Hello 16 year old me

I have been with Grimace for roughly 12 1/2 years – Grimace comes from a motorcycling family, and as such I think he pretty much grew up on one. In the time I’ve been with him, I have never been in control of a moving vehicle, other than the car, my mountain bike or the pram (it counts, right?!). I’ve happiy pillioned (??spelling?) with him, and loved it. I’ve been a passenger with him on an ATV, and loved it. 
Well, today was the first time I have ridden a motorcycle. 

Today, I fronted up at the Sydney International Regatta Centre (at Penrith) at the lovely time of 6:40am to undertake the pre-learners motorcycle training course. And, of course it was teeming with the wet stuff. With no idea what to expect, I clumsily walked into the classroom (turns out the wrong classroom initially) slurping my coffee. I actually wasn’t even sure if I would get to touch a motorcycle on the first day, rather be stuck in the classroom running through the theory. The only things I knew for certain were I didn’t want the humiliation of dropping the bike, hitting another participant’s bike, or worse, running the instructor over.

Settling in with the 4 other course participants, it became abundantly clear that I was the least experienced person in the group – almost all the others have either had their licence previosuly, or grown up using dirt bikes or quad bikes. The instructor was a lovely guy, but a guy who you knew was also a strict rule-follower. If you didn’t or couldn’t follow a direction/rule,  it was clear that you weren’t going to be able to continue. As such, I was concentrating, hard. 

It turns out, the first day involves a lot of time on a bike – I felt comfortable mounting the bike, grabbing the brake and throwing the leg over. I felt comfortable sitting on it – all those times of playing with Giggles Magoo on Grimace’s bike were actually helping me. Grimace used to commute to work on a little Honda 125 – and park it on our front verandah. Climing all over it and pushing all the buttons were clear favourites for Giggles Magoo when he was younger. I have also watched Grimace move approximately ONE THOUSAND bikes and was pretty comfortable holding the clutch in.

What I wasn’t comfortable with, was the whole moving part. The throttle is so sensitive, and I just kept thinking I was definitely going to do something wrong, like run the instructor over (it really didn’t help that he kept standing close to me and directly in my path).  I was immediately overwhelmed with those horrible feelings of inadequacy and failure; laughing at myself for even thinking I could do this. I was also mostly just wondering how anyone can actually coordinate all of the things, whilst following the road rules and concentrating on the other vehicles around them to stay alive, let alone ride! Trying to piece together all the required tasks and movements to ride the motorcycle took me right back to 16 year old me when Dad was teaching me how to drive the (manual) car.

Doused in my motorcycle gear (thank goodness Grimace had reminded me to take my own stuff – borrowd helmet and gloves….ewwwww), I had clear visions of 16/17 year old me freaking out about all the tasks a manual driver needs to do – clutch, brake, accelerator, indicators, mirrors, remembering to keep looking ahead, moving of eyes and head, etc etc. I remembered feeling so stupid and out of depth; like I was never going to be able to learn how coordinate it all. I remember stalling. I remember stalling on a very busy major arterial road at peak hour and getting out of the car (in the right-hand lane), refusing to to it again. I remember being ‘gently’ reminded by my dad that you have to fail to succeed. That you have to make those mistakes to get it right, and that you just need to keep trying. I also remembered telling my beautiful Dad to F**k Off, as he was a terrible teacher – turns out he wasn’t (angst-ridden me was the terrible learner!). I’m quite a good driver now, relaxed and alert. I quite like driving places I have never been and reverse parking is not an issue for me. Obviously over time, it all just became a habit, and the mind plays a part in pre-empting what I need to do, without really thinking about it. 

I was suddenly so grateful for that experience as a 16/17 year old overwhelmed driver, and grateful for being confronted with the memory of learning at the exact moment in time that I needed to be reminded.I recognised those “I won’t be able to do this; people are going to laugh at me/doubt me and expect me to fail” thoughts and was able to put my pragmatic mind to good use – yes, maybe this isn’t for me, but you know what, keep giving it a go. If the instructor is happy for me to keep going, I must be doing something right. And you know what – I even got into second gear without knocking anyone (or a bike) over!

Day 2 of the course is tomorrow morning – after day 2, I’m supposedly able to sit the motorcycle riding test. I’m just hoping my second time on a bike goes in a similar direction to the first. 

Happy rainy Thursday xx

Making & a-baking

I’ve blogged before about Theverymoodyhousehold attemtping to reduce our waste. Grimace is always inspired with new ways to help achieve the reduction, and this week is no different. Each day both he and I take a muesli bar to snack on at work – I know, I know, not the best snack food in terms of health and equally as terrible in environmental impact as each bar creates waste – being individually wrapped in a non-recyclable material. Each day that means we contribute to unnecessary landfill. 

Last night I found myself making Tuesday night’s dinner, so while I was waiting for the oven to do it’s thing, I remembered Grimace’s resolve to make our own muesli bars (he was incidentally out rescuing a poor guy who had his motorbike break down at the train station…Grimace being a knight in shining armour went to save the day *cough cough* van-that-can-take-said-broken-down-motorbike-to-shop-to-get-repaired and gain another happy customer). 

I have previously been quite a mad baker, but since the onset of child number 2, I’ve struggled to make time for it. Doing a little research (and I do quite literally mean little. I went to one website), I found a recipe, altered it to meet my lazy requirements and smashed out some delicious bars – Grimace doesn’t eat chocolate (weird, I know) so I substituted a low-carb mix of nuts and dried fruit that we had in my overloaded pantry, added a whole heap more cinammon, and used only honey (no maple syrup). I also couldn’t be bothered cleaning the food processor, so kept all the nuts and fruit completely whole; I was a little worried the mix would be crumbly…it wasn’t!

I was so proud pulling them out to eat today – home baked products always bring the goods, and in this case, there wasn’t any packaging to throw away. Anyway, if you want to play along at home, there are approximately one trillion websites out there that provide delicious and easy recipes, but I do really like One Handed Cooks – their recipes are always easy to make and REALLY easy to vary depending on what you have or don’t have in the cupboard/flavours your fam-bam prefers.

What are some of your delicious snacks that you make up in bulk and freeze? I’m fast-forwarding 18 months when school lunches will be a thing for us, and thinking that if I can introduce good habits now, it won’t come as such a shock to provide all the school appropriate foods (nut-free, low sugar, blah blah blah), each day of the term. 

Anyway, I’m hoping this one small act contributes less to landfill over time #onesmallact #youarewhatyoueat 

Bath peas are apparently a thing

The rain didn’t seem to stop falling from the sky at any point on sunday. If we could capture all the good wet stuff and transport it easily to other parts of the state/nation/world that need it, well obviously that would be great. 

But, I suppose in the meantime, we have to focus on the other positives that the falling H2O can give us. Sunday provided one of those little chances for positivity. 

After a fairly busy and social weekend for all members of Theverymoodyhousehold, 4pm on sunday afternoon rolled around and each of us were tripping over our tired feet. The boys were irritable and stuck inside due to the precipitation. I had stupidly not got any of the weekly chores done so was trying to multi-task dinners, parenting and washing.

After the one-billionth frustrated toddler meltdown and a failed attempt at building a railway line to keep Giggles Magoo entertained I had alight bulb moment…I felt the realisation soak all through my body…we can play outside in the rain! It is only water afterall. We left Grimace to his sleepy-woes and put him in charge of cooking a delicious roast chicken for dinner. 

The boys and I splashed about in the rain – we gardened and raked and mulched (what else do you do in the rain?!), trampolined and when all of that was getting a bit old, we toddled up the street to find some big puddles (or to escape the reality of a sunday afternoon for just that little bit longer). On our walk up the street (or on the street if you’re a kamikazee little mate) there was an unfortunate Head-meets-footpath incident with Little Mate when an excited run to a big puddle taught him a big lesson about running in gumboots… just don’t do it. After a quick trip home with two very upset kidlets (the unbearable pain for one and the panicked “is his head broken mummy?”) it was emergency bath time – mostly to wash away the bitumen scattered across Little Mate’s face. Grimace being the superhero of the afternoon rushed into the bathroom brandishing frozen, peas to suppress the ever-growing purplish-bump on the forehead. 

Giggles Magoo in the bath demanded a bowl of frozen peas, and then of course so too did Little Mate. Happily munching away on the peas, Giggles Magoo started ‘cooking’ his in the bathwater. With green peas floating everywhere, Grimace claimed all the hipsters will be eating bath peas within the month. 

With a little refocus, life can really just shine. 

The Pub

The pub can be such a daunting place. I haven’t been a regular at any pub for near-on 5 years. Kids do that I suppose. 

Tonight I find myself in absolute luxury though, and straight from work I have headed to The Pub. Definitely not my local pub, but a pub nonetheless. As I am here by myself, I had to take a deep breath and find the confidence to walk in. What would I do in said pub (buy a drink). Where would I sit (where there was a spare table/seat). What would I talk about if someone spoke to me (general conversation normally flows pretty easily). What will people think of me sitting at the pub all on my lonesome (I realised Iactually don’t care). 

Of course it all seems so ridiculous to convince myself to walk into the pub – I have always loved the pub – I’m very good at the new-person-small-talk, the general good times had,  enjoying the random (or not so random band) playing…and that of course is why I find myself at a pub tonight. Grimace and I have a hot date with some bands…more specifically Camp Cope, Cayatena (I’ve probably spelt their name horribly incorrectly, but as I’ve taken on board one G & T, I’m far from caring) and headliners Pity Sex at Newtown Social Club. When I say hot date, I definitely don’t mean romantic  – I mean social adult time where there is not a child in sight, although as I write this, there is a child giggling happily away at The Pub. We are heading out with a few other friends (Steve & Bruce…I’m looking at you), but as neither of us are on parenting duties, it definitely qualifies as Date Night. Does that mean Bruce & Steve are also on date night?

I’m tossing up whether or not I attempt to write my first review of a live show for Theverymoodyhousehold blog (I cannot claim first live show review for Theverymoodyhouusehold…Grimace holds that tittle with the many he’s previously written. He likes to claim award-winning reviews, however I am yet to see any evidence of said-awards) – but I think it all depends on how many G & T’s I consume in my nervous state before the show. 

I have written on here before about how I cannot stop listening to Camp Cope – I hope I have helped their wage from Spotify increase exponentially (yeah, right) as I actually just listen to their album on repeat…for hours at a time. I love Georgia Maq’s vox, and her ability to mix up the content of a song and have it still make total sense. Being an Australian band, I am automatically attracted to their sound, but the fact that they are trying to make the music scene a safer place for females to attend…I may have a crush. 

Stay tuned – maybe I’ll do that review. 

People say the darndest things

Actually, children say the most darndest things. More specifically, my four year old does – probably all four year olds do! Usually it is an insightful comment, usually an endearing something that leaves feelings of love and pride. I’ll let you decide where his latest comments sit on the Endearing Spectrum (it’s a real thing) – setting the scene for you:

Grimace is off chasing Little Mate up and down the stairs outside our local coffee haunt. Giggles Magoo is sitting beside me sipping on his frappe, I am sitting next to him – stooped down, with my arm around his shoulders (sneaking a cuddle while he sits still). 

Giggles Magoo reaches out and gently pokes my belly button (we quite often play this game with Little Mate. He thinks it is hilarious when he proudly pokes his own). Then he stands up and gives it a good rub and asks “Mummy, have you got another baby put inside your stomach? Is that why it keeps getting bigger?”. 

The question had been over heard by another coffee drinker who kindly (unsuccessfully) attempted  to supress her laugh into her coffee. Without flinching, I took the question and laughed it off, explaining that perhaps I hadn’t been eating enough all the time foods, and perhaps hadn’t been doing enough exercise since work took over my life. We talked about how I seem to be at home more often these days and that is probably because I am not at work as often anymore…and that means that now I can start doing more bushwalking and focusing on all the time foods. 

At the time I thought it was hilarious, but always looking for the beautiful side of my child (ah come on peeps, if I don’t, who will??), I’ve now come to the conclusion that he was in fact sharing one of his insights with me: Mummy’s tummy is growing a little bigger: last time it grew bigger, she had a baby in it. Does this mean she has one in there now? 

Needless to say I felt very proud to tell him all about the night time bushwalk Grimace and I had been on the night before. I’ll certainly be keeping him well informed about all my future bush walks and  my “all the time” food choices too!

I was even excited to talk to him about one of my study topics from the week – the topic was about a building/space in your city/town and why you feel it holds a sense of enchantment. I couldn’t go past the Lapstone Viaduct at Knapsack Reserve, Glenbrook. The spot holds a special place in my heart, mostly because of all the walking I’ve done under, over and around it. The bridge symbolises a lot in my life, and hopefully will keep inspiring me to get out and do the hard work to keep me fit and healthy (images below are courtesy of the internet) 

On a completely un-related note, here are some pics from our recent fathers day outing… we headed up to Gordon Falls Reserve at Leura for a picnic with the dads closely linked to Theverymoodyhousehold. It was a lovely day, and we did a…you guessed it, bushwalk! 

The view was spectatcular on the Gordon Falls to Leura Cascades walk, along the Prince Henry Cliff Top walk – it is a fairly easy walk and one I can highly recommend for young children – Giggles Magoo happily walked it all, even though he was zonked. We started at the Gordon Falls park, stopping at each of the lookouts to breathe the canyons in. 

Look at me… any opportunity to convince you that I’m doing lots of walking and definitely not having a baby anytime soon!

Happy thursday – see you in the bush 😛


Testing out the technology

So I picked up a new tablet today (ok, so technically Grimace did), and I’m just trialling it out! It’s one of those wanky I-have-a-keyboard-cover-so-all-I-have-to-do-is-whip-it-out-and-SNAP-its-open type ones. I got sick of typing all these blog posts on my phone…the typos really piss me off, and as much as I re-read and tried to edit the posts, I’d always find errors later (or not find them at all and have Grimace point them out). I should really remember to use spell-check, but instead I thought I’d just take the more excessive option and buy something I can transport around, attempt to withold from the children and probably eventually break… but at least all these words will be spelled correctly, right?!

Whilst I’m amazed at how easy it has been to plug into another device, it can be a little unsettling to think that all my personal deets are just hanging around out there…waiting for me (or some creepy info stealer) to plug in….

Blerrrrrggggghhhhh – Grimace jokes about how we should all wear tin-foil hats to stop “them” from listening. Alright, enough of the suspicion already. 

Enabling everything on said new tablet did remind me that I had previously set Giggles Magoo up with his own email account (mostly so he doesn’t have the shame of having his teen-stupity following him around through his early adult career – seriously, thresarepurple…what was I thinking???), and I’ve just spent a very lovely 5 mins recounting our evening to him in an email, that he’ll probably never read. As I was typing the email, gushing over the family time, I was envisaging him reading the email all misty-eyed and reflective about what an awesome mother he has – so insightful; so thoughtful to share the smaller, more commonplace moments. But as I finished sending the email I was struck by my own naivety … he’ll probably read it as a pesky 15 year old kid and think “why so lame?” and delete it. Aren’t our expectations funny things!

It has also prompted me into setting up an email account for Little Mate so he too does not need to be embarrased by his witty 15 year old self. 

The second reason, and probably the most important reason behind the tablet purchase was a recent enrolment in a MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) course being offered by UNSW – Re-enchanting The City – Designing The Human Habitat. As the course is all online (and free to boot!), I really need access to a reliable and easy to type on piece of equipment…. unfortunately, the laptop at home with multiple keys missing is just not cutting it (most annoying is the lack of space bar, yanked off by a crazed Little Mate). So, for around fours hours a week, across the next 6 weeks, I shall be engaging in some higher-order thinking and analysis of one of Sydney’s most invigorating spaces…Central Park. If you felt like playing along, you should – enrolments are still open (remember, Free! Online! Learning!) and we could chit-chat through our devices (see, any chance to play with my new toy!). I’m actually just mostly excited about engaging with a university again. Maybe it will lead to something more?! I was going to say only the future would know, but then again, I’m sure this tablet already knows my future.