Monday, January 28, 2008

Menu plan 28 Jan 08

I got back into my full menu planning as of today - breakfasts, lunches, afternoon teas and dinners all worked out ahead of time, but I won't bore you with the whole lot. I'm not trying anything adventurous this week what with it being the first week back at school and re-establishing routines promising to take up quite enough mental energy as it is.

Crumbed fish, oven chips and peas - boring but easy.
BBQ steak, jacket baked potato and salad - I want to try and use the new BBQ a bit more often than we used the old one, which leads me to....
Honey soy chicken kebabs, rice and stir-fry veg - For this I need to buy myself a wok, no really, I do! See there's this wok burner attached to the BBQ and I can cook the kebabs on the grill and it just makes so much sense to do the veggies in the same place and no, the deep fry-pan I usually use for stir-fry would NOT do just fine. Why are you looking at me like that?
Tacos - can I be bothered trying to buy a half-way decent avocado for this? I'm jinxed when it comes to avocados, completely incapable of picking a good one I tell you.
Eating out - the kids are staying overnight at my mum's place and there's this thing Adam and I did 16 years ago to celebrate.
Spaghetti bolognese and salad - sadly there's no bolognese sauce left in the freezer so it's time to cook up another huge batch.
Lamb cutlets, noodles and BBQ veg - mmmm char-grilled veggies yum!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Moving the furniture

I presume everyone's noticed the redecorating that's been going on around here? I've been having fun slowly getting things juuuust right. Occasionally I'll ask Adam for an opinion, invariably he replies "yeah, looks good" or something to that effect. He's more interested in the content than the decor which I guess is kind of nice. I'm quite surprised he hasn't complained about the changes, I always get into trouble when I shift the furniture around in the house, change being so traumatic and all ;-)

I've just added a twitter feed to the sidebar over there ----> so even if I can't get my act together on blogging from my mobile I can bombard the place with sms twitters along the lines of "OMG!! I just saw the most amazing thing!!!!...." it'll be fun, I promise.

I'm still hankering after a touch more colour, I'm thinking of putting together some sort of banner pic to stick in behind the "Mim's Muddle" up the top there. Just have to come up with something that feels like me...oh, and develop some actual photoshop type skills, that'd be handy.

Hmm, and a new profile pic wouldn't go astray either.

It's a lot cheaper and quicker redecorating a blog than a house, less pulled muscles too!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No gelato for me

We went out for dinner with friends tonight. Nice and early so the kids would be civilized. Well. Not so much with the civilized.

We've been taking our kids to all kinds of restaurants from very early on, they're usually pretty good, and really they were ok for most of the time tonight too. However, I was getting pretty annoyed with Tom while we were waiting for our meals as he kept draping himself all over me, hugs are one thing attempted smothering is another. When that was paired with David grinding his head into my shoulder on the other side I was driven to insist on having my personal space to myself. Then there was the other two driving Tom to tears by telling him to stop talking about Alvin and the Chipmunks which we'd been to see with my dad yesterday (I do empathise with the desire to shut him up though). Once the food arrived things settled down nicely and I was able to enjoy my greek salad and seafood risotto with only the occasional reminder to the kids to keep their voices down, but once they finished, and we adults were still eating, they began to get sillier and louder. I several times reminded them that they needed to have some consideration for other people at the restaurant. They asked for dessert and were told we would go to Gelatissimo on the condition they behaved while we finished our meal. A couple of minutes later there was a shriek from Caitlin and I turned to see David in the act of pulling her hair! Apparently this was in retaliation for her pinching him. "Right, no ice-cream for you two."

Tom was sitting between Adam and I and was still eligible for gelato as were our friends' kids so David and Caitlin glowered, sulked and wept as the others got their desserts, then we said our goodbyes and headed for home.

But what really pisses me off about all this is that I was totally intending to have a coffee gelato but decided I couldn't add insult to injury by eating ice-cream at Dave and Cait as well as being the one who'd said they couldn't have any.

I feel cheated :(

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nat made me teary

Tardie aka Nat has a post on her blog today in which she shares a story that brought tears to my eyes, it's titled "Shh...let me tell you a secret..." and here's a few extracts (go read the whole thing though, won't you?)
Once upon a time there was a young girl who loved to swim. In truth, she just loved being in the water. She loved the beach, the pool, the bathtub - it didn't matter what it was, she just loved the water.
She quit competitive swimming at 15 and with one thing and another found herself joining Weight Watchers with a long journey ahead.
...the middle aged little girl is now becoming friends with other people that have a lot of weight to lose, and a whole heap of them (some bigger than her) are talking about going swimming or finally having swimming lessons.

And the middle aged little girl is jealous. She's jealous because she misses the water - she misses the feeling of gliding almost effortlessly through the water and being weightless - at least for a little while. And she yearns for the water. But she's terrified. Going swimming is exposing herself in a VERY public way and she's never been very good at that. In fact, she sucks at it.
But despite it being such a difficult thing to do, Nat took herself and her family to the pool this week and swam...
At last she is in and allows the cool water to embrace every part of her being. And she weeps because she feels as if she is home. This is where she was meant to be.
I'm so incredibly happy for her that she's been able to reclaim the joy of swimming and also glad that someone else gets some benefit from my (and others') braving of the public pool. I reckon it's cause for serious celebration whenever we manage to stop thinking "I can't until..." and start thinking "bugger that, I'm doing it anyway!", so here's to you Nat and to all of us big girls - carpe diem and stuff what anyone else thinks!

And here's my secret. It's not that I don't care what all those strangers think, I do because I'm human and I can't help but be aware and care about the public gaze. Thing is years ago when I found myself not wanting to do things with the kids because of how I felt being vulnerable in public I decided I had to chose which was more important, my ego or the kids' childhood experiences. And the kids won hands down. So we went and did things like spending the day at the beach with me in the water with them despite my discomfort. I might still be very much aware of how I look but I can choose how much I let that matter, how much I let it influence my decisions.

Back then I would need a day or two lead up so I could psych myself into being able to put my swimmers on and take my t-shirt off. In the last year or so it's getting easier, last summer I even allowed myself to be persuaded to have a dip in a good friend's backyard pool in a borrowed rash vest and my undies! (A VERY good friend lol)

Buying the bikes has been another breakthrough. I'd been waiting for the time when I'd lost enough weight to not feel completely ridiculous on a bike, plus I was scared I'd just break it! Then I found my way to Sarah's blog "Fat Girl on a Bike" and had to take a good hard look at my excuses. Now I can't wait to get the wheels spinning when we head up to the Hunter Valley...though I'm still a bit scared of breaking the bike and I do look ludicrous in my helmet, but doesn't everyone?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I blog therefore I am

When we were driving all those hours on Thursday and Friday I found myself thinking about what I would post if only I had managed to get around to setting up blogging from my mobile. So I picked up a pad of paper and a pencil and began doing it the old-fashioned way. Adam laughed at me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008
I have wheels

We began the day with a trip out to Glenorie with 2 yowling cats in the back of the car. Tom apparently found this hysterically funny greeting each mournful "Merrrowwwwl" with loud giggling. This got old very quickly.

Next was a quick trip to the shops, new sunnies for the kids. a new portable DVD player for the car and some activity books ( I claim this to be mindful consumerism and money well spent on preserving our sanity).

Then home to pack the car. While I was doing that my new bike was delivered. I hopped on and wobbled my way round the cul-de-sac a few times. David laughed at me.

It felt really good to be back on a bike, I haven't ridden for probably 15 years! I'm looking forward to this.

Friday, 11th January, 2008
A little too close for comfort

As we drove towards Melbourne in the afternoon there loomed ahead of us a bank of dark grey cloud. Fat drops of rain began to spot the windscreen, lightning flashed on the horizon.

Then suddenly we were in the thick of it, the rain began in earnest and the wind rose.

Flash! Bang! Less than 100m ahead in the trees beside the road lightning struck and a branch fell to the ground in a burst of flame. As we passed the now blackened patch of grass another strike grounded just behind us on the other side of the road.

I've always wanted to see lightning strike but I'd prefer not to be quite that close in future.

Saturday, January 12th, 2008
Sun, swimming and shooting

The Golden Valleys campsite is lovely, the kids (big and small) had much fun on the trampoline and in the pool. I was persuaded to join in a game of battleships which involves trying to swim past the person who is in while they try to grab you with their eyes closed. It was fun, and surprisingly strenuous! Adam got himself designated archery range supervisor and we had a good play around with the weaponry. I'm reasonably pleased with the results I got out of my longbow on her first outing but as mentioned I do need to work on my technique out of self-preservation if nothing else. Either that or get Adam to make me a full length arm guard.

These 2 pics shamelessly pinched from magdalena. Man there are so many things wrong with what I'm doing there.

These are the slightly faded versions 3 days later.

The evening entertainment was duly entertaining and there was plenty of good food, fun and booze involved.

Sunday, January 13, 2008
Time to pack up already?!

It was COLD this morning! Tom wanted to swim and was mightily displeased when we said no. I cooked bacon (1kg) and eggs (12) for breakfast till I'd had enough, after which it was a case of every man for himself. Then we packed, scoffed a makeshift lunch of left-overs and shoe-horned ourselves back into the car. Why is there always more stuff going home than you packed in the first place?

took us to her parents' place to show us around and introduce us to the horses, they were gorgeous, horses are good people :)

Monday, January 14, 2008
If I hear anything else about Ben Ten my head will explode

Tom spent the vast majority of our time in the car this trip watching Season 2 of Ben Ten. When he wasn't watching he was talking about it. I suppose if I'd actually listened to any of it I'd know all about the various aliens that Ben can transform into and all about the various enemies he encounters. I'm rationing him to a few minutes of ear-bashing me at a time, Adam on the other hand has promised to watch it with him, what a nice dad (sucker!).

I'm heartily sick of takeaway food, we've had far too many stops at maccas and I need some real food, next time we travel like this I'm doing what my mum always did (and which always pissed me off when I was younger) and will be making sandwiches and taking decent food along for the road trip.

We did the Rutherglen detour stopping at Stanton and Killeen for their muscat and other wines and Gooramadda for their olives and olive oil. After that there was no more space in the car so after lunch at the Tuileries cafe we were homeward bound.

Which brings us to today

My house is trashed, there are bags of stuff everywhere, there's a mountain of washing to do. So what do I do? Invite friends of Tom and Caitlin over for a play of course.

We've just had dinner on the front deck and I'm sitting out here finishing my post and being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Life is good. No, really, it's all worth it!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I have net!

We're in Albury and even though I didn't ask Adam has indulged me by hooking me up to the hotel broadband - I wasn't going to ask 'cause the desk is in the room where the kids are sleeping so I'm sitting here in the dark risking disturbing them with the glow of the laptop and the click of the keyboard.

The trip has been great so far, the DVD players did a stellar job keeping the kids occupied and us sane on the road. The campsite was gorgeous, the weather was just right, we swam, I finally got to shoot with my longbow (and my technique sucks - I have the bruises to prove it), there was good company and fun times.

I have been blogging on paper in the absence of a net connection but I can't type those stories up right now on account of not being able to read in the dark, you'll have to wait till I'm on home ground. It'll be worth the wait for the storm story if nothing else.

We're back on the road again tomorrow, but perhaps with a slight detour to the Rutherglen wineries before we head north. You can never have too much good muscat on hand :D

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

We're all going on a summer holiday...

*no more working for a week day or two*

My mum used to sing that as we headed off on our many camping holidays way back when. It just popped into my head now as I was playing around with the phrase "we're off on a holiday" trying to make it sound vaguely interesting. I shall have to remember to annoy the kids with it tomorrow afternoon on our way south. They find it disturbing when I start serenading them with the songs my parents used to sing. There's "Daddy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow" (obvious application here), "It's a long way to Tipperary" (good for use in response to "Are we there yet?"), "I can see the seaside" (for stating the bleeding obvious), "Country Road" (for when traveling on said type of road) and "Cloudy" (for grey weather, of course) among others.

Ah, the good old days when we didn't even have so much as a tape player in the car, relied on 4x80 aircon (4 windows open traveling at 80km...what's that? the speed limit is 100 here? don't be silly, the car won't do that on a road like this), taking the scenic route (Alright, next time we'll take the front of the convoy and the others can breathe our dust...). You really knew you were traveling then, none of this sitting in climate controlled comfort watching DVDs and playing DS games....

DEAR GOD THANKYOU for modern conveniences!!!!! We'll be driving to Yass tomorrow afternoon and then on to the Mornington Peninsula on Friday, with any luck we might even arrive sane. Then we're driving back again on Monday. Which clearly negates any claim to sanity right there and then. Why are we doing this? It's the Browncoats of course, another Big Damn Meet - BDooM! So I'll be back on blog Monday night, unless I can get my mobile blogging thing working - don't hold your breath on that one though.

Now, I should probably start packing....

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tonight I am the tooth fairy

I'm under strict instructions from Tom who has just lost his 3rd tooth. For some reason it is the source of great glee to him that the tooth fairy is his mother while at the same time he seems convinced that I have no idea how to play the role.*

He tells me he plans on sleeping all night without waking up once and while he is asleep I am to creep quietly into his room and take the tooth from it's chinese tea cup full of water and put it in a safe place. He asked me what I do with the teeth I take and I said I usually throw them out which pleased him not at all. Interestingly enough he doesn't seem to have an opinion about what should be left in its place, my going rate is $1 for an incisor so $1 it is.

Adam suggested I wear some wings and Tom chimed in with requests for a wand and tiara to be part of the costume. I have declined because I am boring. Now excuse me while I go collect my ladder and pliers.

*There may be some validity to his concern, the tooth fairy is notorious for being several days late in this house.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Time for tea

One of my small pleasures in life is to make a pot of tea in my stainless steel pot, set the tea tray with stoneware mugs, milk jug and bowl from Lue Pottery and our Tasmanian Blackheart Sassafras sugar bowl, and sit with Adam in the peace of the evening to enjoy a cup or two.

These mugs are from a set of 6 that we received as a Christmas present from my mum, they are gorgeous and I love them. We used to have a set that matched the milk jug but we're down to 2 of them so it's nice to have another set. It's a good thing mum was the one who went to Lue, I'd have come back with an entire kitchen cupboard's worth! I'm looking forward to serving up tea to my gardener in the new mugs - he appreciates the craftsmanship in the stoneware too.

Our brew of choice is Twinings English Breakfast though we vary that occasionally with a blend Adam brought home from the British Museum. I sometimes think we should be a little more adventurous - does anyone have a favourite brew for us to try?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Maiden flight

Adam has a new toy, a radio controlled model aeroplane.

Ariane's other half did a heap of on-line research tracking down the best deal on the various bits and pieces and got them all shipped in for himself and us. Adam picked up his share on Christmas Eve and built the plane on Christmas Day. Then he had to wait till we had the chance to go somewhere with a sufficient lack of trees to give it a go. This morning we all piled in the car and went to a park near Ariane's place.

The launch was successful, the plane flew beautifully....

....the landing needs some practice!

The commentary on the video is due to the fact that I couldn't see a thing on the camera screen as I filmed and was having some no small difficulty ascertaining whether I was getting anything other than the sky in shot - turns out I did OK though Adam wants to know why I didn't zoom in, I'd have missed most of the flight if I'd done that I'm sure.

As we headed back from the park in the car Adam mentioned that his back was sore and I said it was probably because Tom had been in our bed with us from 2:00am onwards. This prompted me to turn around with the intent of laying down the law to Tom on the subject of staying in your own bed, but what I actually said was "Um...where's Tom?"

Yes, we'd driven off and left him playing on the swings in the park. Adam pulled over and went back for the small boy who had just noticed that we'd all disappeared on him. Fortunately he thought it was funny. Phew!

We retired to home base and had BBQ lunch cooked by our celebrated pilots after which Ariane and I sat around chatting while the big boys went off to the study and spent some more money on aeroplane bits, I think we'll be going through quite a few.

Incidently, the other plane crashed too, after mere seconds of flight, it lost its propeller but seemed otherwise ok-ish.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

No more mindless consumerism

Just before Christmas I was driving somewhere with the kids in the car and I began to talk to them about some thoughts I'd been having on the subject of stuff. The endless stuff we accumulate, buy, covet and horde. The stuff that takes over our home and gets in the way of living. The stuff that we don't need, don't use and wouldn't miss if it wasn't there.

I said to the kids that it was time for us to stop spending money at the drop of a hat, that we really need to get out of the habit of buying the things we want whenever we want simply because we can. I pointed out that by doing so we were left with nothing to ask for when birthdays and Christmas came around because we already had everything we wanted. My suggestion was that instead, whenever we came across something we liked the look of, however big or small, that we should put it on a wish-list and wait. The kids were kind of OK with this idea, though they did point out that what with Mothers and Fathers Day Adam and I would be getting a better deal out of the arrangement. I agreed that they would also be allowed to save up pocket money to purchase things from their wish-lists themselves.

The more I think about it, the more important I feel it is for us to make some big changes to our consumer behaviour. I don't like the entitled attitude my kids have, if there's something they want they believe they should be allowed to have it, when I say no - and I do say no plenty I assure you - it can be as though I'm violating some fundamental right. The older two are getting better but Tom can be a real nightmare sometimes.

I think part of the problem stems from the time when Adam was traveling for work quite a lot. When he first started going "overseas" he would bring back gifts, as one does, and as the frequency of his trips increased the kids' expectations of presents on his return began to take on an unpleasantly mercenary aspect. It creeps up on you, that sort of thing. Once I realised what was happening I asked him to stop bringing gifts back unless he was away for a significant length of time - I should have said stop bringing them altogether but it was too hard to give up completely something that made the travel seem less onerous.

To be honest though, it's really just that we've enjoyed being able to provide things because we could, we do it for ourselves - if there's something we want we (mostly) go ahead and get it, if we want to eat out we do - so why not do it for the kids? Well, it's not good for the kids and it's not good for us. It stops now.

The idea of doing without shopping has been floating around for a while, everything from Adbuster's Buy Nothing Day to people who have made pledges to quit shopping for a year. One of my favourite bloggers, Chris has just begun her own no shopping experiment and is blogging the experience at A Year Off. As I read I wonder if my feeble little wish-list idea is enough. Maybe I ought to be taking it further? Maybe we could go the whole nine yards too? And then I think no, don't set yourself up for failure, it'll be enough to stick with special occasions shopping only. I do plan on keeping the principle of want vs. need in mind for general shopping too though. So that's what we're going to do.

Now I just have to tell Adam....

Friday, January 04, 2008

So far so good

Sink - still shiny.
Laundry - all clean, dry and folded. Still some to be put away and LOTS of ironing to do.
Exercise - weights training on track every second day, need to get moving on the cardio. I should be able to get another swim in tomorrow.

Hey, I know it's early days, but I'm celebrating every little success thankyouverymuch!

My bike hasn't arrived yet, I rang the shop this afternoon and they said Monday hopefully. I was hoping to have my first ride on the weekend but it'll have to wait.

David has written 2 blog posts in the last 2 days and tonight asked me plaintively whether I was going to leave him any comments. "Maybe..." says I. 'Tis done, us bloggers need comment type validation ;-)

I am now going to make myself a mug of chai tea and watch some Stargate Atlantis.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thinking ahead

I like having a meal plan, shopping is more efficient, the 5:30pm decision making is done and there are less arguments with the kids too. I aim for one scare the kids night each week where I cook something that broadens their culinary horizons a little - it doesn't always happen though. Planning a week ahead at a time seems to work best, anything more and life ends up getting in the way and making the plan redundant, and less means too many trips to the shops. I've been known to plan 3 meals and snacks sometimes, which works quite well in term time but with us all in holiday mode I'll just stick with the dinners.

Friday: Homemade pizza. Dessert - fruit and yoghurt.

Dough made in the bread machine and divided into individual bases for each family member, bowls of everyone's favourite toppings arrayed on the kitchen table, building them is half the fun, cooking them all at once in my lovely double oven and then sitting down to a meal that no-one will complain about - pure bliss!

Saturday: BBQ steak, sausages and veg (eggplant, zucchini and red capsicum) with salad. Dessert - fresh fruit.

We'll be taking this one to Nan's place for lunch, the tricky bit is getting the kids to come out of the pool for long enough to actually eat.

Sunday: Mango chicken curry, rice and steamed veg. Dessert - ice cream.

Out of a jar. 'Nuff said.

Monday: Lamb and chicken kebabs with couscous salad. Dessert - fruit and yoghurt.

I'd do just lamb but then Caitlin wouldn't eat anything so half chicken is the way to go. Also, waaay less on the couscous recipe ;-)

Tuesday: Baked fish parcels. Dessert - fruit and yoghurt.

On sheets of baking paper layer thinly sliced desiree potatoes and zucchini, thickly sliced vine ripened tomatoes, a firm white fish fillet, chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley, fresh dill and sliced lemons. Wrap each sheet up into a sealed parcel, put on a baking tray and bake at 200°C for 25 minutes or until fish is cooked and veggies are tender. If I'm feeling brave this'll be a scare the kids night, if not I'll do frozen crumbed fish for them and the good stuff for us.

Wednesday: Crumbed chicken, pasta and steamed veg. Dessert - ice cream.

Oven baked crumbed chicken topped with a slice of ham and a slice of cheese. Remember to cook extra pasta for Thursday's pasta salad.

Thursday: Tuna and pasta salad. Dessert - fresh fruit.

We'll be on the road at dinner time so I think I'll have a meal at lunch and we can grab Maccas on the run.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How to use Nan's pool

Jump in together

Confuse dog horribly - he couldn't decide if they should be played with or rescued.

Climb out again immediately

Repeat ad nauseam.

Tom on theology

"Mum, all parents believe that God is a myth."

"Really? What makes you say that?"

"You think it's a myth."

"Well, yes, I do. Just like the Greek and Roman gods were myths."

"But not the Egyptian gods, they were real."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


I'm not much of a fan of New Years resolutions normally but I do have a few things in mind this year. I've already made a start on all of them which makes me feel more comfortable talking about it because I figure I've avoided the New Years resolution jinx, you know, the one where anything you resolve to start in the new year is guaranteed to have fallen by the wayside within a week at best.

So, first up is my shiny sink (FlyLady code for a clean and tidy kitchen) . It's been shiny for a week so far and it's such a nice thing to wake up to a pristine kitchen...even if the rest of the house is still in a state of chaos. I'm not going to make grand plans to have everything else under control in some hopelessly optimistic time frame, instead I resolve merely to maintain the shiny sink. If other things start falling into place then well and good, and if not, well, at least the kitchen will be functional.

Next is the "shiny sink" for downstairs - the laundry. I have, at present, no mountain of clean washing waiting to be folded and only 2 (I think) loads of washing waiting to be done, one of which is swimming stuff from today. I have been folding as I go for a change instead of dumping it all in a big pile to do later and then spending the next week or so doing archaeological digs in search of matching socks every morning. I rather like knowing where all my clothes are and the kids are able to dress themselves without me being involved at all - YAY!

Last is my fitness. I'm sick of feeling like I'm encumbered with a body that doesn't really feel like mine. I want to feel at home in my skin, be strong, fit and able. In the past I've fallen into the trap of thinking that if only I lose the weight everything will start to feel right. I'm coming to the realisation that that is nonsense. It's all part of the Fantasy of Being Thin - as Kate Harding puts it - and it makes you put off doing the things you want to "until". Well, bugger that! I'm going to start doing stuff now, what may or may not happen with my weight is another matter entirely. Hence the bike buying. Also, for the last week, I've been getting up and doing weight training every other morning, and I have that lovely "oh yep, those muscles have been working" feeling all over. Today I added my first cardio workout to the mix, I swam pretty much non-stop for just over 30 minutes, I went slow and there was a lot more breaststroke than freestyle but it's a start. Mostly I plan on getting back on the treadmill but while the weather allows I'll get in a pool when I can. So, there you have it, 30 minutes every day minimum, alternating cardio and weights, and we'll see where it goes from there.

On a lighter note, we got fortune cookies at our friends' New Years party last night. I'm rather taken with mine.
"Confucius say: if you think we're going to sum up your whole life on this little bit of paper, you're crazy."
Happy New Year everyone :)