Monday, July 28, 2008

More adventures in mountain biking

Amanda and I went out to Cudlee Creek again on the weekend for an eventful ride. It started off well when we only made one or two little side-detours on the way there, cutting our travel time in half compared to last time. Next time I'm sure we'll make it all the way there without one wrong turn! Continuous improvement is the name of the game.
There was no-one in the park again, which I couldn't understand. The sky was clear blue (except for the looming rain clouds), the sun was shining, and it must have been at least, oh, 8 degrees in the sun. We quickly got on the bikes and started moving. Amanda has been in training, after my old legs exposed her lack of fitness last time. She has been making an effort to get out on the bike and actually up some bigger hills, and you could notice the difference. I didn't have to stop and wait quite so often. :P
After hooning around a little bit on a purpose-built downhill (lots of downhill and corners for very little uphill, very good value), we made it to the top of this very high hill and then I started the descent. It was a narrow track, steep and slippery. My back wheel slid out from me a couple of times but I got it under control and made it down. I stopped to watch Amanda, who'd wised up after watching me slide around and rode down in the grass on the side of the track, very clever. When she was nearly down the bottom, I headed off on another downhill, around a corner and out of sight. In the first wildlife sighting of the day, a massive SHEEP bounced across my path. When I made it to the bottom of this downhill, I saw another half a dozen sheep looking down from the top (probably wondering where the other one had disappeared to) and about the same number of kangaroos hopped past. I took a photo of the sheep while I waited for Amanda. And waited. Waiting for too long is not a good sign. Finally I headed back up the downhill, to discover her at the top. She'd stacked it about two seconds after I started off again, going straight over her handlebars and landing on her head and shoulder. Took a large chunk out of her helmet, and hurt her head and her shoulder, as well as somehow ending up with a massive bump on her ankle. She was recovering by the time I made it back and decided to press on. So we headed off the same downhill I'd already been down. Only this time, instead of making it over a fairly large log in the track, my wheel slid along the log, meaning the bike and I went sideways and slid down the hill. Fortunately it was a grassy trail and my backside is reasonably well padded, so it wasn't all that painful, but I collected a LOT of dirt and weeds in many bits of the bike, and my hip is letting me know about it today too.
Later we came to an incredibly steep uphill that there was no way we were going to ride up (or down, for that matter, waaaay too scary), even walking up it was difficult. Note to self: get cycling shoes with some grip. Amanda managed to slip over and land the bike on top of her. I was already at the top and went down to bring her bike the rest of the way up for her. And this time she actually drew blood! On her knee. She bravely cycled on (we passed more sheep or perhaps it was the same gang following us). There were no more adventures, and it didn't even rain on us.
The park is beautiful, lots of panoramic views without very many people at all. Considering both the Mawson and Heysen trails criss-cross the park, that's surprising. We came across one group of about eight walkers, and there were some lads with bikes in the carpark as we were packing up, but that was it. We are starting to get a feel for our location in the park, as it's not really that big. Although there's one whole section to the west that we haven't even ventured in yet... next time perhaps...

Photo: Just to prove it really happened - the blobs near the top of the hill are sheep.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

School holidays

Tonight all the children were asleep by 630pm. It's been a big two weeks! Last night all children were involved in sleepovers, with school friends or cousins, so there were a few late nights. Ryan deserves special mention, for apparently waking up at 1230 and playing Wii with his friend until 530, when I woke up and told them it was too early to get up and to go back to bed. They did go back to bed fortunately but were totally wiped by tonight. He also managed to lose his loose tooth tonight - it's only been loose for a couple of days but he worried at it so much that it's already out, most of the root intact. So different to Bethany, who will just ignore the loose tooth for weeks until it falls out of its own accord.
We did lots of stuff these holidays. Celebrated Ella's birthday, including a visit to a new playhouse cafe in Salisbury which everyone enjoyed.

Photo: Lucy having a ball. Geddit? I'm so funny.

Photo: Hard to see, but at the front table, no 29, Ryan, Nicole and Hannah are reading. It's a play cafe guys! You're supposed to PLAY not read!

Photo: Just Bethany doing her thing.

We had Michael visit from Melbourne again which is always a lot of fun. He even cooked dinner (those photos will be appearing on Facebook).

Photo: Sophie and Michael in funny-face mode post dinner cooking

We went rollerskating, cleverly planning for mum and Michael to come with us, so they could help the kids and Nicole and I could just skate like we were cool again.

Photo: Bethany rollerskating

We met my friend Karena in Adelaide for great Greek lunch and saw a Japanese anime which was very good. There was only one slight problem when we sat down to watch and the movie started. In Japanese. Subtitled fortunately but still made it rather boring for poor Hannah and Sophie. I didn't get to see all the movie but I now am quite familiar with the toilets and corridor of the Palace Cinema.
The kids had a cooking class at Regency TAFE. Nicole and I stayed and helped with the younger ones, but Ryan and Bethany were in a longer class with no parents. They really really enjoyed it - they felt so grown up that they got to fry chicken and various other things to do with high temperatures. And the food they made was yummy.
Ryan attended a cartooning workshop at the library, while the girls and I hung out and read books for an hour and a half (a real chore, that).
We went swimming too, at Starplex, where the pool is heated to about 60 degrees (or at least it feels like that!). Just the thing for a freezing cold day. It was good prep for Sophie too, who starts swimming lessons this term. She is sometimes unexpectedly timid, so I'm not sure whether she'll be too scared to get much out of her lessons. But she got very comfortable in the water, even putting her head under a few times.
So it seems like we had busy holidays, but we did have down time too. We managed to fit in much playing of Sims 2 and the Wii, including the newest game, Rayman Raving Rabbits (thanks Mikey, best houseguest ever!), plenty of jumping on the trampoline, and various other fun things. Oh, and also digging a trench, so the pipe that sprung a huge hole could get dug out and replaced. Hooray for friendly plumber neighbours.

I love school holidays. Tomorrow, it's up early, making lunches, getting everyone organised, rushing to school, every day, for another ten weeks... sigh

Monday, July 07, 2008

Wrong numbers

The last two nights I have been dragged out of bed in the middle of the night by the phone for wrong numbers. On Saturday night, I was all warm (finally!), but fortunately not asleep, after getting home late from the movies (Get Smart rocked, even if dinner didn't). I didn't appreciate racing out of bed for the mobile and a 'private number' that hung up when I answered. Thanks for that. And last night, in bed and warm but also not asleep after staying up way too late discussing the foibles of German women, the home phone rang. FIVE times over the course of half an hour from 1130pm, some woman tried to speak to someone who clearly wasn’t me. In the end I was just answering with 'It's still the wrong person' and she finally gave it up. How rude! Because of course when the phone rings the first time you panic - why on earth is someone ringing in the middle of the night? And then to keep ringing in the hopes I have moved out and the correct person is now going to answer is just totally uncalled for. Fortunately this woman's number came up on the Caller ID. I plan to call her tonight at midnight to see how she likes it (well, perhaps not, but I entertained thoughts of calling her at 530am when I got woken up - I bet SHE was sound asleep then!).

Sunday, July 06, 2008

They grow up WAY too fast

Tonight I had 'the talk' with Ryan. I thought it was about time as I'd read somewhere that puberty starts at around age 10 for boys. I was surprised how little he already knew (nothing, actually) about puberty and sex. He said no-one at school talks about it. I guess his friends are all around his age or younger, so perhaps it's just not something that interests them yet. I think I did okay. He listened with interest, with just a little chuckle when I explained the actual mechanics of how a baby is made (and I agree, it's a pretty funny concept!). I also had a book for him called Puberty Boy (which I bought NEW for the daylight robbery price of $29.95) which looks pretty comprehensive. I told him he might find it interesting now, or it might be something he doesn't want to read or think about for a while yet. He was kind of interested but mostly non-committal. That's okay, I've done my motherly duty now. :)
And as we lay in his bed, me watching him absorb the new and interesting information I'd just given him, I cried. My baby is nearly 10. That little boy who would bravely fight sleep at all cost, loved his Cookie Monster toy, wanted to be a paleontologist at age 3, and is still full of the innocence and joy of childhood, is heading always closer to becoming a man. It's cliched and we say it all the time, but where oh where have those TEN years gone?!

I also see the passing of time in Bethany. As well as 'seven being the hardest age' as I've been told, she is having friendship issues at school. It's very hard to see your sweet innocent little girl having to make choices and begin to understand some of the less pleasant aspects of human nature at seven. She has one friend, who some of her other friends are fond of calling 'fatty pants' and teasing in other ways, and she really doesn't know how to handle it. She doesn't want to speak up against her 'cool friends' but she also likes the 'daggy friend'. She is a great pacifier, one who likes to keep the waters smooth and have everyone like her. She doesn't understand why the others would want to be mean, but is really worried if she says something they will be mean to her as well. On a slightly different level, her two closest friends also take turns being friends with her or being mean to her (although to be fair, I suspect she participates in this as well). There's also another girl who is particularly disruptive to the friendship groups, largely due to jealousy I suspect - but how do you explain these concepts to someone who is seven?

And the thing to look forward to? TWO MORE girls who will have to deal with these problems in the years to come. Anyone want to borrow them for about the next 10 or 12 years?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Counting the carbons

Kyle over at Green with a Gun has created a spreadsheet to measure consumption, using a unit of measure he calls the carbon.
His post on it contains all the details, but basically he's averaged out what each person in the world should be consuming (in terms of carbons) and then also crunched a bunch of numbers to work out what all sorts of things are worth in carbons.
It's then relatively straightforward, you put in your numbers for the month and it tells you how you compare to the the rest of the world and also to the ultimate goal, which is carbon-neutral.
I had a look at it tonight and put in some guesstimates for July and we come out at -75 carbons per person for the month. The aim is of course to be at 0 or in the black. Average Western consumption is -1000 carbons, average world wide is -312. So we are not doing too badly at all. But mine are very rubbery estimates, particularly on things like food consumption - I bet that ends up way more than I guessed, when I actually measure it. It will be interesting to see how we track.
Of course, keeping my children malnourished and hypothermic sure helps to keep that carbon expenditure down - I knew there was a reason for it!