September 28, 2012

In for a win and a place...

[Picture: Google Images]


I am one of the last of the big time gamblers. NOT. The ten bucks I usually spend on The Melbourne Cup in November is the full extent of gambling I ever do. And that's more about having a bit of fun with friends in Cup Lunch sweep then any desire to take a punt. Possibly because I don't want to take the risk that I might lose! Perhaps if I was blessed with a bank balance that could stand to lose a few bucks I might feel differently, but it's just never been high on my radar of fun things to do. I don't play the pokies, buy scratchies, play Lotto, OzLotto, Powerball or any of those kinds of things for the same reason.


However.


When it comes to fundraising for something I really care about, then I will buy tickets in raffles and lucky dips with the best of them. I love supporting a good cause. And this includes going to a rugby trip fundraising race day like the one I attended yesterday in the far reaches of western Sydney. Who'd miss a chance to get dressed up and go out for lunch? Not me, that's for sure.



I thought I looked fascinating enough without the fiddly headpiece!


I know next to nothing about betting on horses, something which became fairly obvious to me after casting an eye over the race book. I'm sure all those numbers mean something, right? The full extent of my equestrian expertise is limited to how nice the horse looks as it parades around the ring before racing, the colours of the jockey's silks or whether or not the horse's name resonates with me at all.



This would explain my exorbitant bets of $2.50 each way on horses such as Our Happy Hearts (jockey had gorgeous blue and white silks, same colours as our rugby boys),  Rad (Well, DUH - and he was too, he won!), Showpony Express (you'd have to love a horse with a name like that, wouldn't ya?) and Don't Put It There (this name was the cause of a running joke at our table, very funny).



Tools of the trade!


The highlight of my day though was winning a bar fridge chock full of alcohol! I know, right?! This NEVER happens to me. But I'm so thrilled it did this time. It was one of those 'buy a key and if yours unlocks the padlock, you get the contents AND the fridge' kind of deals. I bought three keys, easily the best return on any bet I had all day. The timing of this win could not be better - we have two football code grand finals this weekend (AFL & NRL) not to mention my All Blacks are playing Argentina on Saturday as well. She looks, she shoots, she SCORES!!


Cue a rather shocked looking winner...


As you can imagine, I had a great day spent in the company of some wonderful people. The Provider was very impressed with my 'winnings' and has already eyed off several of the contents for consumption this coming weekend. Personally, I think the bottle of champagne in there has my name written all over it.



Have you been to the races recently? What's the best thing about the day? And what's the most unusual horses name you've ever heard?


September 24, 2012

Music for Monday...

I've always been a small-town girl. I like to think it's the permanent imprint of New Zealand sending my heart a little reminder of where I came from every now and then. So I guess it must seem odd that this small-town girl lives in the bustling city - albeit in the heart of suburbia in Sydney's north west - and has done so for over 25 years.



I've been thinking a lot about that lately. And becoming more than a little restless too. I imagine it's because I'm becoming less enamoured of the 'positives' of city living that I loved so much when I first moved here. Needs and wants change, don't they? One thing I know for sure is my yearning for a life less impacted by the constant 'rush-rush' of city living is becoming a stronger and more strident voice in my head. Most days, it doesn't shut up.



I have a dream of living somewhere like this:




Look at all that SPACE. My boys would be in sheer heaven. 




Plenty of room for a set of rugby posts here!




And look at that verandah - what a great place for a quiet cuppa in the afternoon or morning sun. Ahhhh, the serenity! I can totally see me living in a place like this. 



One day, hopefully not too far away, The Provider and I can look for another piece of paradise and finally start to realise the benefits of living with wide open space all around. Somewhere to shut the 'rush-rush' noise out for a bit. Our sanctuary from chaos. I'd really like my boys to experience that too.



Today's song choice is a favourite of mine from John Mellencamp - Small Town.


Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in a small town
Oh that's prob'ly where they'll bury me





[Images from http://www.realestate.com.au]

September 21, 2012

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

Oh help me, God.


I spent the last afternoon of child-free bliss (school holidays are now officially on) doing a bit of shopping. More specifically some clothes shopping - for me - something I haven't done in a long time. Tomorrow night I'm going out with the girls so I thought I'd head on up to Target and grab myself a new pair of jeans for the occasion. Just because.






So I'm scouring the racks and find a couple of pairs that look like the business. Next stop, the fitting room. Duh duh DUH!



In I go, my plastic counter in the shape of a '2' from the attendant clutched in one hand, the two pairs of jeans in the other. I hang the jeans on the hook and start to unzip my chinos. One leg out, then two. I turn to reach for the first pair of denim and then -- *gasp* -- I catch a glimpse of orange-peel thigh and sagging less-than-perky buttocks. Oh God. I really wish I hadn't seen that. But it's like a train wreck, my eyes can't look away, all the while despairing ever-so slightly.



It's hard to miss, isn't it? All the perceived flaws of your body, perfectly reflected back at you in multi-mirrored splendour. And in that ugly, unflattering light all fitting rooms seem to use. It's pretty tough: once you're inside those cubicles, the naked truth about the state of what's going on behind you is undeniable. It's a wonder we shop at all, really.



So what's my truth, you may ask? Let me put it to you like this: the backs of my thighs and butt resemble a modern-day cellulite city. A metropolis that is not only busy but extends to a sprawling expanse of suburbia. And everyone has orange trees in their backyard. It's like a freaking ORCHARD back there.





Did you know that over 90% of women have cellulite? I didn't. So I'm not alone with an orchard problem. I usually don't dwell on it too much but seeing it in the cold, hard light of the fitting room was hard to ignore today. Because I DO exercise, I DO have a healthy diet and I'm not an overly large person, so it's frustrating. If I'm lucky, one day someone will invent a pill to get rid of it and I'll be free at last! *heavenly choir sings*



But back to the fitting room. Remember? Me getting depressed after seeing that orchard? Two words, people: RETAIL THERAPY. I ended up buying BOTH pairs of jeans for the absolute bargain price of $40.00. I know, right? Gorgeous jeans for a measly $20.00 bucks each? How could I resist?



And here's the upshot of the story: I may have a dimpled rear end but it looks fucking FABULOUS encased in denim! And me and my fabulous tush will be shaking our collective tail feathers with all the beautiful girlies tomorrow night. Truth be damned!




What sort of truths do you face in the fitting room? Or are you part of the 10%? 


[Images from illustrator.com]

September 17, 2012

Music for Monday....


This is what Relaxed Man looks like:




Note the three day growth and the ease with which he is smiling. There's no stress there, baby.
 





Yes, our Provider is back, filled with tales of fishing adventure and life with 11 other blokes out on the open seas. From all accounts the fishing was fantastic, the results of which were filleted, bagged and packed in boxes for The Provider to bring home to our freezer. We're all enjoying having him back although this means my nights of reading for hours in bed will now be curtailed somewhat!



So today's music choice is all about coming home. About how good it is to see your family and friends. To sleep in your own bed. To be surrounded by those who love you for who you are, without blame or prejudice. It's the best place in the whole world.



I love this piece of music. My thoughts run free every time I listen to it. See how you go: here's the brilliant Mark Knopfler's "Going Home (Local Hero Theme)". Enjoy your Mondays, people.







September 16, 2012

I should be reading the morning papers right now...

It's Sunday morning and I'm up already, showered, dressed and breakfasted. And all before 7.30am.


This, I might add, is a VERY rare occurrence for a Sunday. The ONE day I get to sleep in.


The reason for this? We have Son#2's rugby presentation day at 10am but first, I have to drive for an hour and a half to pick him up from a rugby league camp. Because that's what mothers of boys who play two winter sports do, right? Uh huh. Yes, we do.




But it's not so bad. Sydney has put on a cracker of a day so far, blue skies and cool (but not icy) temps with the promise of more warmth as the day goes by. Spring weather at its best.


I will be among the beautiful rugby folk today, where no doubt the talk will turn to the results of the two international games last night. The All Blacks and the Wallabies came away the nights two victors. I was a pretty happy camper seeing the Men in Black prevail yet again, with my favourite player Richie McCaw having another impressive game, despite copping an forearm to the face. They don't call him Captain Fantastic for nothing.



Happy Sunday!



What have you got planned for the day? 


September 13, 2012

The Main Man...

If I was a cynic, I'd swear that The Provider planned this passage of events all along to limit the amount of damage I might do this week!



Because he's away. Fishing with the boys off the Top End somewhere and undoubtedly having the time of his life. Which will have to pause for a second when he gets close enough to land (and phone reception) to receive my lengthy text message.






Because like Houston, we do indeed have a problem.



I was visiting sports physio Andy the other afternoon with Son#2. We've seen Andy a fair bit this year, to the point we're now friends on first-name basis. Son#2 had tackled a boy of South Pacific origin during a school rugby league game... a boy much, MUCH larger than himself. He copped a very heavy knock above the knee for his trouble, resulting in his knee swelling up to resemble one from a contestant on the Biggest Loser, pre-weight loss. All I can say is thank God the grand final was last week!




I took a look and very quickly decided we needed Andy's professional opinion just to be sure (knee is fine, no ligament damage, just very bruised and will be okay in a couple of weeks). Strolling out to reception to sort the paper work, I automatically handed over my credit card to settle our account. "Oh, I'm sorry," the 20-something receptionist says a few moments later, "it's says it's been declined."



WOT CHOO TALKIN' 'BOUT, WILLIS??



I think my shock at this news must have been fairly apparent. "I'll try it again," she said rather quickly, "sometimes it's the line. It drops out every now and then." I'm standing there trying not to notice the packed reception area behind me and feeling my pulse rate elevate by the second. Why does it suddenly seem so quiet when you're in these situations? AGAIN my card was declined. WTF? It was nothing short of a miracle that I had enough cash in my wallet (a very rare occurrence) to pay. My only other option would've been leaving one of the boys as collateral! Two steps out of there, I was on the phone.






Turns out our card had been scammed. Some lowlife had tried to use it to buy flights on United Airlines and Philippines Air that same day so the bank had quite rightly blocked it, which was why it kept coming up as declined. We'd need to have new cards issued as the old card was now compromised. Okay, great, let's do that, I said. There was just one problem - The Provider is the main account holder, not me, so they needed to speak to him before they could do this.



Oh, FFS.



I can't fault my bank, they did what they should have. And the lady I spoke to was extremely sympathetic, explaining that if I needed to use the card urgently to just call, they'd unblock it so I could use it, then re-block it afterward. But we'd still have to wait for The Provider to come home to sort it out properly, once and for all.



It's such a pain in the arse. And feels rather Victorian. And of course this would happen while my other half is totally incommunicado, wouldn't it? I was able to make other arrangements for money so it's not like we're destitute until he returns but my inner self who is TOTALLY capable of running her own life was feeling a bit put out. She doesn't need a husband to 'handle' things! *indignant snort* Anyone who knows us realises that this is soooo not the way our life together is.  



But rules are rules. And when The Provider is home on Friday we will deal with that particular dumb rule then. As well as addressing the 'main' cardholder thing. Can you have 'joint' cardholders? Or perhaps I should just have my own card as well... you know, just for emergencies? That'd fix that. Hee hee.




Have you ever had your credit card number scammed? What happened? How helpful was your bank?

September 10, 2012

Music for Monday...

Looking around my neighbourhood this morning, it is pretty obvious that spring has sprung. Garden beds are groaning with bright coloured flowers, clipped hedges are green and lush, trees covered in new buds are sprouting new tufts of colour.








It was a perfect morning for Spencer and I to set off for a morning walk after the school drop off. I am trying to get into a routine of walking every day, even if it's only for half an hour. Spencer is a very keen participant, which greatly helps me in the motivation stakes! Although I wish I could do what HE does when we get back:





And so to today, which brings me to the other reason for this post - Music for Monday. It took me a while to decide on the song for today but then I stumbled across this and it really spoke to me. I defy anyone not to toe-tap while they're listening to it. This song even sounds like spring... click play and see if you agree. For you gals born after 1980, this is an oldie but worth giving up 1 minute and 54 seconds of your time. I used to play this on the radio when I was an announcer circa the mid-1980's (showing my age here, ahem!) and I believe it still resonates today - Simon & Garfunkel's "Feelin' groovy".





Have a great Monday, everyone!

September 7, 2012

Gone fishing...

Source: The Age


After months of waiting, that person reeling it in will soon be The Provider. Around this time tomorrow, he will be living his version of Bloke's Paradise: a fishing rod in hand, a cold beer in the other, all the time in the world and plenty of other mates alongside to discuss the questions of Life and the Universe, repeating as necessary.


He'll be away for the entire week, deep-sea fishing in a spot about six hours off the coast of Darwin. No land is visible by the time they reach the fishing grounds; just miles and miles of Timor Sea surrounding them. Not my idea of bliss (no room service, restaurants or shopping out there for starters!!) but for The Provider, this is his idea of heaven.


I spoke to him briefly before he boarded the plane this morning and I could hear a relaxed tone already creeping into his voice. It's one that hasn't been there for a while, let me tell you. Life has been so frenetic of late, we've sometimes struggled to keep up. As his moniker might suggest, he works incredibly long hours to make sure we are all taken care of. And we are certainly that. Adding to his workload is a list of other people with demands on his time as well. It's felt like a never-ending list lately. Stress has been a regular companion.


Slipping into holiday mode... and it fits like a glove!


So being the good wife that I am, I have encouraged (read: insisted) he take this time away. Through my own experience I know there are times when you simply must leave the daily grind behind to enable a rediscovery of your own sense of self. It gets lost in the day-to-day sometimes, constantly drowned out by the cacophony of deadlines and demands from everything around you.


The Provider's address for the week - Source


Gorgeous sunset - Source

But don't worry that it's just HIM having all the fun. I have a few things organised for my week too, including an upcoming appointment for a facial and massage, plus I have a sneaking suspicion I may squeeze in a few lunches and/or coffees with the girls too. Now that's what *I* call heaven.



How do you like to unwind and de-stress? Does your other half like to fish like mine? What do they do during their down time? 

September 6, 2012

Real men don't eat quiche...

What a thankless task cooking the family meal can be sometimes. Know what I mean?




When I was growing up, you generally weren't given a choice about what was for dinner. Mum had the one meal organised for everyone and that was pretty much that. If you didn't like it, you had to lump it (or make your own dinner). Now that I am a parent, I think the Groovy Grandma was definitely on to something. Because in my experience,  as soon as you give people a choice, you open yourself up to all KINDS of trouble.



"Aww, I don't want meat!"

"I want meat!"

"Why can't we have pasta?"

"I wish I was at *insert friend's name* house - his mother makes the BEST food."

"Is that dinner?"



Or how's this from Mr 23 yesterday, after he saw what I had left for him and his father in the fridge. I was with Son #2 at a rugby get together after our grand final, so very kindly (I thought) organised dinner for the remaining occupants.

"I don't really consider quiche and salad as being 'dinner', Mum."



Uh, say what??



"Darling boy," I said. "I would be THRILLED if someone left me quiche and a green salad for dinner... especially after enduring a 28 degree day! It's perfect hot weather food!" He wasn't convinced. Pity.



I left him browsing the freezer compartment for what we call around here, a 'box dinner'. As in 'you open box, put contents in oven for select amount of time, then eat'. As for the rest of us? We ate the quiche and salads (green salad, freshly made coleslaw and tabouli). Yum, yum. They were absolutely delicious.



God knows what I will make for them all tonight, though.




What are your family like when it comes to dinner? Who decides what you're eating? And why can't I have a personal chef like Oprah does? 



September 3, 2012

Music for Monday...



If you are lucky, there may be a time during your children's sporting lives when they are part of a team who manage to win a premiership. They will have played their hearts out all season, survived the do-or-die rounds of quarter and semi-finals, and gone on to reign victorious in the grand final. The cups and medals will sit proudly on their bookshelves as a tangible reminder. It's an achievement most kids remember with much fondness for years to come.



And if you are very, very lucky, this awesome aligning of the planets may actually happen to you twice in a row. What happens next is an overwhelming explosion of emotion that floods your body in varying amounts, a mixture of immense pride, relief, excitement and/or happiness. Whatever you might call it, I can safely say with the utmost of accuracy that it feels PRETTY DAMN GOOD.

Winners are grinners!



Check out the totally rapt Mr 14 and his ecstatic mother after his team won their Under 14's rugby union grand final on the weekend, making them back-to-back Premiers. In a game that went right down to the very wire (grand finals have a habit of being like this, don't they?) our boys fought hard to come home in front, 26-19. Congratulations to all the boys involved AND their parents - it has been well worth all the early mornings and miles driven to finish the season with such a great result.



Given the events of the weekend,  there was really only one song that could be today's Music for Monday song choice, no prizes for guessing what it is:  



Queen: "We are the champions" -  Click play and turn it up! Happy Monday, everyone!






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