September 16, 2014

It's fair time!

Last Sunday we carved some time our of our busy packing schedule to swing by the annual fundraising fair at the Pirates' school.

We'd already handed out fliers, sold raffle tickets, donated gently used books and toys, made jars for the tombola (a term I'd never even heard before now) stall, and whipped up some goodies for the bake sale table, so I was excited to see how everything turned out.

It was a couple of hours into the fair by the time we rocked up, and I was pleased to see it was still busy:

And my baked treats were some of the first ones to be sold! Neener neener.

The Pirates instantly ran to the jumping castle (no surprise)...

Right before they started ordering the big kids around. They have no fear. None. *clutches chest*

...before progressing to an ice cream intermission:

Eventually Pirate Two got bored of ice cream (seriously - whose kid is this?!) and gave it to Pirate One to finish off: 

After a few more rounds on the jumping castle (and a few sausage sandwiches which I've graciously spared you photos of), it was time for the highlight of the day: face painting!

The Pirates have never even seen Spiderman cartoons, but for some reason they're obsessed with the red/black versions from looking at the DVD cover of Spider-Man 3. Go figure.

 Practicing his web hands. No nerds here!

Yay for a successful school fair!

September 13, 2014

Six days

The last few weeks have been bumpy; we received notice that our landlord is selling the house, and we have to move.

To say I was unhappy with this news was putting it mildly.

I'm so over moving. I haven't lived in a single house for longer than a year and a half since I was 18. I'm tired of packing. Tired of moving. Tired of never decorating because "we're just going to move anyway" and viewing sentimental knick knacks as little more than irritating items that'll have to be wrapped in paper and stuffed in a box. Tired of shifting my children from home to home.

We moved to this house with every intention of staying here for at least three years, and I made a conscious effort to get over all of that. I bought artwork and customized decorations to fit specific spaces. I arranged and rearranged until, for the first time in years, I lived somewhere that really felt like a home and not just That Place Where I Sleep.

This house isn't the biggest or the fanciest, but I love it. It has cheerful, sunny rooms and a great location -- just a five minute walk from a kickass playground for the kids, and across the road from a nature reserve filled with winding bike tracks and hiking trails where I love to run. We often look out our front window and see kangaroos lazing in the grass. It's a wonderful house.

And now it looks like this:


I realize there are worse problems to have. We're fortunate to have options -- with a good rental budget (Canberra is EXPENSIVE, yo), we were able to find a nice house in a nice location, and in a district where the boys can still attend their current school next year. And since the rental market has softened a bit since we first came here, we were able to nab a slightly larger place and reduce our rent at the same time. Can't hate on that!

In six days, we move again. 

And things will be ok. We'll adjust, and adapt, and settle into a new home, just like always. But right now? Right now I'm tired. 

September 10, 2014

Darth Vader + Meat

This past Sunday was Father's Day in Australia. I've been here for 12 years, and I still get confused since Mother's Day is the same as it is in the USA, but Father's Day is in September. Weird, right? Moving on...

Earlier that day, the Pirates gave Ben a new shirt...

...and after my race (and a quick shower for yours truly), we headed out for a surprise lunch at Smoque, an American BBQ place he'd been wanting to try.


There was beer and milkshakes...


...and LOTS of food:


We had so much food leftover that we took it home for dinner AND lunch the next day! It doesn't get much better than that for a Benjamin -- Happy Father's Day, honey! 

September 8, 2014

The One to Run

After my last event, I was pretty eager to run a regular (read: non-trail) race, and yesterday brought the Canberra Times Fun Run Adidas 5k.

I prepped the night before with race nails...

Pretty crappy drawing, eh?

...and on the morning of, I had big plans to start the day with a mega healthy I'm A Super Athlete breakfast of Blueberry Lemon Quinoa. Unfortunately it turned into an epic fail, and I ended up ditching it and making oatmeal instead. I still stirred the maple-blueberry-lemon mix into it though, and I have to say it was pretty tasty! Try it sometime!

It also made a crapload. I ate like, maaaaaaybe half of this. Heh. 

And finally -- we were off to the race!

Canberra is a fairly athletic-minded city (the National Institute of Sport is here, after all), and it doesn't tend to give short events a lot of love. There often isn't much information released about them in the event running guides, and sometimes they seem to be organized as an after-thought to the longer runs. For example, this 5k took place on the same day and ended in the same place as the 10k and 14k, but had a different starting location -- which was incredibly inconveniently located on a small side road, and without a handy nearby parking lot.

I was relieved that I had Ben to drop me off as close to the start as possible -- if I had to park way back on the sides road like a lot of the participants, I'd have had to hike about 5k just to get to the starting line! So I was pretty happy when I got out of the car and saw this on the closed road:

Starting line must be pretty close, right?! Yeah, not so much. We had to march a couple of kilometers up the road before I finally saw it in the distance:

Who needs a race? We've already done it.

Since I had about 15 minutes to burn before the race started, I amused myself by taking the obligatory pre-race selfie...


...and photos of the starting area:

You don't see a lot of costumes at Australian races, so I was amused to see this girl dressed up like an ATM (the event is sponsored by a bank, so I'm sure she was an employee):

Not dispensing money, sadly. 

No pics of the first kilometer or so -- for some reason, a ton of walkers had chosen to seed themselves at the front of the starting line instead of the back of the pack, so I spent the first part of the run dodging and weaving around people strolling along. I don't hate on walkers (I often run in intervals, so it's not like I'm pretentious about walking), but damn, people! There's a reason you're supposed to start at the back!

Finally the pack sorted itself out, and we trotted over a little bridge overlooking some kayakers:


The next two kilometers passed quickly, and as we hit the 3km marker, there was a group of rhythmic gymnasts on hand to entertain passing runners:

Pretty, no? 

It's just barely turned to spring but the morning was hotter than predicted, and I started to reeeeeeally regret wearing my running jacket. I didn't want to dump it, and it tends to slip off if I wrap it around my waist, so I sweatily soldiered on and was pretty relieved to round a corner and see what looked like the finish arch in the distance:


Nope. It was a misting arch. Boo! I thought briefly about running through, but decided against it -- last thing I wanted was to start stewing in the humidity of a wet jacket. Blech.


One more corner and I could see the finish line for real -- can you?

By this point I was hot, tired, and frankly a bit over it all.

And then I saw The Hill.

Are you kidding me with this? 

Now, it's not a big hill. Not a steep hill. But seriously, a hill right at the finish line?! UGH.

 Yes, that's a child outrunning me. Your point being?
And yes, another child. Kids are fast, m'kay??? 

Finally I crossed the finish line, and this bad boy was mine... was a new personal record! And for the first time, I finished better than average (540 out of 1278)! 

Sweaty, sticky, stinky...and happy!

August 26, 2014

Mirror, mirror

The only mirror in our house is the one on the medicine cabinet. This means that every morning for the past year, I've had a pretty good idea how my face looks but just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best about the rest. It's bugged me for ages, but it wasn't until last weekend that I finally got off my ass and did something about it.

Australian landlords generally don't allow you to attach things to walls without express consent (it's one of many very restrictive rental rules here that make me crazy), so I couldn't use one of those inexpensive mirrors that can be stuck to a surface -- instead, I needed a full-length mirror that I could hang from an existing hook on a particular wall. And since we're only renting, I didn't want to spend a ton of money on something to fit that specific space.

I finally found something suitable at one of those stores that sell low priced homewares and knock-off goods. The shoddy Baroque styling wasn't my favorite, but it was the right price (read: cheap), would fit the space, and I figured I could funky it up with a can of spray paint.

Here's the before, including yours truly in all my crappy-and-unflattering-painting-clothes and makeup-free glory:

HOT, I know. Try to restrain yourselves.

Then came my least favorite part -- taping off the surface:

Wait no -- THIS was my least favorite part. Ugh. Sanding is the WORST.

And FINALLY, the fun part! I looooove spray painting shit. I have zero patience for letting paint layers dry (which was why I never used oils in my past life as an art student), so the instant gratification of spray paint is right up my alley.

I'd opted for a bright, cheerful yellow:

After one light coat:

After the third and final coat:

And finally, in our home:

It's still not a thing of beauty, but it's bright and cheerful, and I can make sure I don't look like a total hobo before I leave the house, so I'm declaring it a win. Yay for finally having a mirror on the wall!

August 21, 2014

Four things


Portrait of a self-published author. Spoiler: he's a terrible writer, and this is a fascinating piece.


Another literary portrait, this one of a bestselling ghostwriter.


A nice reminder to be grateful in our everyday lives.

[image stolen from here]

Laura Ingalls Wilder's REAL memoir is going to be published! EEEEEEEEEEE!

August 16, 2014

Bowled over

Now that the Pirates are in preschool, birthday party invitations have started coming in thick and fast; this weekend, we went to a party held at a local bowling alley.

The boys had never bowled before, but the prospect of crashing heavy balls into big pins was like catnip. After a little impatient waiting ("Is it our turn yet, Mama?"), our alleys were set up and we got down to business.

One of these days I'll get a genuine smile out of them again, instead of these squinky fake faces. IT WILL HAPPEN, DAMMIT.

After a few ball-flinging crashes, we broke out the ball ramp thingy (yes, I'm sure that's the technical term):

They had a good time bowling - and rocking those stylin' shoes - but were impatient for the main event: CAAAAKE.

A quick lunch of hot dogs an chicken nuggets, and it was finally time for CAAAAKE. Since the party was for a 5-year-old girl, there was only one possible theme:

Speaking of CAAAAKE: you all have read this, yes? If not, go read it. 

They were a little disappointed that it turned out to be chocolate (which neither of them are fond of), but managed to choke down a slice anyway, heh.

In the end, they had such a good time that I think we might have to schedule a family trip to the alley soon!
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