Tuesday, 29 July 2014


If this is true, then it's official. Despite being 50 I'm not mature.

Although perhaps the circumstances were less about hurt and more about being blatantly insulted. 

Here's what happened.

The planning of the shed renovation has been going on for god knows how long, but part of it requires landscape plans for the backyard. I did a bit of research and found a designer whose ideas seemed right for what we're after. He came over for a (paid) consultation but we didn't like him. He was just a bit of a smart arse and not very diplomatic about our ideas - but hey, we're not having him over for dinner and I'm still hopeful his plan will be good so whatever.

Once appointed, he sent his side kick over to measure up the space. A woman, even older than me, who'd rung the day before to set up the time and seemed really friendly....over the phone. 

She arrived at the appointed time and as I can see the front gate from my desk, I opened the door to greet her. 'Oh my god!' she started with, 'I thought I was arriving at grandma's house.'

Now that was just rude. And for the record, I'd like you to know that many a person stops on the way to the cafe on the corner to admire our house (I can see them from my desk, remember!). I regularly have people comment when I'm out there. Even the gardener (I use that term loosely, he has no qualifications whatsoever and randomly rocks up with a couple of backpackers ever few months) says people tell him how much they like our front garden. So I was affronted to say the least.

'Really?' I asked, genuinely bewildered. 'Why's that?'
She had the decency to look mildly uncomfortable.
'Why have you got a handrail on your steps?' she said.

Right. That was it. Game on.

'Oh that.' I said casually. 'Yeah - I suppose we could get rid of it. Actually... we had a ramp as well because our older children had disability and ended up in wheelchairs, but they've both since died. We did get rid of that...'

Her mild discomfort escalated to a shade below panic. 
'I am so sorry,' she blurted. 'Do you usually get people who just say something like that...I'm so sorry... I...I....  ' she was now floundering and I was giving her nothing. 
'Not really, no. Would you like a cup of tea?'

Anyway, I remained totally composed as I showed her the backyard and she continued to try and retrieve the situation by digging an even deeper hole with stupid questions like 'Do you have any other children?' None of your business, would have been the right answer but I was too polite - albeit completely unsympathetic. Seriously, did she want me to just step up and slap her hard so she could recover from her hysteria??

Anyway, an hour or so later she knocked on the front door (I'd managed to not let her into the house) to tell me she'd finished and apologise again and went away. Hopefully I'll never see her again - for both our sakes.

I don't know how they're in business.... 

My therapist did say that I should always go with what feels best for me at the time when people ask about my children. But I'm not sure even she would have predicted that one day I would use that information as a weapon.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Swings and Roundabouts

Years ago, we decided to stop buying the insurance to cover the $2-3,000 excess of rental cars. It was almost as much a day as the cost of the car. So we bit the bullet and decided if we ever need to pay the excess, we'd still be ahead. Of course this has its own risks - you need access to that kind of cash should you need. (However, I've also since discovered the annual travel insurance policy we now take out covers it. Am I the only one who always feels like I have insurance on insurance??) Anyway, the point is, that was probably over 10 years ago and by now, with no accidents, we're definitely ahead.

So I'm desperately trying to apply that same logic to cheap airline tickets.

We didn't have anything planned this year, so on a whim, I booked to go skiing in Queenstown, New Zealand. I'd like to say now, I did check the dates with my other half, the one I'm not allowed to mention on my blog and he said that sounded okay. So I booked.

Two weeks later, the invitation to the wedding of the cousin of he-who-can't be-mentioned-on-my-blog arrived. And no, this wasn't a surprise. He (and I guess me too) had known about this since the start of the year at least - just no one got around to putting it in the diary - and yes, it's interstate on the day we were meant to be flying to New Zealand. Oops.

Having tossed around a couple of options it was clear there was no option - I needed to move the very cheap, not-really-flexible flights.

I managed to change one with the same airline at a cost of about 70% of the original tickets. (Cheap suddenly became kind of expensive...) The other airline had no flights on the day (well, none that took less than 26 hours on what is a 3 hour direct flight) so we just had to forfeit those. I did think Geoff and I could have had a weekend in Wellington without the kids - but no, you can't change the names on the tickets with an international flight - ever!!! Probably can't change the destination either.

I had booked and paid for the accommodation through a new online booking company that's based in Turkey. When I cancelled, I got all my money put back on my Visa within a few days as promised. Phew. I then found an even better deal on another site so that was a small consolation.

I've tried about 8 times to change the car hire booking on cartrawler.com - god knows that doesn't work. I'll have to ring them.

So to console myself, I keep thinking of the many other, hitch-free cheap flights we've had over the years and think this day was always coming - but I'm sure I'm still well ahead!

PS Sorry about the gap between posts - you can tell when work gets very busy!!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Re Run

I'm not much of a runner. I've posted before about my attitude to it. The fact that 'fun run' is an oxymoron. The thing I like most about running is when it's over. There are some days (not many) when I seem to run with ease and minimal effort. Others I feel as nimble as a bag of wet cement. And tragically there's no predicting which until I've started.

I did the 15km Run For The Kids this year. I was hoping to scrape in under 90 minutes but no such luck. In spite of arduous, boring and regular training, I did it in 92. Damn. And I really didn't think I could have squeezed more if I'd known.

So it was with some enthusiasm that I was talking to a physio that did it in about 67 minutes!! Okay, that is an amazing time and way out of my league - and she's probably a good 20+ years younger than me - BUT she did reveal technique has a lot to do with it. And I immediately booked in for a session.

Can I firstly say how disappointing it is when someone videos you and it reveals you don't look as amazing and athletic as you'd liked to have imagined?? Okay - I'm almost over that. Lucky it didn't put me off running all together!

Trying to change the way you run isn't easy. But already I can sense that it will make a big difference to my speed. Which my brother once unkindly commented was up there with most people's fast walking.

It is a killer on my calves and given most of my boots are already very snug in that area, I'm hoping to god that there's no building up there!

Anyway, I'll report back - probably in April next year when I do the next Run For The Kids!

PS - I know there's a video by a tampon brand about 'like a girl' circulating on FB - but I've always liked the term. It doesn't have to be derogatory. Mind you, I'm probably harsh about that sort of advertising - I don't like the Dove ads either. Perhaps a topic for another post.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Grade 3 Three-way Conference

Last week we had Sass's Three-way Conference.

Sass - looking particularly intellectual.

Now I don't know about you but I'm pretty sure I didn't even know what the word 'conference' meant when I was in Grade 3.

When Jaz was very little, I taught her to say 'corporate merger', 'communication strategy' and 'international fund policy' - purely as a party trick. She had no idea what any of it meant - but it always got a good reaction.

But these days, the concepts kids have to grasp seem pretty complex to me.

A Three-way Conference (because I didn't know what that was!) is simply a meeting between the teacher, the student and the parents. However, if I was being picky, there was no conferring. It was Sass taking us through some of her chosen pieces from her portfolio. (Yes, why have a mere work book when you can have a portfolio?)

As she read some bits to us, her teacher reminded her to use her reading strategies. Now that is the correct use of the word, but still, strategies at 8??

She also talked to us about the concepts of text to text, text to world and text to self - being (in order) a piece of text that reminds you of:

  • something else you've read (another piece of text) 
  • some random fact about the world 
  • or something to do with you. 
Not desperately difficult I concede, but still - they're in grade 3!

In fact, I don't think I even knew what text was until high school.

It has been seven years since I last had someone in Grade 3 and over 12 years since the oldest went through and I assume I was paying close attention - and still I have no recollection of these big words and ideas.

So, what do you think? Are kids getting smarter? Is this approach better equipping them for a more complex world or do you think it's been unnecessarily tricked up?

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...