April (I want a medal)

Life with teenagers is always interesting - although perhaps that's not the most apt word. Particularly for us during this last week where my oldest daughter turned 18 with all the obligatory festivities - including a family get-together where certain members hadn't seen each other for 14 years and would have happily continued that way. And why does the newly-minted 18-year old get all the congratulations? All she did is get older (which is something my mirror tells me I'm doing effortlessly at a rapid rate), whereas I'm the one who kept her (a) alive, (b) relatively normal, and (c) reasonably educated and trained in basic social norms. I mean, just feeding and hydrating a child is a never-ending task, let alone coping with the addition of a third basic need once puberty is reached - and I'm talking about the accoutrements here. You know, like mobiles, ipods, and the need to be draped in appropiately labelled clothing at all times.
But this week was made even more challenging by the fact she was getting her hair professionally coloured for her party, something she'd been looking forward to for months. Well, I don't know what happened but an attractive young lady with bouncy, light brown hair (with some blonde highlights) entered the salon but, three hours later, what emerged looked like a street-walker. And a physically ill one at that.
The colour could best be described as 'Platinum Mildew Ash', except that I'm guessing they would then get few takers (in fact I suspect she was the first anyway). Overall, it was a dead, flat platinum, with a hint of old-woman grey and some pond-green tinges whenever it caught the light. Have I mentioned that this particular offspring is quite a pale child? Well, now she looked like a corpse. And not a particularly fresh one either.
As you can imagine this event was followed by several days of varying degrees of loudly articulated fury (okay, that was mainly me), interspersed with a litany of muttered angst (that was her). But anybody who has spent time with an unhappy teenager will have some idea what the atmosphere is our house was like. And if you're wondering why we didn't go back to the salon - we did. And I have to say they were very supportive and didn't charge anything for the further three hours spent putting in a quantity of lovely honey-brown foils that were meant to give some depth but were almost immediately consumed by the Platinum Mildew Ash. I have never seen a hair colour so voracious. It should be launched onto the stock market forthwith - it'd devour Wall Street (and all those greedy CEO's) overnight. So anyway the salon was a waste of time because despite their best efforts, back home I went, still accompanied by the manic-depressive corpse bride.
The situation was eventually (somewhat) resolved by an emergency run to the supermarket for hair-dye but I can tell you it was a stressful few days. So congratulate her? Huh! I should get a bloody medal.

April (and the dates are set...)

Well, it's semi-official: Kokoda 2010 (formerly known as Kokoda 2009 etc etc) will take place during the latter half of the July school holidays next year. These dates are the result of carefully calculated compromises - and a three-and-a-half-minute chat at the end of the recent Run For The Kids. I recommend a similar strategy for any potentially volatile discussion because everyone is too breathless to actually discuss (or argue), and far more likely to settle just so that they can lean back and eat grapes (see earlier post).
But the dates do seem to suit everyone: the school-teachers (2), the mothers of young childdren (2), the ones who need to book their leave twelve months in advance (2), the ones who need operations and time to recover (3), and the ones who really don't care so let's just get on with it (2 1/2). My only concern is that July is at the earlier end of the Papua New Guinea dry season, and I hope that doesn't mean there will be some overlapping wetness. Which sounds disgusting and, I'm guessing, feels even worse.
On a brighter (but still fairly damp as it was drizzling) note, this morning Cathri and I met the newest member of our group, Annie. She had just completed the 1000 steps with a group of friends and they were off to have a leisurely brunch at Knox City. So, with that finely tuned combination of energy and sloth, it sounds like she'll fit in perfectly!

April (Happy Easter!)

I was enjoying a wonderful Easter Sunday until I made the mistake of stepping on the scales. This still would have been fine if I had just kept my eyes closed and thus not realised that somehow I've managed to put back on the entire two and a bit kilos I'd lost since last year - and yes, I know it wasn't much but it was all I had, or hadn't. The worst thing is that I've got no-one to blame but myself. For some reason I gave myself permission a few weeks ago to start eating copious amounts of anything and everything, and I haven't stopped since. Chocolate clinkers with their crispy pastel centres, caramel and pecan biscuits, hot cross buns with lashings of melted butter, chilli and sour cream crackers, crumbly vintage cheese and slithers of shaved triple-smoked ham... the list goes on (and on). Of course Easter hasn't helped. All that chocolate. So little time.
The result of this unrestrained gluttony is that while going for a walk this morning I realised that my thighs weren't just rubbing together, they were clinging to each other lovingly. Like identical twins that resent being separated, even for a moment. Apart from the fact that the time is long past when that sort of attitude might have come in handy, it was damn uncomfortable. So, feeling rather motivated by the whole thigh thing, I gave my daughter's Wii Fit a try - only to be told, rather perfunctorily, that I was obese. Not mildly plump, or even a trifle on the fat side, but obese! To add insult to injury, the bloody thing then issued me with a little representative figure on the screen that was as round as it was tall. I looked like a less-colourful version of one of the M & M men.
Needless to say I have given up on the Wii Fit until it injects itself with a modicum of etiquette. But clearly something has to be done. And tomorrow seems like a good day to start because it's a Monday, and Mondays are always terrific for fresh starts. So common sense tells me if that's the case, I'd better go and finish all my Easter eggs tonight. Happy Easter!

April (Walk Briskly for the Kids)

Everything hurts.
And I mean everything. I am a mass of soreness from head to toes, and feel chafed in places I didn't even know existed. But, amongst the pain, there beats (albeit sluggishly) the heart of an achiever - because today I started, and finished, the Run for the Kids. Or in my case, the Walk Briskly and Occasionally Break into a Light and Somewhat Desperate Stagger-like Jog for the Kids.
It all started a few months ago when Leanne asked if anyone wanted to join her in this year's Run for the Kids. Apart from being for a good cause (the Good Friday appeal), it could be part of our training. With some recollection of seeing it on the news in previous years, embedded within hazy images of sunshine and camaraderie and general joviality, I quite happily agreed. Besides, back in January, April seemed a lifetime away. And I didn't bother mentioning the whole thing on the blog because, to be honest, it really didn't seem like a particularly big deal.
Tell that to my thighs, and ankles, and arms, and back. Tell that to me. I must admit though, that I did start to get a sense of the enormity of the task when, yesterday, I looked it up on the internet for some background information. 14.1 kilometres. Over bridges and under tunnels. 30,000 participants. Road closures. Toilets on the back of trucks. Time limits.
After a few moments of stupefaction, I tried to worm my way out of the whole thing but Cathri talked me into at least giving it a go. So at six o'clock this morning I rose from uneasy slumber and took some Berocca to give me B-B-Bounce (because I sure as hell can't R-R-Run). Then I also took some vitamin D and fish oil and echinacea for no other reason but that they were there and I thought they couldn't hurt. The more the merrier.
The fish oil may have come in handy for the train ride anyway, because we were packed in like sardines. To be disgorged at Flinders Street station amongst a throng of others, all dressed in running gear and all heading with varying degrees of enthusiasm towards the start of the run. Somehow I found Cathri, Donna, Leanne and Leanne's friend, Robyn (from left to right in the photo, with me second from right), and we joined the mass exodus. A veritable flood of people, all looking decidedly more fit and confident than me (or so it seemed).
Apart from a mass of lycra and leggings (some on bodies which one would not normally associate with lycra and/or leggings), there were runners dressed as storm troopers and over-sized rabbits and fairies. Even with my rapidly mushrooming trepidation, I had to admit it made for a great atmosphere. Thirty minutes later, with my dodgy knee wrapped tightly, we all shuffled up to the start area and, with the help of Steve Moneghetti, counted down to 'go'! Then we waited a further fifteen minutes to actually get moving. Even after that we only shuffled along for a while, which suited me perfectly, but then it was on.
Now I won't bore you with all the details. Suffice to say I had to veer off the course at the first pit stop and was left behind by the others (just as well we never went to war when we were in the Army Reserves together), and when I got going again I was about number 29,996 out of 30,000 people. So I could only improve (if one discounts the 4 people behind me, that is). So what else? Well, walking by myself was quite nice but I was also relieved to catch up with Cathri and Donna about five kilometres later. And the view from the top of the Bolte Bridge was lovely, but not worth the ascent. And apparently I can jog with my injured knee, but boy it hurts when I stop. And Leanne is fitter than the rest of us, but we all finished so what the hell. And, lastly, those free grapes after a 14.1 kilometre walk/jog/run taste better than anything on earth.
So I did it. In a time of 2 hours, 23 minutes and 16 seconds. Number 6886 out of all the females. And it doesn't seem to matter so much now that I can't move any faster than a hobble, or that every bone in my body is having a personal tussle with surrounding muscle. Or that my side is actually bruised from where my pack kept slapping me. Or that I know I'm going to spend the next few days devouring pain tablets just to keep going. Or that... doesn't matter. I did it.

April (Fool's Day)

This morning my precious (and I use the term loosely) son rang me at work and breathlessly informed me that his sister's school had just called to say she'd collapsed and been taken to hospital. Now I am pretty good under pressure, if I say so myself, so after a muted gasp, I calmly stood and told him I'd take care of it while I did a mental check to see what meetings I'd have to cancel etc. That's when he chortled gleefully and declared 'April Fool's Day!' Now I'll pause here while every parent reading this takes a collective gasp. Yes, that's right - he thought it was funny. Not just funny, but absolutely jaw-breakingly hysterical.
Suffice to say we had words and he rang off, rather miffed at my lack of humour. I really think he imagined that I would immediately chuckle appreciatively and then congratulate him at length on a brilliant prank. I didn't. Not even close. Now, just in case anybody is picturing this crestfallen little boy standing by the phone, and thinks I was rather harsh on the poor little mite, let me add the following information - my son is 26 years old. An adult male. So I think I am entirely justified in saying that the only family member who was at risk of hospitilisation today was him.
As a direct result, to calm my nerves (and my fury), I demolished several chocolate biscuits, one blueberry muffin, most of my lunch (even though it was only nine-thirty in the morning), and a piece of something that looked like a Danish but tasted rather odd. And I'd been thinking about being really good this week too. Bloody hell. Who'd have kids?
PS: I'm serious. It's not a rhetorical question at all. Because if anyone's interested, I've got an offer you can't refuse. One mostly house-trained 26-year old with a warped sense of humour. Going cheap.