Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Discombobulated

Thursday:

I'm feeling a bit cranky and discombobulated. Bloody tradesmen.

The oven repair guy who couldn't find anything wrong with my oven a couple of weeks ago came back today now that it is completely dead. He was supposed to come "morning" so we sat at home all day, at 2pm I called the company, he turned up at 3. He poked vaguely at the oven and told me it would be cheaper and easier to get a new oven. He barely looked at it. I couldn't stand his cigarette reek, I only got him back because with a new company I'd have to pay the exorbitant callout fee again. I know the oven is old - the whole kitchen is old - I was hoping to not need a new oven for a few years until we'd recovered from paying for the pool, and get the whole kitchen remodelled then. Replace the lino countertops as well as the ancient fixtures. But looks like we'll have to get a new oven now. It's a wall oven, too, so we have to get one that fits that space... very restrictive... Arg!

Oh and the pool - we finally got the side fences raised to the required height. But the site manager came by and looked at them and he's not sure they will pass council safety inspection! Double arg!

And I went to order a skip bin for the weekend only to find they are about twice as expensive here as I remember from Canberra only two years ago. I was so horrified at the price of the place that advertised "cheapest in Sutherland Shire" I said I'd get back to them, tried elsewhere but it was even more expensive. I suppose I'll have to call back. I feel like we're haemorrhaging money.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter

Monday:

We had a nice Easter weekend, family over for dinner yesterday. We managed ok without the oven.

One of our traditions is to create our own little Easter baskets for the egg hunt, usually out of cardboard but this year I bought bags with a bunny silhouette that we then decorated with various craft supplies.

Mine (it had a lot more 'hair' on the back):

Tim's:

Aiden's (that is a moustache drawn on, he tried a pipe-cleaner but it wouldn't stick):
Jasmine's (she spent ages gluing all the sequins onto the dress): 

We had our own Easter egg hunt at home in the morning, but when family came over my cousin-in-law Martha also arranged a hunt in our garden for the four children.
Eliza (Martha's daughter, in pink) isn't allowed much junk food so the hunt was mostly little toys and things like sultanas in plastic egg shapes, plus a few very small chocolate bunnies. The rest of us waited until Eliza was taken home to the babysitter before we got stuck into the chocolate!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Emptying the pool

later Thursday:

Hopefully we are close to getting our pool surfaced, so today Tim hired a pump to empty out all the rainwater. It was about a third full! A bit swampy looking. And very cold.
The pump was a bit tricky actually. It didn't come with any instructions and Tim said the employee he picked it up from was a bit surly. We didn't know -- do you put the pump bit in the water and the hose out, or the hose in the water? It seemed safer to try the second way first, the pump part did have an electrical cable attached so we weren't sure about submerging it. But the hose didn't suck up any water, so we carefully tried it the other way, keeping the electrical cable out of the water, and it happily pumped water out.

We ran the hose directly to a drain behind the house (and checked, it came out in the gutter in front of our house, ran down beside the road and into a stormwater drain) but we couldn't get the grill off to put the hose inside so had to hold it in place for the whole two hours or so. Quite uncomfortable. I found the best way was sitting in a chair and holding the end in place with my feet.


But eventually the water was all out. So much easier and quicker than trying to bucket it out!
Now hopefully it will dry out, and we don't get any more rain for a little while.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Broken oven

Saturday:

My oven seemed to be working ok, a bit hotter than usual maybe, since the repair man came and did nothing. Until this morning, when Tim noticed the oven clock wasn't lit up. So we tried the oven, the grill, checked the powerboard outside, checked other appliances -- just the oven unit (including grill) not working. Completely dead. With Easter dinner for 14 (not including babies) to cook tomorrow and no chance of getting a repair man before then.

My menu included roast lamb with roast vegetables, garlic bread cooked in the oven, roast tomato soup, lemon tart (cooked in the oven)... I went into a bit of a panic. I knew the shops were open today so I could buy all new stuff, but catering for 14 isn't easy with just frying pans. Luckily Tim remembered we have an outdoor BBQ! We only use it a couple of times a year, but tomorrow will be one of those days! It's not one I can do a lamb roast on, unfortunately.

So I'll be off to the shops soon to stock up on meat and a pre-made dessert.

We decided not to go to the Royal Easter Show this year. It started life as an agricultural show but it's huge now; show animals, rides, sideshows, showbags, show jumping, pig races, best fruitcake, best quilt, dress made entirely of rose petals, petting zoo, alpaca wool fashion show, motorbike trick riding, giant robot dinosaur that eats cars, fireworks, more rides, food pavilion with lots of tastings, cooking demonstrations, shearing demonstrations... it's fun but exhausting. I now understand why my mum would only take us every second year - and it was a lot smaller then! Anyway, instead last weekend we went to a little "family show" with my brother-in-law's family, it's in competition with the Easter Show and apparently isn't allowed to use "Easter" in the title after a fight with the big Show; it was tiny and mostly sideshows unfortunately but there was a petting zoo and a Lego exhibition and a little circus so it was an ok day. I'm kind of wavering a bit about still going to the real Show, no one else cares but I still have happy memories of it.

It is school holidays, I took the kids to see Beauty and the Beast last week, it was pretty good. We've been having lots of treats, I think I've put on a kilogram and it's not even Easter yet. The Easter bunny is usually pretty generous in this house!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fence

Thursday:

The pool fence is in!



The oven repairer also came, that was less conclusive. He turned on the oven, horrible burning smell again. He didn't seem to be able to smell it - but he was obviously a heavy smoker and emitted a horrible burning smell himself! He said I must have a very sensitive nose. I was quite annoyed about that - how can he do his job probably? I felt quite ill from the stench (from both sources). He left the oven on very high for a while, it did heat up successfully and the smell stopped after a while (still filled the kitchen, but no new fumes being generated). He thinks it was probably just something spilled on the element (it didn't smell like food burning to me) but it is a very old oven and it could be a loose wire somewhere that will require replacement parts - if he can find them for a 20 year old oven. And to call him if it happens again. I suppose he can't fix what doesn't seem broken but it was frustrating. I guess I will try using the oven and see what happens.

Not tonight though. I'm still feeling quite sick and I think Aiden has come down with it too. I'll grab take-away when I pick up Jasmine from gymnastics. I made her walk there so I didn't have to go out twice but I'll pick her up as it will be dark then.

It's been weird sitting at home doing nothing all day. Felt very purposeless. Computer games are boring when you are just killing time. Nothing on TV. I did manage to have a nap after both tradesmen had gone. I must be really be enjoying my studies if I'm lost when I can't do them! Of course feeling sick doesn't help my mood.

Tim has been away all week, home this evening. I hate when he is away. Be glad when he is home and I can just crawl into bed and sleep.

I haven't told him about the fence being in, they only called on Tuesday to say they could install it this week. I thought it would be a nice surprise. Except it will be dark when he gets home... maybe I'll tell him in the morning.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

End of term

Wednesday:

Today was my last day of term before two weeks holiday, I didn't make it in even though it was one of my favourite classes (website design) because I wasn't feeling well. A bit sick yesterday, rather dreadful today. Hopefully I will get over it soon. I'm not worried about missing the class, the teacher puts extensive notes online and I've been keeping up fine so far with the work.

I've got such a long list of things to do in the holidays! And so far the list doesn't include fun things with the kids. Have to work on that. One thing I need to do is send out my book to some more publishers. I haven't heard back from the two favourites that I sent it to three months ago, I've been so busy with TAFE I haven't done anything else. Time to send it out to more places.

Good news is our pool fence is half up - I wasn't expecting it for 2-3 weeks from when I confirmed colour etc but it only took a week for them to manufacture it. Should be finished tomorrow. I love the colour, design, the fact that it is curved (it is a curvy pool). Still waiting to hear back about the side fences. Why do they have to be 1.8 metres tall when the pool fence only has to be 1.2 metres? It's ok if my child climbs in and drowns but not the neighbour's kid? Not sure of the logic. Our current fences are 1.6, over my head. Anyway, the pool fence being mostly up feels like a big step forward. Temporary fencing will be taken away tomorrow as well.

And the oven repairer is coming tomorrow too.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Last exam

Monday:

I had my last exam for the term today. I think it was fine. I've got results back from two assignments, both "satisfactory" (you only get satisfactory or not satisfactory, but the comments were good).

Pouring rain. Was soaked to the skin getting home, even with an umbrella. I'm supposed to go over and chat to both neighbours about the side fences being raised, but it's pissing down out there! Tomorrow is soon enough. Not that it's likely to not be raining, but maybe it won't be so hard.

My weight this morning was 79.5kg, I continue to bob up and down within half a kg or so. It wasn't exactly a diet-friendly weekend.

On Saturday we went to see Shen Yun - a Chinese dance company, my birthday present to Tim. They were good, but it turns out they are heavily political, supporters of Falun Gong which is a persecuted religious movement in China. Some of the dance routines involved the evil Chinese government beating innocent Falun Gong supporters with sticks. Not included in the advertising for the show!

Before the show we had lunch by the harbour, then went to a Zumbo patisserie. Zumbo is an Australian celebrity chef, specialising in cake and desserts, he was a guest judge on MasterChef and had his own TV show briefly (it flopped). The food was nice, but we wished we didn't get a dessert each - two between the four of us would have been plenty. So much sugar! We brought home the other halves but they didn't survive the journey very well. Mostly ended up with a puddle of sweet goo.

Sunday we had family over for Dungeons and Dragons and dinner. Our oven is broken at the moment and I don't have as many free days as I used to to sit at home all morning and wait for a tradesman, so I used the slow cooker and it really is a lot slower than the oven! Five hours on high was barely enough for the casserole, would have been better with much longer. Hopefully the oven will be fixed this week. It's just the weather for casseroles and roasts.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Full marks

Thursday:

I got another exam result, full marks which will count for 40% of the total for that subject. So that was exciting. I have one more exam on Monday, and I've handed in three assignments but don't have the results back. Four people in that class got full marks and it was the people you'd expect - the ones who studied! I was amazed to learn some students don't even do their homework let alone revision... I thought that as adults everyone was there to get the most out of it but I guess they are doing that in their own non-swotty way. Its all pass/fail in the end - but I want to work in this field so I want to learn as much as possible and master the subjects so I know what I'm doing when I get a job.

I am loving the website I am designing so much I could burst. I am writing snarky little bits of text for it and using all my own photos instead of taking them from creative commons websites. I still have to ask plenty of questions in class - I've never even used photoshop before to shrink a picture. But I ask, and I write down the steps.

There is one subject that is NOT a joy - "Industry Knowledge" where we learn about the legislation that relates to libraries, annual reports, budgets, staff hierarchies and career paths, all that stuff. The career path stuff was ok but the rest is both boring and difficult!

The pool is about a quarter full of water we've had so much rain. Not great as we'll have to pump it out so they can surface it. But that is still weeks away. The permanent fence has to be up first. We've had so much trouble with that. Getting a couple of companies to come out and give quotes; one never called back, one wouldn't do what we needed, one wouldn't lower his high price, back and forth. Finally nailed things down for the pool fence today but got someone coming out about raising the side fences tomorrow. Crossing fingers he will ask a reasonable price. The other drama is the heat pump - the one we paid a 50% deposit on was sold from the warehouse to someone else before it could be delivered to us! Apologies and all that but now it will be 2-3 weeks before they get more in stock. Meanwhile we have pipes full of electrical cables still lying on top of the ground everywhere. One day we'll look back on this whole process and laugh... or just keep telling everyone "If you want a pool, move to a house that already has one!"

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Wedding

Sunday:

We spent the weekend at a beach wedding, my cousin Lara who is the youngest of my generation on my side of the family - she was flowergirl at my wedding! And now all grown up and married. We drove down the coast on Friday evening, arriving about 9:30pm. In the morning the weather was as it had been for weeks - cloudy with intermittent rain. The ocean was beautiful but not something you'd dare swim in.

But this was the view from our cabin! Very friendly resident kangaroos.
We had breakfast at the café by the resort pool, walked along the beach, then lazed in our cabin or on the little balcony. I sat for a long time with a cup of tea just enjoying the sound of the waves and the smell of sea air. We were absolute beach front. The kids had a very short dip in the pool and came back blue with cold.

Back to the same café for lunch (nowhere else to go without driving to the next town), and just as we were finishing it started to rain in earnest. An hour before the outdoor wedding! But luckily the rain stopped just as the bridal party arrived.

So many people in the bridal party! Seven groomsmen, five bridemaids, lots of little flowergirls and a couple of page boys. (They stood in the traditional lines for the wedding, this photo was grouped afterwards, also father of the bride on the left and father of the groom on the right.)

Finally I present to you Mr and Mrs Walker! Lara was/is absolutely stunning. She is probably the most beautiful person I know. Also very smart and super athletic. She has a double degree and plays five different sports competitively. James is a doctor, and has climbed the highest mountain in South America and done seven marathons in seven days across a desert so I guess they are suited. He proposed five weeks after they met.

Me and Tim.

The reception was ok but I don't really have much to talk about with my relatives, they are nice but we just don't have much to say! I enjoyed chatting to a few cousins and seeing my Poppa (he will be 99 this year!) but there is one cousin who I am not fond of (I don't think he realises though!) and he managed to insult me about four times in his "joking" way - like commenting I was "pigging out" as I had a tiny prawn canapé... Anyway, we went back to bed early, after the speeches and a little bit of dancing.

Sunday dawned bright and clear and we actually had a sunny day. We went down the beach and Aiden had a splash in the waves while Jasmine and I took lots of artistic photos.

The kids patting a sleepy baby kangaroo.

We drove back up the coast with a long break at another little town for lunch. It was a good weekend away, we should do it more often!

Oh, and I got back to find I'd received 48/50 for the exam in my more difficult subject, yay! Haven't got any other results yet.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Exams

Wednesday:

It's exam and assessment week! Middle of first semester. I study and do my homework so I'm not too worried, but it's been a bit hectic. I got in two assignments last week, a little early so I could get them out of the way and concentrate on studying for exams. First one yesterday - how long since you've done an exam btw? Only about ten years for me - I've been back to study a few times but often my subjects have assignments you do at home rather than exams. Anyway I knew I would be comfortable with yesterday's and I was. Unless I went into a stress trance and wrote "I am a fish" for every answer without realising it (Rimmer does this in Red Dwarf for his officer exams, he came out thinking he'd done quite well) then I am 100% certain I passed and very confident I did a lot better than just a pass.

Tomorrow morning I have my tricky exam, that I'm not as confident about. I'll pass, but while doing at home-revision I am yet to get every question correct. It's an open-book exam and I should have plenty of time, but there is so much to know that I may still miss things. Definitely my hardest subject, but also one of my favourites! I've been studying tonight but it's time for bed now.

Then next week I may or may not have an exam on Monday - we were supposed to but our teacher was away this week and the substitute said we would do revision next week and the exam the week after. Also an oral quiz in a one-on-one with a teacher (we've practiced twice and she said I was fine and she would have passed me on the practice performance). And then we're handing in the first part of our website design assignment next week too, which I've done most of.

Phew!

Speaking of the website design class, there was one woman who missed week 3, so that on week 4 she didn't know what was going on and needed a lot of help. The teacher said she should have attempted the work at home to keep up. Then she missed week 5 and 6. Again not attempting the work (she was sick, so it's understandable), turned up today week 7, we're working on our assessment task and she is so far behind. She asked a few questions at first but then sat quietly and didn't do much. Horrible position to be in. I hope she can catch up, all the lessons are online. But learning computer code can seem quite daunting and it's so much better if you're there for the teacher to explain it.

When we've finished our two-page mock website (for a non-existent library) at the end of semester we'll be putting it live online so we can do analytics on how real people navigate around it - I'll give you the link to have a look! I am really enjoying this class which surprised me a lot, I wish all my classes were so much fun. Pearl Cove library website coming soon.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A week

Monday:

Goodness me, has a whole week gone by?

Weight 79.4kg, up a bit again. Still losing and regaining that one kilogram.

It is the middle of the semester so I have exams and assignments due. Very busy. Having a little trouble with shoulder pain. Tricky to balance getting all my studying done with taking lots of breaks from the computer. I expect to pass everything, but I'd like to do a lot better than a pass.

Also three birthdays (husband, sister-in-law and niece) and a wedding so I've been shopping and hosting and going to parties with more over the next week. I spent all day last Thursday present and clothes shopping, I needed something to wear to the wedding and everything I tried on looked awful. Went again on Saturday with Jasmine and found us both dresses which was a relief. Jasmine keeps growing out of her clothes, she is delighted that she is within a whisker of my height now. Not that that is so very tall! She probably weighs half as much as me. She does seven hours a week of after-school sport!

After a superheated summer we've gone into autumn with a month of almost continuous rain. It's cooler, but so humid. You start to wonder where all that water is coming from, don't the clouds run out eventually?

Time to head off to the city again. I will use the train ride to study!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Another Monday

Monday:

I seem to be out of whatever funk I've been in. Maybe it's the study pressure - next week is mid-semester assignment/exam time!

Also it's Tim's birthday in a week and I haven't done any present shopping yet. Also my niece and sister-in-law. Arg!

And trying to get the pool finished just drags on...

My weight this morning was 78.8kg. I haven't recorded it for a while but I think it's been 79.9 the past couple of Mondays? So it was a nice loss, back down to my "lowest weight". I keep losing that kilogram then finding again (I think it hides with the cheese and crackers).

It was warm and sunny earlier today but now grey and stifling, like we're under a big sweaty blanket. Big storm forecast. I wonder if we'll get hail. I hope it holds off until Jasmine is safe home from dance class. I don't fancy driving through a hailstorm. Apart from today we've mostly turned to cooler autumn weather.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Adele

Sunday:

Tim and I went to see Adele last night. She has an amazing voice, sounds just as good live as on CD. I didn't know her newer stuff as well, I asked for (and was given) the CD for Christmas but it's still somewhere unopened, I can't find it. I was able to sing along with the "21" songs.

We were about 2/3 of the way back, very steep huge stadium (95,000 people), I felt like I was sitting on the edge of a cliff which was not great for my fear of heights! There was a great moment when Adele asked everyone to turn on their phone flashlight, it went from dark to a stadium of stars! I can't seem to download my photos today, which is annoying. But she is just a tiny speck in the distance anyway.

They run special buses to events at the stadium and one runs practically past our front door. Took about an hour to get in, but two hours to get home. Long long queues to get on the bus because obviously everyone is leaving at the same time. A lot of people catch the train or drive, but even if less than a quarter catch the bus that is still 20,000 people! Then shortly after our bus left the stadium we got stuck in one spot in traffic for literally about half an hour. We'd roll forward a few metres, stop for another 5-10 minutes, roll forward another two metres. Maybe an accident ahead? We got home around midnight and let grandad (babysitter) go home. Apparently he and the kids were up watching movies until after 11pm!

I had one really bad moment that stained my whole evening. Since talking to the doctor about arthritis I've been eating better and had already re-lost that kilogram I keep losing and regaining, I was dressed nicely and had makeup on and thought I looked ok. We were sitting waiting for Adele to come on and Tim took a photo of us with the reverse camera on the screen so I could see myself. Is that really what I look like? I often get that shock when I see photos after an event, but I don't usually have to see them at the moment they are taken. I looked so awful. My mirror at home is so much kinder. Fat shiny red face, deep grooves from nose to mouth so my saggy cheeks make me look like a bloodhound, no lips. I felt so incredibly ugly and fat. I went from enjoying singing along to the warm-up music they were playing to miserable and quiet. I tried to focus on the music when Adele came on but that image kept coming back to me. It's not even the "fat" that bothers me, you can be overweight and still attractive, it's the "ugly". I don't know if I've ever felt less attractive in my whole life.

On the positive side it stopped me eating any of the unhealthy snacks we'd brought along.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Arthritis

Thursday:

I went to the doctor this morning about my ongoing pelvic pain. I really need to change the medical clinic I go to. Mine (a tiny place but it is free and I have no trouble getting an appointment quickly)has one regular male doctor (who I haven't seen, but my husband didn't like that much) and a different female doctor every six months - part of their work experience straight after their training. I've liked all the female doctors well enough and don't mind that they are quite inexperienced - at least they are up to date! But a new one just about every time I go gives no continuity of care. There, that is decided. In Australia you can go to whatever doctor you like, there are plenty of others nearby to chose from. We started going to that one because it is walking distance.

One part of my pelvic pain that seems affected by the time of the month needs to be followed up with my gynaecologist so that wasn't today. But I've realised that part of my pain is in a close but different place, pain and stiffness in my hipbones especially first thing in the morning and after I've been sitting for a while. The doctor examined me and thinks it might be arthritis. I need more tests. I do have a CT scan from last year that mentions arthritis "with no inflammatory component" whatever that means. She wants to do an X-ray.

She said the best treatment for arthritis is weight loss, and made a longer appointment for me to go back next week to discuss diet and exercise etc. I found it quite depressing. I'm 46, I'm not ready for arthritis. And maybe all the pain in my hands is from it too. And a lecture on diet and exercise? Like I don't already know what to do (just don't do it). I've probably read more about diet and nutrition than any five doctors put together. I've been trying to lose weight for the past 20 years. Since I plan to change doctors anyway I think I will cancel. What can she tell me other than the official government recommendations? Give me a will-power machine and I'll use it.

She measured my height at 152.5cm which is 1.5cm less than my previous doctor said (5ft instead of 5ft and half an inch) then weighed me in jeans and a belt even though I weighed myself in underwear at home this morning (adding a couple of kg) and worst of all took a waist measurement that was nothing like the number I've got at home! I think she said 105cm instead of 98! That is a big difference. Maybe she measured in a different place than I do. I'd given up politely disagreeing by that point. Why bother. I know I'm fat, what does a few cm matter.

Fail day

Wednesday:

I had a bit of a fail day today. After a 90 minute commute to the city for my one and only Wednesday class (I never managed to get before-school care for Aiden, so I couldn't do the early class), I found out the teacher was sick! The lesson was on the online resource (which I could have accessed at home) so we all sat quietly and worked through it. The guy I sit next to, Tim, is very good at the website-building stuff so I asked him when I had a problem. It took me (and Tim) 45 minutes to go through the lesson and apply the new stuff to the website we're working on. Then that was it for the day - another 90 minute commute home. Oh well, at least I had time for a real lunch for a change. I went to a Thai restaurant. That was funny, I nearly complained/queried because I ordered a dish with cashews and there were clearly no cashews in it... but I didn't say anything and in the end I did find cashews - three of them! Easy to miss. But I enjoyed it anyway.

The other fail was dinner tonight. I tried making Rogan Josh, an Indian curry, but the lamb was tough and the kids and I didn't like the flavour at all. Tim (husband not classmate) ate it but the kids and I didn't. I made some pasta (gluten-free, Jasmine isn't eating wheat) for the kids but only had half a packet so not really enough for me. I shop tomorrow, the cupboards were a bit bare. I ended up making myself two minute noodles! I felt a bit tired and hungry and cranky, I hate when I spend so much time on a new dish and it isn't nice.

Nothing so very terrible. But not a great day.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Peter Rabbit

Monday:

I was walking through the Grand Concourse of Central (Sydney train station) this morning and found a large part cordoned off with signs up that they were filming a movie "Peter Rabbit" and by walking through the area we gave permission to be in the background in the movie! Pretty sure they weren't filming while I walked through - but I was wearing denim shorts and a pink and white striped top, purple backpack, blonde hair in a ponytail, short plump middle-aged woman, just in case! I looked it up later and it's a real big-budget movie with Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) and Margot Robbie. Huge camera and lighting setup the size of a house and a tiny white bunny on a stick in the middle of it all - they use that so the actors know where to look and add the CGI later. Didn't see anyone famous and I was told to move along when I paused to take a photo. Lots of catering trucks outside. I'm imagining something like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Last night we had various family members over for dinner as usual, Martha was looking for something to give her toddler as a little plate and ended up with my Royal Albert saucer! We have all this ordinary crockery and she picks the one expensive thing in the kitchen that I would hate to have broken, and she must have pulled it out from under the delicate porcelain teacup. Of course I said nothing (I should have, nicely of course), I just watched it like a hawk and prayed. I got it back, unbroken. Next time I'll hide it!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Glasses

Friday:

I took Jasmine to get an eye test today because she's been getting tired eyes at school and is finding the board a bit blurry. It turns out she does need glasses, so she picked out frames and we've ordered them. I remember when I found I needed glasses, a couple of years younger than Jasmine, I was very stressed at first (thinking I was going blind!) but once I got them I was amazed at how clear the world was. Trees with individual leaves not just a clump of green! Do you mean everyone else could read the board all along? I'd had no idea there was anything wrong with my sight, I thought it was normal. Jasmine's is less dramatic I think. And she doesn't seem bothered by needing glasses, several of her friends wear glasses in class.

I ended up getting LASIK surgery in my twenties and that lasted 20 years, I've only started needing glasses again recently.

I've been a bit unwell all week, two different things. Firstly bad headaches like a clamp on my temples, my left eyebrow is very sore to touch which makes me think it's a sinus problem (the tubes run just under there) and today my neck and shoulders ached and my legs were weak and I was so tired. Luckily it was an at-home day and I even got an afternoon nap.

The other thing, well that operation I had last November did "fix" my periods in that they are no longer so heavy and go for weeks. So that is good. But I still get other symptoms around that time of the month, as bad as ever. PMS that left me miserable and grumpy so that the safest thing was just to sit in a corner and not speak to anyone in case I said something I would regret or burst into tears. Pelvic pain (it comes and goes, seems worse at that time of the month but never completely gone, not helped by the operation unfortunately) teamed with backache.

But once the PMS misery was over I've felt quite happy this week.

On Wednesday I had an unfortunate day with the trains. In the morning I caught an express which was good except it went to an unfamiliar end of the city station (huge station with at least 26 platforms, some underground) and in trying to get to my exit I found myself emerging way over on the wrong side. That added a lot of walking to get back (and I wasn't feeling well). Then in the afternoon coming home I was trying to get on my train with a crowd of people (but the train wasn't full or anything) and they closed the doors in my face! I stood there with my hands on the doors saying "Hey!!" in disbelief. I looked down the platform and the employee with the whistle signalled them to open the doors again and let me in. I felt quite rejected! But at least they did let me on.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Risk factors

Tuesday:

I just read that Bob Harper, the trainer/host from America's Biggest Loser, had a serious heart attack at the gym and was saved by a doctor there but unconscious for two days. He is now limiting his exercise to walking. It is scary how someone so fit their entire life, as far as I know doing all the right things, can still have a life-threatening health event out of the blue. He is 51 years old.

It made me think of my mum and her sister. My mum was unhealthy all her life: overweight, asthma, sinus issues, allergies. Her sister was slim and fit with no apparent health issues. But they both died of cancer within two months of each other. My mum was 73. Aunty Bev was 66.

It doesn't mean we can give up trying to improve our health but... we are not in complete control. Not at all. We can only minimise risks, not eliminate them.

My dad and both my grandmothers also died of various forms of cancer. I guess that's how I'll be going, when I go. No better or worse than most other ways, I figure.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lost

Sunday:

Last night we went to my cousin David's engagement party. It was held at a surf club on the beach at Narrabeen, which is one of Sydney's Northern beaches. We live in the south of the city. I think we've been north three times since we moved back to Sydney, and every time we have got lost on the way home.

This time the problems started when trying to get over the Sydney Harbour Bridge/ through the Harbour Tunnel. The thing is once you get onto the approach, you can't change lanes. There are big barriers between them. So by the time you realise you are in the wrong lane and, for instance, going over the Bridge into the heart of the city instead of into the Tunnel to go to the Southern suburbs, it's too late.

We thought we could deal with that, we don't generally drive in the city but we've walked around it and we just had to follow the GPS right? Yeah, except roadworks had closed off a lot of roads, and our GPS kept telling us to turn around and go down roads we couldn't go down. We eventually managed to work our way south a bit, away from the roadworks, to where we could join the Tunnel. But we couldn't find the entrance in the dark with Saturday night partygoers crowding over the roads and slow GPS and one-way streets, and we went round and round in circles until we finally found our way underground. The whole thing was so stressful! I think we were lost in the city for about an hour. Poor Tim was driving, I certainly don't blame him, I got lost last time I was driving too.

Aside from that we had a nice time at the party. I got to chat with my mum's side of the family who I don't see very often. It didn't have a sit-down dinner but caterers kept circulating with fresh pizza and there was also a lolly table which the kids loved! A lollipop tree, jars of marshmallows and chocolate and lollies, and lovely Ferraro Rocher chocolates.

I had two worries. Firstly my grandfather "Poppa" wasn't there, he is 98 and still lives in his own home and is doing fantastically well for his age but I guess events like this are getting a bit much for him. And secondly my Aunty Mandy. I suppose she is in her 60s but could pass for a fit attractive 40. Slender and always elegantly dressed. I didn't notice anything amiss at first but then a cousin mentioned that Mandy seemed "grumpy" tonight. Then Tim said he thought she was very pale, and indeed she was, a sort of unhealthy white like candle wax under her makeup. Pale and acting a bit unlike herself could both be attributed to some transient illness, no reason to think it was something serious. But then I realised her clothes were wrong.

Normally she wears lovely dresses that show off her figure. But last night at her son's engagement party she was wearing a sack with a belt. Almost shapeless, with arms and legs completely covered. Like someone hiding a dramatic change of shape. I remember my mother getting all puffy when she got cancer, and now I'm really worried. It was her son's party so there's no way she would have spoiled it talking about her health, and I don't like to ask. But I'm worried.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Part time

Thursday:

So this is my third week of studying full time and I have been finding it too much - both in terms of time and because of my RSI. My hands were starting to ache a lot of the time. So I've emailed the head teacher about changing to part time. I want to do six subjects per semester instead of nine, which means I can finish in 18 months instead of one year. I want to keep all the classes I do face-to-face and drop three of the ones I do at home. I haven't received a reply yet so she could have different ideas about which subjects I need to do first and which to postpone, but overall I don't foresee a problem from the TAFE end. It's a big relief not having to worry about taking the time to do the grocery shopping or put on a load of laundry! And I'm sure it will help with the RSI pain.

My undergraduate days were spent at Sydney University which is a beautiful campus, the institution I am at now is so ugly! I'm guessing WW2-era buildings, like a row of dominos on their sides with narrow alleys in between. Here, I took a picture outside my building:

We are one step closer to getting our pool (pity we've got one week left of summer, no chance!). All the decorative rock around the edge is finished. That is a little cave at the far end, the light grey strip under it is a ledge so you can sit inside the cave.
We plan to do lots of planting all around the pool and behind the cave so it looks like a tropical oasis, we'll do that part ourselves and it's not intrinsic to use of the pool so isn't urgent. As far as I'm aware there are three things to get done before we get to use the pool:
1) Electrician to run electricity from the house for the filter or pump or whatever
2) Pebblecrete applied to inside of the pool over the concrete for decorative/essential surface
3) Permanent pool fencing, including raising our side fences as they are not the required 1.8m (you can see in that photo the back fence is higher than the side which doesn't meet regulations.

We have to organise 1) and 3) ourselves. The electrician has been out once, I'd better call him again today and get him out here.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Extra family

Sunday:

Another busy week over. This time I didn't get all my TAFE work done during the week, I had to do some on Saturday morning. Partly because there was more to do now we're out of intro week, but also because I'm having to be very careful with my RSI and take lots of breaks. I was getting some twinges in my arms and hands which worried me so early in the school year, but taking a long break every half hour (moving around, doing some housework etc) has it under control. This is the first time I've been on the computer for leisure all week.

If I want to do any fiction writing, if I can find the time, I think I'll have to set up my old DragonDictate. It is pretty cumbersome for anything else but ok for straight dictation. Just try to imagine, though, if you had to get the mouse to a particular spot on the screen without touching the mousepad or keys. You tell it to navigate and it puts a grid of nine squares on the screen - you tell it which square the target is in. Then you can divide that square into a further nine squares to narrow it down further and so on, until the cursor is over your target and you can tell it to double click! You can see why I don't use it for regular computer use. Of course my software is ten years old, it could have improved since then.

We had some extra family over for lunch, the couple who were the victims of a surprise party a few weeks ago. They hadn't seen our new house yet. Lunch for fourteen is pretty standard these days, but I got a bit stressed when they called not long before expected arrival time to say they would be an hour late! I had to work out how to hold back a half-cooked lunch so it would be neither overlooked nor cold, and meantime find something to keep at bay the hunger of the other guests. It all went well in the end.

Tim's aunt Jan is one of those people who seems lovely but has no idea how inappropriate some of the things they say are - talking about how much they liked someone's former partner (to the new partner), how someone's parents always disapproved of her marriage choice because she married beneath her social station (um, he's right there). Oh and some judgements about Ukrainians, although to be fair she didn't know that's where my Nana was from. Yet she's not nasty at all, just oblivious. Family is fun.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

html

Wednesday:

My eye wasn't sore today so I risked mascara, bad idea! My eyes watered constantly on the train ride, so I ended up with panda eyes that I had to repair when I got to the city.

I have an early morning class on Wednesday, Tim has gone to work late to get Aiden to school (he goes an hour later than Jas). I've had Aiden's name on a waiting list for before-school care but no luck yet. Anyway, today there were 18 people in a 16-computer classroom and the teacher asked if there was anyone who wanted to do the subject online instead... it seemed like a good time to switch. I'm doing half my classes online anyway. And we're only in week two, still easy to make the adjustment. So I stayed the rest of the lesson but have organised the swap.

BTW, the lady I found so annoying (because she made constant "listening" noises for two and a half hours) was there today but didn't make a sound that I heard. I checked behind me a couple of times to make sure she was in the room!

My other class today was the one I was least sure about - about websites. But who knew HTML coding was so easy? Very logical and straightforward (so far). I really enjoyed it. The lady next to me had no idea what was going on, I was able to help her a lot (although I grumble a lot here, I am actually a very nice and helpful person).

Since I complain about bad weather, I will mention that today was lovely, cloudy in the morning but then warm and sunny without being too hot.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Soggy

Tuesday:

I spent the day with soggy feet. There is a famous poem about Australia as the land "of droughts and flooding rains" and today was the flooding rains bit! Very wet shoes and socks getting to class this morning. I managed to mostly protect my books, only got soggy in one corner.

This week the students are getting to know each other better, everyone seems very friendly. Quite different to when I tried going back to Uni a couple of years ago and I felt very lonely and out of place amongst all the 18-year-olds. I have five different teachers in five different classrooms, people sit in different positions next to different people for each class, but it seems we've decided on our set places for each class. In one class I sit next to Mark at the back, he's the one with dreadlocked hair, he has a 26 year-old-daughter with her own kids so he is a grandad! In another class I sit with Cathy near the middle, she's the one who already looks like a librarian, she is really lovely. In yet another I sit right up the front with Marlen. We don't talk so much. I think she always sits right up the front. Model of German efficiency.

The older Italian lady I expected to drop out because she can't use computers was still there today. Maria asks a lot of questions, which is not a bad thing at all, but she is very disruptive in another way. She was sitting near the back and couldn't see the projector screen, so kept getting up and walking halfway to the front and standing in the aisle. Two different people offered their seats but she wouldn't. The teacher got her to sit right up the front at the side but she couldn't see from there either. She kept going back and forth, saying she didn't want to be a bother but not seeming to realise she was much more of a distraction than if she'd just accepted a swap. She was trying to take notes which is difficult while standing so she ended up kneeling at the teachers desk, was offered a chair there which she refused but eventually she did roll a chair over. It was this ongoing two hour saga.

Im finding the content easy so far but there is already a lot of work to keep up with. Plenty of homework. I'm doing my reading on the train.

Yesterday afternoon my right eye got sore and bloodshot, I must have scratched it or something. It got worse in the evening and a night of rest didn't completely heal it, I couldn't wear any eye makeup today. Hope it's better tomorrow.

Happy Valentines Day!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Concrete

Sunday:

The cement truck has been back several mornings in a row (6am) pumping concrete up to our backyard.

We now have stairs...

And the slab for the paved area beside the pool, and the rock feature edging...
Obviously none of this is finished! Nothing is anywhere near finished. Sigh. But at least it's a bit further along than just a hole in the ground.

Only other news around here is the heatwave. Over 40C several days in a row. I stay inside as much as possible, but still feel ill from the heat and humidity. Hard to sleep. We're supposed to have a few cooler days now before it heats up again.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Classmates

Saturday:

Let me tell you about some of my classmates. I made a real effort to memorise their names (about fifteen in my first class, then a few extras in later classes). Obviously I don't know them well yet after one week (in some cases one two-hour lesson) but some people stand out.

Mark wears grungy clothes and has long black dreadlocks pulled into a messy bun. He mentioned he lives inner city nearby. He dresses like boys I went to university with the first time, in their late teens or early 20s, but mentioned he went to uni in the 90s so can't be much younger than me. It's like he's stuck in a time warp. The most interesting thing about him is that when we were all introducing ourselves to the group, he completely glossed over what he'd been doing between that time at university twenty years ago, and now. No mention of jobs, family, or anything else. So what has he been doing with himself? Intriguing.

Maria is the opposite of secretive. She's only in one of my classes. Probably the oldest, a middle-aged Italian lady. Her self-introduction was at least four times as long as every else, she rambled on and on while the teacher got uncomfortable and politely tried to get her to finish up. That wasn't so much of a problem but her lack of computer skills was. At the information session I went to in January, they told us a certain level of computer skills was assumed and if we didn't have that, or if we hadn't worked/studied for a long time, we should probably do the more basic Cert III rather than the Diploma. I don't think Maria got that memo. I could believe she'd never used a computer in her life. She required so much help from the teacher and other students at every stage. We use the computers a lot. I felt sorry for her. I think she's been a housewife and mother all her life so the whole thing will be a huge challenge. Actually I expect her to drop out within a couple of weeks. But maybe she'll surprise me.

Kathy looks more like a librarian than a real librarian. Actually she is a music teacher. Youngish with a serene face, slender, glasses, a blouse with a flat lace collar. I can imagine her looking almost exactly the same when she is 80, a permanent fixture in her little library.

There is only one person I took a dislike to, she was only in one of my classes and that class didn't do an introduction so I don't know her name. You know how some people make "listening" noises during a conversation: mmm, yes, u-huh. She did this constantly while listening to the teacher lecturing. And by constantly I mean literally every few seconds. She was sitting right behind me and there was this stream of distracting noise. She'd finish the teacher's sentences! Repeat phrases. All at a conversational volume, not a quiet murmur. Did she think it was polite, to show she was listening? Not appropriate in this setting! The rest of us were sitting silently, showing our attention by staring at the teacher (now I wonder if staring would be inappropriate in some cultures?) and asking the occasional question or answering one. This lady was Australian so cultural difference wasn't the problem. It was a very technical class which I expect to be my favourite subject so I found it very frustrating. I gave her a few disapproving puzzled frowns over my shoulder which had no effect. She was extremely morbidly obese, I wasn't going to mention that because it wasn't relevant, but I mentioned what other people looked like so is that a kind of prejudice to avoid saying it? And maybe it is relevant, I've read blogs of very overweight people who have mentioned that a lack of self-esteem can make them over-eager to please so that could be having an effect. If so, it's backfiring. I can't believe it's only me that finds it so annoying.

Sarah is English and looks so much like someone I know (Amy, also English) that I want to discreetly find out if they are cousins or something. But it's probably just a racial type of large-boned blonde.

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Back to study

Thursday:

I returned to study on Monday, so I've suddenly gone from full-time mum (doing a bit of writing) to full-time student + mum. I'm finding it a bit hectic!

My campus is in the city, and the times of day I go and return mean I have to park a long way from the train station and never get an express - more like "all stops to the city", so it takes me about an hour and a half commute door to door (so three hours a day travel total). The walk from car to station and station to campus means I'm getting nearly 10,000 exercise steps on the three days I go in, so that is an up-side to the travel! And I read on the train.

I'm doing five subjects face-to-face, whichever ones were being held within my kids' school hours, and four subjects at home online (plus homework of course). I've done a bit of each so far and enjoyed it all. My classes are mostly all the same people (about fifteen of us) with a bit of variation as some like me don't go to every class, or go to a different class at a time that suits them better. Mostly women, mostly aged in 30s or 40s with a previous career and maybe child-rearing behind them. I'm pretty standard for the group though at the older end of the spectrum.

Obviously with the full-time workload something's got to give. I still collapse in front of the TV for my favourite shows in the evening but no computer games for me, a lot less playing with my phone or iPad, and I haven't done any writing. Not sure when I'm going to fit that in. So far I've been too tired after dinner for any study or creative work. I have done some study with the kids home in the afternoon, I told them I was going to work for an hour so they'd need to entertain themselves, so five seconds later they were chatting to me and showing me a new YouTube video or something. In any case, most afternoons I am driving them back and forth to dance lessons, gymnastics, youth group, dentist appointments etc. I'll be doing as much study as possible within school hours on the days I don't go in to campus.

I get half an hour lunch break on one of my campus days and none at all on the others so it's a matter of inhaling an apple or piece of cheese when we're given a bathroom break. My sister-in-law was saying I'd be able to go out and have lunch at Chinatown - ha! I barely get to leave the building. I take a series of healthy snacks to scoff between classes or on the train.

Sorry I'm going to complain about the heat again, Monday was ridiculously hot and my official student card photo looks like a sweaty tomato with glasses. Tuesday we had storms and heavy rain so that the tunnels under the city were running with water and I was wading through puddles in wet shoes (I still prefer that to the heat) then a couple of bearable days (31 today) but from tomorrow it's going up over 40 degrees for three days. I'll be staying home inside as much as possible; but I worry about Aiden playing tennis outside in that kind of heat, or going to my sister-in-law's for dinner when her parents disapprove of using the air conditioner.

We've had some progress with the pool and more work over the next few days, I'll post photos after this stage is done. Not everyone comes when they say they will, common complaint about tradesman I know. Our poor front and side lawn were just starting to recover a bit from the previous depredations, now they have been completely destroyed again by more heavy machinery driving over it during the wet stormy day. We don't have grass, we have mud with tyre tracks in it. Drying into interesting ridges and holes full of weeds. Well we can't worry about that bit now, we'll fix it when the backyard is all done.

I am really enjoying the study and I don't mind being busy, it gives me purpose in life.

Oh, and I forgot to mention on Monday, I lost 1.3 kg last week after getting back on the diet healthy way of life wagon.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Too hot

Sunday:

Last night we went to a 40th wedding anniversary surprise party, Tims aunt and uncle in the side we don't see as often. It was at a restaurant nearly an hour from here, further inland so even hotter than here near the coast. Unfortunately if the restaurant had air conditioning it wasn't working very well! Even my father in law who doesn't usually complain about stuff like that commented on the heat. We've just had our hottest January on record, and February will be just as bad.

Apart from the heat, the other problem was the food. Quite nice, but not exactly diet friendly! I couldn't ask for anything special for me, they were busy catering for our group of fifty or so plus a wedding reception in the other room. So I had an Arrancini ball which is deep fried rice, some crumbed and fried calamari, some deep fried something else maybe potato, and some salad. At least the salad wasn't deep fried carbs! I also had four glasses of water.

Aside from these petty issues it was nice. I was sitting opposite Tims cousin and her husband, we went to their wedding about eighteen months ago and she was now clearly pregnant. Lovely couple. Good chat. And other family I knew were there as well. We left straight after the speeches, which I couldn't hear from behind everyone else. But the couple were certainly surprised! They thought they were just going out to dinner and walked into a room full of people they knew, all staring at them.

Sorry to go on about the heat so much, but it saps all my energy and I have trouble sleeping so I have to complain to someone!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Organising

Wednesday:

I've two days child-free (within school hours anyway) and I've got so much done! Or maybe it's because I'm feeling better. It's not like the kids need constant care and attention when they are here. But I've done heaps of stuff, organising mainly, we have a few things coming up, plus of course the pool.

The pool has hardly changed in months. A concrete hole in the ground.
At least this week we've had tiles put down on top edge (under the plastic) and some plumbing done.

My TAFE course is all organised. I'm itching to get started. When I saw the head teacher last week I asked if there was anything I could read to prepare, she told me just to relax and enjoy my child-free week before starting full-time study. Has she never met an eager mature-aged student before? But it turns out I have been using the time well on other things. I even tidied my desk - although my in-tray is still overflowing. Well, I've got two more days.

I'm back on my blood sugar diet and feeling well. A bit hungry, but I know that will pass as I get used to reduced calories.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Stomach flu

Monday:

My upset tummy got worse rather than better over the weekend. Random stabbing pains. Fatigue. Sore throat. Mild nausea but also abdominal discomfort. Some... unpleasantness.

My Chinese sister-in-law hosted a Chinese New Year dinner on Sunday night but I didn't go. I really was not feeling well. And with three babies (and plenty of adults!) in the family I didn't want to pass this on.

My cricket team lost the final on Saturday night. By a big margin. 😢

Today Tim was back at work and Aiden back at school, Jasmine starts tomorrow so I had the day with her. It was her actual birthday, she'd already had her party. She wanted to see the movie Passengers but we couldn't because the only session time would have meant we weren't home when Aiden got home from school. Instead we did a bit of shopping for school stuff then went to the Lindt chocolate café for a treat. I was still recovering from my stomach flu which is now more like normal flu (runny nose etc) so wasn't up to doing any more than that. We'll watch the final Twilight movie at home tonight - even though my favourite TV show is starting! (My Kitchen Rules - reality cooking show.) I'll catch up on that tomorrow.

Jasmine requested lasagne for dinner (we use zucchini instead of pasta for the girls' half, Jas is now gluten-free and I'm trying to reduce carbs), I wasn't really feeling up to cooking something that complex tonight but I managed it with only one major mistake and one dropped/smashed bowl from our new set.😢 again. It's in the oven now - I hope it turns out ok!

Tomorrow it will be just me at home, a bit of a change after six weeks of holidays! I've got the rest of the week to get some stuff organised before my course starts next Monday, like finding some publishers to send my book off to. I've done nothing with that over the summer holidays. Actually I have a long list of things to do - don't we all! But I'll be taking it easy if I still don't feel well (and watch my TV show!).

Friday, January 27, 2017

Giggles

Friday:

I went into the city this morning to meet with the head teacher of my TAFE course and worked out my timetable, looks like I'll go in three days a week, be home in time for the kids after school, and do the rest online. I have one early morning where I'll put Aiden into before-school care, his school starts pretty late. Seems like it will work out well.

Silly episode while there; I went to the TAFE library and asked about getting a library card. They said I just use my TAFE ID card and told me where to get it. I went to that office, was about to press the button marked "TAFE card" to get a ticket in the queue when a helper came over and asked what I was there for. Told her I needed a TAFE card. She pressed the "TAFE card" button for me and gave me the ticket. A few minutes later I was called to the desk. "I'm starting here this year and need a TAFE card please." "Oh, we don't do TAFE cards here, you need to go to building G." !!!! I decided to leave that run-around for another day.

What I thought was car sickness on Wednesday has persisted so it obviously isn't just motion sickness - but travel definitely makes me feel worse. I didn't have any breakfast this morning to be safe, still felt quite nauseated in the train. Not really sick, just a bit queasy a lot of the time. Real food seems ok, junk food makes it worse.

It was Australia Day yesterday, we didn't do anything much. We were supposed to get together with some other family members in a park where they had some activities going on; I was feeling queasy and stayed home while Tim took the kids, and no one else we knew showed up. We just had a movie night at home.

BTW my cricket team did get through to the final which is tomorrow night. It was a very exciting semi-final - ended in a draw so they had to go to a "super over" which we won.

Today/tonight Jasmine is having her birthday party. She didn't want any activities, just picked out some snack foods. A group of girls spent three hours locked in her room giggling. Then half of them went home and we were left with a handful to stay overnight. I made tacos for dinner and we sat down together. None of the girls - even Jasmine! - would speak, if asked a question they would just look at each other and giggle. I can understand the other girls being shy but why Jasmine? They didn't eat much, probably because of afternoon snacks, and it was all a bit awkward. Was I like that when I was thirteen? We're putting a bunch of mattresses and blow-up beds in the lounge, they can watch TV late and do some more giggling I guess. As long as they have fun.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bunnies on the beach

Wednesday:

Our pool site foreman came this morning and we discussed various things, then we (we the family, not including Angelo the foreman) went off to chose the coping tiles. These are the tiles that are laid around the top of the pool edge. Not included in the contract price of course (although the laying is). We were sent to one particular company, I for one was happy to just go with their suggestion rather than visiting every tile showroom in Sydney. We picked some nice tiles, decided we'd be able to fit them in the car boot (trunk), got directions to the warehouse, missed the turn-off and got lost, found it with the help of the GPS. The tiles did indeed fit in the boot but the car certainly felt the weight! Scraped on the gutter on the way into our driveway later, never done that before. A workman has been here the past two days preparing the pool for the coping so hopefully they and the decorative rock bit can be done soon.

Then we went to the beach to have fish and chips with Tim's cousin and family. It was a cool cloudy day (lovely!), not one for swimming. The popular Cronulla beach was being set up for Australia Day celebrations tomorrow with a huge stage for live music, and rather oddly a cluster of giant inflatable white rabbits.

We had a very short walk before lunch, I was feeling extremely car sick for some reason and just wanted to sit and breathe the fresh sea air. I felt better after a while, especially after some fizzy soft drink which was always my mother's cure for nausea. Maybe because it makes you burp? We had lunch and a chat then we headed to a big shopping centre on the way home, Jasmine and I sat and had a cup of tea/iced chocolate while Tim and Aiden looked for birthday presents for Jasmine who unbelievably turns 13 next Monday. I can't have a teenage child! I'm too young!

I've been avidly watching 20/20 cricket for the past couple of months. Traditional cricket takes five whole days of play, but in the 1970s "one day" cricket (50 overs a side) became popular. A few years ago they brought in an even more restricted version of the game, 20 overs a side so it takes about three hours in total. It is much faster-paced and very exciting. There is an Australian competition called Big Bash, city vs city in a round robin that has been on almost every night, and my team is in tonight's semi-final. Hopefully they will make it through to the grand final on Saturday night! Go Sydney Sixers! (A six is hitting the ball over the fence for a score of six runs.) My women's team had their semi-final this afternoon and made it through to their final so who knows, maybe we'll get both trophies!


I'd rather study than work

Tuesday:

Yet again I missed my book club due to having to talk to a pool tradesman. He was scheduled to come later, but rang to change the time. Tim was here but it's really best if we both talk to them. Book club is only an hour once a month, for goodness sake! I've missed so many, and at least three times due to the pool. Time to drop out of the group, I think, likely my TAFE course will interfere too. I hate being so unreliable.

I realised I won't be able to get to the general orientation meeting next week for my TAFE course so I've arranged to go in on Friday to sort out my timetable. I'm really looking forward to getting started! I love study, as you can probably tell by my frequent return to it. After high school I did a BA(Linguistics), worked for ten years, did a Cert II Horticulture course, had children, did a Grad Cert in Professional Writing and Editing, freelanced for a while, started a Bachelor of Nutrition but found it too lonely with all the teenagers, wrote a book, and now doing a Diploma of Library and Information Studies. I'd rather learn than work any day!



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Spelunking

Sunday:

On Thursday we went on an adventure to the Jenolan caves. Tim and I had both been there before as children. They were a bit further away than we thought, a full three hours drive. We bought tickets to one of the tours while we were still driving, so by the time we got there we didn't have time for lunch and went straight in.

You actually drive through a huge cave to get to the carpark! It is wide at one end but quite narrow at the other, only one car can fit at a time, and it felt very wrong to be driving through there. I didn't get a photo of that bit. This is the wide end.

The tour had been chosen because of the time it started, but it turned out that out of the nine or ten available we were on the most challenging one! 910 stairs in the cave itself (90 min tour) plus lots of stairs to get to the cave entrance. I found it physically exhausting going up, and emotionally exhausting going down narrow steep wet stairs in semi-darkness as I'm scared of heights. But the caves were pretty.


Then we had some late lunch from the very limited selection at the kiosk and drove home again. The first bit was very scenic and beautiful, then dense fog and rain as we went over the Blue Mountains back to Sydney, not so fun. It was an awful lot of driving, but Tim was happy that we'd got out of the house for a day.

The whole pool situation is still ongoing. Nothing much has happened for a month, now at least the workmen are back from holidays but it's still very slow. They come out and look at the concrete hole in the ground and tell us all the things that need to be done before other things can be done. The current issues are getting drainage and retaining walls so that any run-off during rain doesn't carry dirt into the pool (we are on a slope) and getting electricity from the house all the way back to the garden shed where the pump will be located. Expensive frustrating delays!

I've been having some exciting ideas for a new book, not in the same series as the one I've already written. Much darker. I've worked out in some detail the first half, but I don't know what happens after that yet. In my previous book I actually started knowing the ending and worked backwards, so this one is different. The author Stephen King says he generally just starts with a premise, like "what would happen in an evil car came alive?" and just starts writing. It seems to work for him! But I need to know where my story is heading before I begin, otherwise I'd just flail around and waffle on forever.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The fun of public transport

Wednesday:

This afternoon I went into the city to an information session about this library course I'm thinking about doing. I was a bit apprehensive as it was so very hot, and I was right to be! I'd left time to get lunch before the 2:00pm session, after a 1 hour trip in (car to station then train), but I couldn't face eating in the heat, at least none of the greasy food from the hole-in-the-wall outlets I could find near the station. I ended up with a milkshake in a shady spot with a bit of a breeze, I suppose that almost counts as food. I asked for half syrup but it was still horribly sweet.

The info session was good, best thing was I can do some subjects in class and some online to make the timetable fit being home outside the kids' school hours. The course is a one year Diploma which would make me a "library technician" - somewhere between a librarian (managing) and a library assistant (stacking shelves etc). The course starts in three weeks, after the kids are back at school.

It was after 3 when I left, I thought about going home but felt I really should eat something first, even though it was still too hot for food to seem appealing. We don't have a big bookshop near home but there are a couple of great ones in the city, so I decided to head over to one and get food on the way, I had a particular restaurant in mind and could catch a bus up the main road. But the road was closed for roadworks, so no buses, and the restaurant wasn't there any more (ok it's probably been 15 years since I was there), so I trudged along the sidewalk in the heat, uphill, not interested in any of the fatty fast food that I would usually love. I could have got ice cream but there was no where to eat it except the hot street so I just kept trudging along getting hotter and more miserable.

I finally went into an air conditioned food court near the bookshop and had a cool drink and a crepe with strawberries. It wasn't very nice but I made myself eat it. And did feel a bit better. Then bought a book for the train ride home.

It was approaching peak hour but I got a seat on the train and was enjoying my book. A few stations from home the train stopped for a long time then pulled into the next station and we were all told to get off and catch arranged buses as there was a signal failure problem. I squished onto a bus with about a million other people, packed under some guy's armpit, and swayed to the rhythm of the bus driver's aggressive cornering. Confusingly it didn't go to my station, or even one on that line, but to the major shopping centre where we often go to the movies. There I was told to change buses, and caught an ordinary one that was heading where I wanted to go. Not directly, of course... first we took in the scenic back streets. Every time I thought we were headed in the right direction we'd turn a corner and head off on a tangent again. But all things must end, even seemingly interminable bus rides, and we finally got to the station where I'd left the car, a full hour later than I'd expected. To see a train pull in from the city and disgorge its load of passengers... I guess they'd repaired the problem.

I slumped the couple of blocks to the car in a defeated sort of way. At least I did well over 10,000 steps today!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Maybe by next Christmas

Monday:

The pool builders are back from their Christmas holidays today. The guy who is doing the rock edging and water feature came out to offer his services for other landscaping (laying paving and building us new steps). We liked his concept and are waiting for his quote. But he told us something very sad, prefaced by "can I be honest?" (always a bad sign) he doesn't think the pool will be ready before the end of summer. We still have a month and a half left! But there is still a lot to be done: the plumbing and surfacing the concrete and a million other things. This guy isn't the site manager but he is pretty experienced in the industry. Sad and disappointing - we were originally told "by Christmas"! Maybe they meant Christmas 2017.

Standing out in the sun talking to him in the middle of the day for 40 minutes on a scorcher was no fun. Felt a bit sick. I should have got a hat but I didn't know we'd be out so long. At least Tim is home at the moment to talk to the tradesmen so he doesn't hear everything second-hand through me.

Although he took the kids out for an hour this afternoon and as soon as they'd gone there was a knock on the door - I thought it was him having forgotten something. But was a delivery guy with a stack of big boxes and heavy bags of rocks! Good timing Tim (getting out of the heavy lifting). I got the guy to carry it around to inside the side gate. Pool stuff like the filter and pump apparently, the rocks are part of the filter system?, we had no idea it was going to be delivered today (or any day).

...well surprise surprise, the back of my neck is now a lovely shade of magenta.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Splash

Saturday:

We don't know our older neighbours on one side very well and at first thought they were a bit grumpy, but they seem nice now. We haven't spoken to them much but the husband suggested a couple of times (when he saw me home with the kids on school holidays) that we were welcome to use his swimming pool if we wanted. I really didn't feel like we knew them well enough, it was too awkward, although of course I thanked him and said we might. But then he asked us to feed his dog while the humans were away this weekend, and that made it seem fair for us to use the pool and also not having them there helped! We went over this afternoon, played with Casper, and had a swim in the pool - with Casper! He shed a lot of hair, both in the pool and out of it, poor thing looked so hot. He is an elderly golden Labrador.

I fed him in the evening, and as I'd been warned he inhaled his dinner in about 12 seconds. And looked around for more. It was the right amount of food for him, but I did feel a bit sorry for him that someone so motivated by food (as all Labradors are) only got to eat for 12 seconds a day. He should learn to savour it!

I've been thinking seriously about the "what am I going to do with my life" question, and one option I'm considering is becoming a librarian. There is a one year course that I can do either in the city (might be tricky to fit within school hours, especially with all the travelling) or online. And even while studying (especially online) I could look for work, my previous qualifications and work experience (not in libraries) might help. I want to work part time. I love books, there would be some desk work but not all day, quiet and indoors, contact with people but I wouldn't have to sell anything. The TAFE course has an information session on Wednesday that I plan to go to, and I'll also go talk to my local librarians.

As with any job or study, it will affect the time I have to write (particularly with my RSI that restricts daily computer use) but I can't stay home forever. I need to think about the direction to take my writing too... do I work on the sequel to my existing book that hasn't yet found a publisher (need to spend time there) or start on a new idea that is percolating?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Boots

Friday:

Yesterday we saw another movie, "Moana". The kids don't seem to want to do much else. Just mooch around the house, which is fine with me.

Today Jasmine had a friend over, and they spent three hours giggling in her room. Weirdly her friend had my exact boots (I don't know why she was wearing boots on a hot summer day) and when she took them off she had the same socks as I am wearing today. So do I have the fashion sense of a twelve year old, or does she have that of a 46 year old?

When Emily's mother dropped her off I invited her in for a cup of tea and we had a chat. I am trying to be brave and make new friends. Seemed very nice. I was a bit secretly miffed when she had two sugars in her tea, admitted to a sweet tooth and love of desserts, her husband works for Coca-Cola,and she complained about being slack about exercise since Christmas... yet is very slender! Nice teeth too.

I am thinking more seriously that I need to get some kind of part time job (school hours) for the social aspect and the sense of purpose as much as the money (but I would like to contribute money to the household too) - but I have no idea what. Maybe I should start by looking at local job ads and see what is available?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sore

Tuesday:

I knew my legs would be sore today, but I was wrong about which bits. My calves hurt the most when actually climbing up the rock stairs, but it's the muscles at the front just above my knees that are stiff and sore now. Going down stairs is very painful!

Didn't do much today. Just the grocery shopping. I feel guilty that we didn't do more but it was so hot today. The kids played board games and iPad games and got bored. Tomorrow will be worse, 38 degrees C.

I wish we had our pool.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hiking

Monday:

Weight this morning 80.1 kg, up a little.

I knew today was going to be hot, tomorrow very hot, Wednesday stupidly hot. So if we wanted to be outside at all, it needed to be this morning. We went to a park by the river, but the kids didn't approve as the playground equipment was all on sand and they didn't want to get sand in their shoes. So we went for a walk. "Along the river" quickly became an almost vertical climb up the side of the ravine. There were steps cut into the boulders and carefully placed rocks, up and up.

And up and up. A couple of times I stopped for a rest and claimed I couldn't go any further but we kept going until we got to the lookout more or less at the top. At least I think this was the advertised official lookout, there was a little plaque on the rock but no fence, I didn't go too near the edge! My calves were hurting quite a bit and I bet I'll wake up stiff and unable to walk tomorrow! I took some photos from the top but they don't really show clearly how steep it was or how high above the river, which you can just see between the trees.


We climbed down again (hard on the knees), had a rest in the shade, then drove home and had some ice cream! It wasn't really part of my diet plan for the day, but then neither was an exhausting hike in the heat. More than an hour later after a rest, ice cream, and a cool shower, I was still hot and tomato-red in the face. And rather shaky about the legs.

Family Tree

Sunday:

On Friday Tim was home sick, yesterday I felt awful, neither of us is fully recovered. This flu or whatever it is keeps going around and around the family, or I suppose it could be more than one virus. This bit was nasty.

We were supposed to have my aunt and uncle over for lunch today. My dad's brother and his wife, they live in the country (retired farmers) many hours away. I've probably seen and spoken to them more times in the past two years, due to my father's illness and death, than all the previous twenty years put together - but before that when I was a child a spent a month every summer on my grandparents' farm. They lived next door and had three kids, my cousins, around my age; so I spent a lot of time in their house. Anyway they were visiting their son (my cousin Ashley) only an hour away from here and were going to come over and see us and our "new" house. I was feeling rotten this morning and also worried about if I was contagious but didn't like to cancel when the visit was such a rare occurrence. But Ashley called to say that they were sick so couldn't come. Of course I am sorry they are sick but for myself I was so relieved! Wouldn't have to spend the day cooking, cleaning and being cheerful and social when I just wanted to collapse in front of the TV with a book. I hope we all feel better soon.

It turns out Ashley and his sister have been investigating our family tree and have put quite a lot online on an ancestry website. They gave me access and I was able to give them some more info about my branch of the family. It's fascinating!

Tim's dad and brother came over in the afternoon to play Dungeons and Dragons but I don't play any more so that didn't bother me or interfere with me resting. Jasmine looks after little Emma. My sister-in-law has been confined to the house for 30 days after giving birth to her new baby (Chinese tradition, to let the mother rest and get to know her new baby) although she did come over for Christmas, we haven't seen her much due to the illness going around so we haven't gone over there with our germs. That "moon time" is over in two days and hopefully we'll all be well and able to socialise again.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Still me

Thursday:

I hadn't realised I'd gone so long without a post... only four days I think but I used to post every day and even now at least every second day. Haven't had a lot to write about I guess. Health/diet has been much the same; I start every day well but end up eating some kind of unhealthy treat by the end of the day. I'm maintaining my weight, which is better than gaining but not as good as losing! Somehow I yet again deluded myself that a New Year would transform me into a different person who reacted differently to temptation and found exercise appealing. Well guess what, it's 2017 and I'm still me!

Tim is back at work this week. Today the kids and I went to see the movie "Sing" which we really enjoyed. It's animated, animals in a singing competition. Themes of being yourself, striving for goals etc. Cute and great singing.

It's only a 15 minute drive from here to the movies but Aiden fell asleep in the car on the way there, in the middle of the day. We've all been sick, on and off, since before Christmas with some kind of flu. Sore throats, headaches, runny noses, sneezing and coughing. The usual, nothing too serious. It got to Aiden last. I thought he seemed well today but I guess the falling asleep during the day - very unlike him - shows not.

Today I did some Xbox Kinect dancing, I only managed 15 minutes. I remember the days when I could do more than an hour. Jasmine danced with me, I don't think she broke a sweat. I had to go and have a shower. One thing I hate about exercise is I continue to feel very hot and keep sweating for at least half an hour or more afterwards, even after a cool shower. But annoying or not, I can't let that stop me. I'll build up again! And maybe when I'm fit I won't get so red-faced and sweaty for so long!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Sunday:

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017. Last night we had family over, we had cider and snacks and played the board game "Imaginif" which gets you to ask questions like "If Daniel was a dog, what sort of dog would he be?" And gives you six options to choose from. With that particular question I was explaining to Daniel's wife what all the options were; I could understand not knowing what a miniature Schnauzer is but who hasn't heard of a Golden Retriever? Or a corgi?! (The consensus was that Daniel was most like a Golden Retriever: big loyal and cuddly.) One I remember about myself was what sort of monster is Natalie most like; werewolf, King Kong etc. I chose vampire but everyone else said the Cookie Monster! Obvious really.

We watched the early session of fireworks on TV and guests were gone by 11:00 when I went to bed, I haven't stayed up until midnight for any reason for years. I get too tired. The kids both stayed up with Tim for the first time and they seem fine today.

Today we saw the Star Wars movie Rogue One (we remembered to pre-purchase tickets this time) and we all thought it was good. We'd decided to grab lunch there, before the movie, but it turned out there was a choice of exactly one restaurant open in the complex! The food court and everything else was closed for New Year's Day. Only the Chinese restaurant was open, maybe because they don't have their New Year celebration for another month. Luckily we like Chinese food.

I'm struggling a bit with returning to healthy eating with all the leftover treats still in the house. I've served them to visitors and taken things when we go elsewhere, but other people also bring us more!  I can't throw anything out with Tim and the kids here. We are down to a couple of boxes of chocolates now, mainly, but I love chocolate! Usually I just have 70% dark Lindt available. It's so much easier to resist junk when it isn't right under my nose!