December 13, 2014

Beating the Blerch

A while back, the Oatmeal published this comic about running. It sparked laughter and head nods among runners, spawned a book, and eventually led to the first Beat the Blerch 10k/Half/Full Marathon. Since the Matthew Inman is super cool, he made sure there was a virtual race option available for runners (like yours truly) who wanted to participate but couldn't travel to Washington.

The actual race was held 20-21 September. Since my goal this year was to only race 5ks, I opted for the sensible 10k run and had been carefully training for weeks with the goal of running concurrently with the actual race in the USA.

Unfortunately, we moved right before the race, and I bashed my bad knee hard enough with a heavy piece of furniture that I had to stop running entirely for over a week. It was a month before I could start building my mileage back up, and by then I'd lost all the extra ground I'd gained. So in October, I gritted my teeth and got back to work, slowly adding distance each week with the goal of running that damn 10k before the end of the year.

I finally felt confident enough to schedule it for this morning, and last night I cracked open the virtual run pack - in addition to the finisher's medal, there were a lot of goodies:

I started my usual pre-race ritual of prepping my race bib with pins...and then realized I would be running alone and would look pretty dorky trotting down the road with a race bib. Heh.

But I still slapped on some race nails, of course:

Where did these wrinkly old lady hands come from?! Seriously, when did that happen?

The morning was clear and breezy, and after my last race, I was relieved that it was relatively cool for summer. For once I didn't take any photos of the course I selected, which was actually quite pretty - the second half wound along the scenic Lake Tuggeranong, which made for a nice change from my usual suburb routes.

I slightly misjudged distances and crossed the designated finish line at about 9k, so I had to circle the park for another 1k, but I got there in the end!

And for you Blerchers: yes, there was Nutella (but sadly no birthday cake)!

I'm happy to report that I finished nearly two minutes under my goal time of 1:15:00! If I'd run the actual race, that would have been slightly better than average (about 1:20:00), so I was pretty happy with that result, considering it was my first 10k and I'm a pretty slow runner!

I also want to give a big thank you to my awesome support crew who waited at the finish line with my medal, water, and the all-important Nutella:

I beat the Blerch!

December 11, 2014

Four things

How cool is Tile?! I want to chip everything I own. Hurry up and make it for Android!

My librarian side is impatiently waiting for this octopus cardigan to go on sale, because it is both awesome and overpriced:

1989: America's Malls. The title says it all.

[by Michael Galinsky, stolen from here]

I made these antipasto skewers for a recent potluck at the Pirates' preschool. Kind of a pain in the ass, but totally worth it!

December 8, 2014

Thymbol of the thpirit of Chrithmath

I've mentioned before that real Christmas trees aren't widespread in Australia. Most people use a fake tree, or if they go out and chop down a real one, it tends to be pretty scraggly (*coughcough*). Sure, you can get a real tree if you live in one of the major cities like Sydney and want to put the effort in, but for the most part it's Fake Tree Central.

Christmas is always a hard time of year for me. It's when I feel the distance from my family most keenly, and the difference between this country and where I grew up is never more vast than when Christmas carols are blaring in the middle of summer. Throw in a plastic tree and...well.

All of which was why I was so excited to discover that there are at least three sources for real live Christmas trees in the Canberra area! Thus, this past weekend we got our Griswald on and made plans to get The Tree.

[stolen from here]

It was threatening rain when we loaded everyone into the car, and by the time we arrived it had settled into a steady drizzle...

...which grew heavier...

...and eventually turned into a full blown downpour as Ben sawed down the Chosen One:

We managed to keep the Pirates mostly dry, but he and I were soaked to the skin by the time we hightailed it out of there with the tree strapped securely to the roof of the car. We shoved the tree in a bucket of water and left it to dry out a bit in the garage overnight before moving it into the house the next day to start decorating.

Because traditions must be observed:

Can you believe that the only tree lights I could find (after visiting multiple stores) had a white cord? WHITE. CORD. I'm not one of those people who gets their panties in a bunch over having The Perfect Tree, but damn - there was no way that thing wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb.

I wound it through the branches anyway before diving into the ornaments:

I love our ornaments. We have very few generic ones - instead, we each get to pick out one new ornament every year, and the result is a colorful, sentimental hodgepodge:

And you guys? It isn't the prettiest tree I've ever had. But it's REAL. Every time I walk by and get a whiff of pine, I smile.

It's going to be a good Christmas!

December 6, 2014


Pirate One loves having his nails painted. He loves choosing a color from my box of polishes and watching me carefully apply it to his tiny nails.

Last night he had a disco at daycare, and when I laughingly asked if he wanted special nails, he excitedly shouted "Yes!"...and then his face crumpled, and he tearfully told me that the kids at preschool tease him because he wears "girl nail polish".

And my heart broke, because he's FOUR. This shit shouldn't ever matter, but especially not at this age.

So we talked about how silly it is to call someone a girl as an insult, and I showed him some photos of rock stars and athletes with nail polish. Then he cheerfully picked out this glitter polish (and a coordinating blue for his thumbnails) to wear to the party tonight:

And we laughed as I put it on, but I felt a little sad too, because I know this time of not caring about how the world sees you (of *knowing* you're innately cool no matter what you like) is nearly at an end, and our little nail painting sessions probably will be as well. I knew this day would come, but it still makes me sad that my little boy is already under so much pressure to stop doing something he enjoys.

Ignore them and rock your polish for as long as you want, my super cool painted pirate!

December 4, 2014

Circus time!

A few weeks ago, flyers for the Bite-Sized Circus were dropped off at the Pirates' preschool:

We promptly booked some ringside tickets and eagerly awaited the big day. When it finally arrived last weekend, we rocked up to the itty bitty tent... our hands stamped...

...and found some ringside seats near the exit, since Ben was under the weather and worried he'd have to make a rapid exit (which thankfully didn't happen). I'm glad we sat so close, although the entire event was so small you'd have had a pretty good view from just about anywhere:

It was a horribly hot and humid day, and the Pirates rapidly started getting cranky while waiting for the entertainment to start. We bribed them with balloon swords, which kept them entertained until the show got underway:

The handful of performers started off with some trick jump-roping and wire walking...

...before moving on to the hula hoops, which the boys were VERY impressed by:

But what really stunned them was the juggling:

They couldn't believe he was throwing around real (heh) swords:

After a few more tricks... was time for the big juggling finale:

Heat and humidity notwithstanding, it was a pretty fun little event, and the boys were thoroughly impressed by the performers. Yay for the (mini) circus!

December 1, 2014

Natural-born scientists

We recently introduced the Pirates to old Bill Nye the Science Guy episodes on YouTube, and they were instantly smitten. They walk around singing the theme song and constantly pester us to watch more. So when they asked me last week if they could "do some science", I wasn't hugely surprised.

Since it was a nice day, I told them we could be "nature scientists" and we gathered up some supplies and headed into the backyard.

One of the best toys we've bought for the Pirates are some big magnifying glasses - they spend ages examining objects with them (and therefore keeping out of my hair, heh).

We looked at trees...


...and flowers...

...before finally settling on a small army of ants eating a worm. Because of course.

The Pirates drew pictures of the action and carefully wrote descriptions of what was happening:

It's science, baby!

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