birds.

Eventually I headed over to my brother-in-law Nick's house as we were staying there the night, and Tim and the kids arrived soon after. I was really exhausted after a long week and it was possibly the first time I've felt really irritated with my lovely sister-in-law. She kept pushing food on me when I didn't want to eat (I eventually had a little to not be rude), she kept pushing for us to stay several nights when I was very keen to get into my own house, and she just wouldn't take no for an answer about coming over to help unpack the next day. I felt that it would just be chaos with the removalists there and there was no urgency unpacking when we'd be so tired, but she insisted and I would have had to be very rude to prevent it. I reminded myself that it was all coming from her loving personality and tried to let it go, but I really felt like she wasn't listening to what I wanted at all. I was probably at lot more tired and cranky than usual.

Worst night yet in a string of terrible night's sleep, hard bed with a streetlight just outside the window (I woke at 3am and honestly thought it was morning with the sun coming up), Ping cooked us a lovely breakfast then she went on some errands while we went home.

Houses look big empty! Tim and I planned out where the furniture was to go then the truck arrived. We had (arguably) better weather, really hot and humid from rain during the night, and a big storm just after the removalists left. The removalists did all the heavy work, the driveway was too steep (but short) for the truck so again they were jogging up and down with our 148 boxes and all the furniture. Tim and I helped a lot, up the four steps into the house and then another four internal stairs with the lighter things. It was a great workout!

Ping turned up with cold bottles of water (very grateful for that!) and proceeded to unpack the kitchen for me. As I had expected, she had to keep interrupting me directing the removalists to ask where things should go, and because I hadn't really worked that out myself I later moved everything into different places anyway! Oh well, I was over my irritation about it and just enjoyed having such a lovely family. She also went out and got us all lunch.

In the afternoon I would have liked a nap but we had to go up to Jasmine's school to meet her teacher and get her uniform for Monday, and also picked up some essentials at the shops. Then I got to
collapse! I went to bed early and had the best sleep I'd had for months!

Time to hand over the iPad, looks like I don't have time to read any blogs today. He'll be at school tomorrow, I'll have plenty of time then.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Last day


Today was completely exhausting. I woke at around 2am with my arms really sore, I assume from all the lifting and carrying heavy things up to the skip bin yesterday. I did get some more sleep before dawn, but also did a lot of tossing and turning in that time. My right forearm in particular was quite painful. I got up as soon as it was light.

It was a long day of packing and packing. Every time I thought we were nearly done, we found there was some more things. I think we've got about 140 boxes now. The only break we took was to walk up to the school to our children's last school assembly here in Canberra. Jasmine was playing the trumpet in the school band and Aiden's class was hosting the assembly and he got to speak several times to introduce the next segment. So it was a great ending to their schooling here. And I got to sit down for an hour!

We are mostly done now but there will still be a bit of running around while the removalists are here in the morning. My arms feel ok right now but my legs and feet are so tired and aching. I'm going to have a hot bath before bed to try to ward off some of the pain. I don't know if I'll be able to walk tomorrow, and I need to! Packing doesn't seem like hard work, but I must have done the equivalent of several hundred squats today as I put things into boxes.

See you in Sydney.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015



I've had a couple of good night's sleep lately, but not last night. I was awake from around 3:30am. A combination of things kept me awake. Thinking about all the stuff I had to do (not worrying, just thinking and planning), a bit of that pelvic pain that has never entirely gone away and is more noticeable at night, Tim's heavy breathing as he's an asthmatic. It's left me a bit tired today but not too bad. Hopefully I'll sleep better tonight.

It was a very busy day, our second last day of packing. We ordered a skip bin to be put outside our house - the fourth one in about six months! - and loaded that up with more old furniture, ancient paint tins, and some other rubbish that isn't going to fit in our normal household bin this week. More up and down the driveway carrying heavy things! I was very happy that my knee was fine. Then packing. Then my friend Caroline came over for our last afternoon tea visit. Then more packing.

Tonight I cooked my last dinner in this house, we're here all day tomorrow but I'll be finishing packing the kitchen stuff and also turning off the fridge so we'll go out for dinner.

Time for one more box then I get to collapse in front of the TV.

Sunday, November 1, 2015



Okay, I may or may not have eaten some party leftovers today. We shall gloss over indiscretions. You can't walk off chocolate cheesecake, but I did at least do half an hour walking with Tim. To him, that is not even exercise. I was hot and a bit tired by the end. It was certainly exercise to me.

It was mainly a day of organising, like getting electricity set up to be connected at the new house. Tim had already organised internet, but not unimportant things like water or electricity! He has his priorities.

I'm a bit worried about the weather. We had a big storm last night that battered some areas. It is forecast for rain here on Thursday, and also rain in Sydney on Friday! It will be frustrating if everything gets wet, and removalists have to stomp their soggy boots all over the carpet at both ends. But I'm sure we can manage. And maybe it won't actually rain while we are loading/unloading.