29 September 2014

If laundry matters - I'm doomed. DOOMED.

So on the weekend, because I read everything, I somehow got lost in the vortex that is 'the facebook group full of mums from a certain area' where people were discussing how they do their laundry.

I'm not joking.  Hundreds of participants in this conversation and every single one of them with a VERY FIRM VIEW on how to do their laundry. VERY VERY FIRM VIEWS.

It all started because one woman found out that somebody puts their tea towels in with their bedding or their jocks or something and basically I think they will never eat or drink at the friends house again because the dishes may have been wiped with a tea towel that has mingled outside it's proper place.

And then the discourse spiralled into a long list of dos and don'ts for washing things.  Separate whites from coloureds; towels from lingerie; green from plaid; socks from jocks; hot water vs cold water vs filtered water; softener vs no softener; adults from childrens; sports from suits; girls from boys; delicates from jeans; bedding from towels and so on.  Actually I made up green from plaid.  But you get the drift.
Even I know you hang t-shirts upside down. Der.
Here's how I do laundry.

1. Take pile of dirty laundry.
2. Dump in machine until it's full.
3. Put in powder.
4. Turn on machine.
5. When it has beeped for about four years, take out of machine and hang on line/put in dryer.
6. Repeat until all the laundry done or I die.  Probably until I die because there is always laundry.

In fact I think there is something very inclusive about my washing habits that is represented in my general world view. #justsaying

Of course if there is something a bit delicate like a pretty bra or an Anna dress - I shove it in a lingerie bag.  But nothing more than that and only because ruined bras and Anna dresses will result in tears.  And aint nobody got time for that.

Never tumble dry children. Never. 
And you know something.  It works out fine.  Not once in all my 39.75 years has somebody asked me before they had a glass of wine at my house if it was dried by a cloth that had bathed separately from the wool of a toddler's dress.

Actually, that could be because everybody that visits me is aware that we don't dry dishes.  We just leave them there until we need space to wash some more dishes.

(Unless my mother or baby sister are coming to visit and we know it physically hurts them to see undried dishes so we put them away so they can focus on the state of our floor or the dirt on our skirting boards)

Of course, now that I've confessed to my lack of laundry etiquette people might just bring their own glasses, cutlery and dishes to our place every time they come over but we won't even be offended by that. I mean we really really wont. Because that means they have to take them home and wash them which is completely fine by us.

But I have been mulling over this laundry mania.  I just don't know how people have time to think about such things when there are so many more interesting things to think about.  Like anything basically is more interesting than laundry.  Even the football is more interesting than laundry.

I normally never give laundry any more thought than 'Bugger it, should do some laundry so I have clothes to wear'.  Which if I was my sister would be about maybe once very two years but because I only own four outfits means about twice a week.

Not even joking
Is it just me?  Is everybody else actually obsessed with laundry?  Is this why I can't get people fired up about anything world changing because the only two things that people care about are football and laundry?  I mean they featured a lot on my Facebook feed this weekend?  Is doing our laundry 'the right way' the actual road to world peace?

Anybody?  Am I doomed?  Like really really doomed?

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25 September 2014

The day my daughter flew

Having two daughters quite close in age, who basically find each other perfectly AOK company, means we don't often do things with them separately.  Mainly because they like each other and we're okay with being perfectly mediocre parents who force their children to hang out together until they mutually discover a love of music and become a musical duo which makes us a fortune as parentpreneurs and get our retirement funded long before they go broke, develop drug addictions, marry the wrong people and become tabloid fodder. 

So when recently I got the opportunity to go and check out the new indoor skydiving place iFLY and I could take a child aged 4 years or older, I took it as a sign to have a day out with the Tullinator and do something with her that neither of us had ever done before.  And because of the 4 year old rule - I wasn't even choosing between them.  It was THE RULES.  I love being able to pass responsibility along in solemn tones. 

So I told her we were going on an adventure. We caught the bus into town and she loved that adventure.  She loved being able to have Maccy Dees for lunch and walking around the block killing time.  She even thanked me for the adventure and said she loved me. 

I obviously don't take my children on enough adventures.  

So when I told her we had one more bus to catch to the actual adventure, she yawned and slept the whole way.  Which is good because having to explain what we were doing the whole way to Penrith might have stretched my knowledge of how humans fly.

While she slumbered beside me, I listened to the iFLY bus driver Christian talk about about wind and tunnels and energy grids and the history of iFLY and how it helps train dinky di skydivers who do the fancy routine stuff so by the time we got there and she asked how we were going to fly I was able to describe it thus: 

"You know Tinkerbell?"


"Well we can't hear it because she's on TV but she needs wind to fly"

"Why do we have to wear helmets and overalls and she doesn't?"

"She's had more practice sweetheart.  That's all"

So if you've not heard of iFLY, it's basically indoor skydiving.  You get all of the wind, adrenalin and what not as you do with outdoor skydiving but without having to step out of a plane.  You step into a big tunnel of wind, assume the position and go bouncing around like you're James Bond - just fatter and less coordinated.  Or in the case of the four year old, twice as coordinated and not even a quarter as fat.

And after wrestling with the instructor to start - she was just great at it.  She's four and flexible so she initially bent in half which was slightly alarming for me but once she got that she needed to resist a little (unlike adults who have to relax A LOT), she pottered about with a determined look on her face and a gritted smile whenever she caught sight of me through the window. 

She flew on her own.  My first born baby flew. 

I love my girls for no reason and every reason - but one thing I love about them is their extraordinary capacity 'to try' and with such fearlessness.  

She came out of the tunnel telling me it was "FUN BUT WEIRD" which is a pretty darn accurate description of skydiving I think.  Afterwards she told me that flying was harder than fairies made it look.  She didn't want to have a second go - more than happy to sit and hold the hand of the girl next to us while I did - I even had a go at spinning up to the top of the tunnel with the instructor and back down again.  It was such amazing fun and something I'll do again.  

In addition, it's got me all fired up again about trying outdoor skydiving.  Which I'll definitely be doing tandem.  Out of all the people who were in the group - I was the only one to almost fly out the door backwards.  I like to consider it a special talent but not one I want to try as I hurl myself from a plane. 

Even better - the Tullinator thought it a much more awesome adventure than the bus ride into the city.  
Parenting win.

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The #iFLYdownunder experience for both of us,
plus the photos and the video footage, was gifted to us by a PR agency
 to enable us to experience #iFLYdownunder
and hopefully write something positive about it.

Luckily, we both loved it and it provided me with a great opportunity for a girls' day out.
We thoroughly recommend it and appreciate that blogging allowed us this opportunity.

If you want to know more about #iFLYdownunder

22 September 2014

Reactively racist

We're all fired up in Australia again about Muslims because some idiot came up with a half arsed plan to behead a random stranger all in the name of a group of people who are using Prince as a role model when it comes to naming themselves.

And Tony Abbott is war mongering and conveniently the media are no longer reporting information about your pensions being slashed, the cost of education, the fact that we prefer coal mines to wind farms, or any of the other stupidity which has made his first year in politics look a bit embarrassing. His own party are saying so, so it's not just me. Terrorism as the biggest threat to Australia is highly unlikely - the buffoon in charge is a little more worrying to all of us.

And while we are all hating on Muslims again because one idiot declared jihad (which most people don't even know the definition of, including some of the people declaring it) and we're all worrying that our Christian values are being eroded by the infidels (conveniently overlooking that most people don't go to Church or even believe in any gods), we're in danger of being reactively racist.

This is when we repeat things we once heard about a Muslim that we never met that we know is true because we read it in a paper or on the internet or in fact we may have made it up based on a Monty Python sketch your dad adapted when you were in third grade.

And people start to worry all over again about women in burkas robbing banks and get indignant that they aren't allowed to wear their motorcycle helmets into supermarkets even though most of them don't even have motorcycle licences so I'm unsure what this clamouring to wear a helmet places is all about.  I have a motorcycle licence and a helmet and it's not the kind of thing you want to wear just for fun.  It's bloody heavy.

And we start throwing around phrases like 'them' and 'us' though to be fair you're unsure how to pick a Muslim these days because their beards look exactly like your inner urban lumberjacks and you can't quite remember if a turban means you're a muslim or just in the process of drying your hair. So if your Muslim neighbours aren't getting about with a big sign saying 'ME - I'M MUSLIM', you're not exactly sure who you hate anyway.

And if a woman is wearing a scarf around her head is she Muslim or just keeping her ears warm. And it's not even like you can pick a Muslim lass on the beach in a burkini anymore now that Nigella Lawson brought them into the mainstream and they are worn by lots of people not wanting to get skin cancer.
Or one of 'them Muslims' could be saving your life. #justsaying
So basically, we're at a point where we were probably feeling a bit too lucky living in a country where we have nothing much to worry about and have decided to protect our way of life like we did when we were Anzacs.  Once again, conveniently overlooking the fact that we were actually protecting another country's way of life.

So what are we upset about?  I hear you yell look what's happening in the Middle East? What about the planes shot down? What about the Boston Bombings? 911? London in 2005.  Sure.  All valid examples of extreme acts of violence.  Acts of violence perpetuated by extremists which profoundly impacted a number of lives.  Acts of violence committed in the name of religion.

Also profoundly impacting lives here in Australia are the 52 women are killed each year by their current or former partner; the 70,000 women each year physically assaulted by a partner; the 1500 people killed in car accidents; the 30,00 injured each year in car accidents; the 5,500 that die each year because of alcohol.

Extremists are dangerous.  They do inflict pain and agony and distress. But they're not exclusive to the Muslim community by any stretch.  Can I be so bold as to mention the IRA?  Or the idiot recently discovered with 120 kilograms of explosives he planned to leave outside a building in Sydney? You may not have read much about him because he was referred to as a 'wannabe bomber' not a terrorist - probably because he was not Muslim.  Why aren't we collectively calling for the expulsion of all bogans, particularly the ones with no friends who live with their mothers, to be barred from banks and supermarkets?

Is it perhaps because we're not actually sure why we're hating on anybody?


Exactly.  Have a great week people and remember - #dontbeadick.

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18 September 2014

I can. You can too

So it's no secret that the reason I got into running was because my sister got cancer and there was absolutely fuck all I could about that apart from mutter inane sentences designed to soothe and say all the swear words my mother didn't know.  So I thought I could do something 'useful' by fundraising and the best way to fundraise is to do something outside your comfort zone.

So I joined a running program with Can Too who teach you how to run in return for you raising money for Cure Cancer.  They've raised about 13 million dollars since they started and it all goes towards funding research.  Cure Cancer's researchers over the years have contributed lots of useful brain power to the way we 'do cancer' from diagnosis through treatment and beyond.

So last year, I signed up to learn how to run 9 kilometres.  Now if you're a runner this isn't that far, but when you're a fat boozehound who hates running it's quite a challenge.  I set out to raise $800, dared people to make it $5000, they did and I ended up committed to running an ultra half marathon earlier this year.  Turns out the only thing bigger than my butt is my mouth.  And that my friends secretly like making me do things purely for their own entertainment.  Bastards. (Albeit very generous bastards)

Sharing the fundraising love 
But I fronted up to the next program.  Basically because I lost a bet and there was more money to raise- double or nothing baby.  And I did it via Can Too again because the great thing about a motivation like money is that you can't back out because people will feel that you have to do a marathon or something to make up for letting them down. So I turned up for another program.

I even had muscle memory.  Who knew that they weren't making that shit up?

Now people do Can Too for reasons other than fundraising.  Some do it for the structure of a training program, some do it for weight loss, some do it because they no longer have any friends that aren't in Can Too so they run to socialise.  This group is officially at the cult end but they're lovely with it.
After the half with my delightful Team Captain Paula who ran the whole 23kms
with me despite the fact she could have walked it faster
And that's the thing about Can Too - you get professional coaches, a bonafide program, genuine encouragement and they work with you to meet your goals.  That first program, my Coach didn't mind that I didn't want to be fast but she did understand that I wanted to do it properly.  So she got me there.  The coach for the half marathon pushed me that bit further so I could run it, without ever trying to make me go faster "just because", though she was always a little bit thrilled when she made it home for lunch from our morning run.

And this weekend, I'm joining the MacNiners to run another 9 kilometres after ten weeks of training.  It's not going to be a run that makes money - I've been faffing about being team captain this time to give my friends' bank balances a rest - but I'll be running as part of a genuinely decent and supportive group of people.  I'll also be running with shingles so I'm going to be at the back - I'm in it to do it, not win it and I want to be part of my team's achievements on Sunday because they have worked really hard and I'm equally thrilled for the ones that have never run and the ones that have run a trillion races - because all of the team are lovely.  Like really, really lovely.

Training in the rain because #thisiscantoo
and apparently I'm hard core
So that's my fitness tip for today.  You don't need to do it on your own.  There are lots of organisations and groups out there that have been set up by men and women who want to do the fitness thing together.  They aren't lone wolves, they need to have people around them to make it happen.  So whether it's fundraising, a shared goal, a good laugh or any excuse not to have to take your toddler to the park again - you'll probably find a tribe that works for you.

Who knew?

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17 September 2014

Visualisation as a fitness tool

Honestly, could I have written a more tosserific title for this post?

Answer. No.

When I was training for my ultra half marathon (I really did do this - I'm not just making it up for comic effect), there was lots of talk about visualisation.

This is big in any goal setting - why are you doing what you are doing and what does it look like.  I was asked what my fitness goal was for the training program and I replied "Don't die".  I am pleased to say that visualising obviously worked because I didn't.

It doesn't always go right.  Just ask Aron Ralston.  But theoretically - it's a winner. Mind over matter and all that malarkey.  But if you're in any way like the majority of the population this is you:

And this is completely okay.  But since visualisation works, here are some pictures that will help you. I find each and every one of them a genuine reason to move.

Be clear about your motivation.  You don't need to have wholesome aims, just realistic ones.

If it's the difference between living and dying? Move. 

He did.  He really did. 

This is true.  Absolutely. 

Keep your goals practical. And take loo paper. 

Happy visualisation people. 

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16 September 2014

Sleep. Just do it.


If you sleep the recommended 8 hours a day - you'll spend about 26 or so years asleep over the course of your lifetime.

Obviously if you're Margaret Thatcher, you only sleep for about half of that, but she spent a lot of time being very crotchety and bringing a country to it's knees, so I'm not sure she was particularly thriving on the sleep deprivation.

Sleep too much and you're edging towards Rip Van Winkle territory.  That didn't end too well either - he woke to find himself a monarchist long after it was sensible.  Yet another cautionary tale you might say.

So the important part of sleep is getting the right amount.  And like all things this requires practice.  I didn't become an elite athlete by just turning up, training half heartedly, talking the legs off donkeys and then bumbling along for 23 kilometres.  Actually, that's exactly how it happened but I'm just boasting.  Most aren't as blessed with the gift of natural athleticism.

So sleep. If you don't sleep enough it will kill you.  So as a fitness basic - it's up there.  If you don't sleep enough you increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity and dying doing something daft like sleeping as you drive.

As an interesting fact - if you're into fitness for weight loss - if you swap an hour of television every night for an hour of sleep - you can lose an addition 6 or 7 kilograms a year.  Another one - if you're into fitness to get laid - tired people have less sex.  If you have less sex you have to do more traditional forms of moving like walking or running to make your required 30 minutes of moving, 4 times a week.

So here's how to sleep.

1. Choose which 8 hours are going to be your sleep time.  For instance: if you work nights - Starting at 10pm and sleeping until 6am is probably not best.  If you have children that always rise at 5 am, the bad news is that you need to be in bed by 9pm.

2. Decide where to sleep.  Ideally it's long enough and wide enough.

3. Work on the temperature.  You don't want it too hot or too cold.

4. Allow for fresh air - opening your window a crack so you get some fresh air into the room means you don't basically gas yourself on your own carbon dioxide.

5. Turn off lights.  All of them. Yes Nick, including the one in the bloody bathroom.

6. If you have a TV in your room - get rid of it.

7. Turn off phones, ipads, computers, close your books, have a sip of water. (Yes Jen I know - I'm a hypocritcal fitness blogger but all top athletes have secrets)

8. Lie down.  Assume the position.  The position is whatever works for you.

9. Close your eyes.

10. Go to sleep.

When you wake up about 8 hours later you will have achieved the following to support your fitness goals:

1. Memory consolidation - anything you learned yesterday has had time to sink into your brain so you don't forget it.  Muscle memory anyone?

2. Refreshed all the body bits that process food and regulate hormones and what not.

3. Fought off infection, disease and the grumps

4. Reduced your risk of cardiovascular hiccups, high blood pressure and what not.

5. Improved your chances of not doing something daft like falling asleep at the wheel or putting your shirt on inside out before a job interview.

6. Energy.  Bucket loads of it apparently.

So your mission my fitness freaks is this - sleep more.  And for those of you that are not fitness freaks - sleep more.  And beloved daughters of mine - SLEEP MORE!  Please.

It's a win for people everywhere! Good night!

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15 September 2014

Fitness does not equal tracksuit pants

Does anybody remember 'Health Hustle'?  Where you'd start the school day by performing a series of stretches and exercises to songs like Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder's "Ebony and Ivory", Olivia Newton John's "Physical" and Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger"?

And we had to all stand in a circle to do it because when we used to do it in lines Arthur bit Elizabeth's bottom one time when we were touching our toes.  Arthur was also the lad who in later years would throw the chalk back at the teacher and hurl a chair (and then his desk) out of the window when he got cross so I don't think it was our teacher's attempt to teach us good habits that drove him to do it.

But I'm kind of curious when we stopped having a good ol' stretch at the beginning of the day to clear our heads and get our brains ticking over.  Sure as we got older and went to high school we had PE but that's just state sanctioned torture for those that didn't yet need a sports bra and who couldn't see the baseball headed for her skull without her glasses on.

Somewhere between primary school and adulthood, we stopped focussing on fitness and started focussing on sports and then finally, we focussed on never having to get back into a pair of tracksuit pants again. Except for Megan, she still loves a pair of tracksuit pants no matter what the occasion.

And now fitness has become all mixed up with skinny, and pecs, and protein powders, and 12 week challenges, and being a badass, and gym memberships and the clothing and less to do with the state or condition of being fit.

I mean fitness is as simple and as difficult as moving regularly and eating well so you can do the things you need to do and you stay well.  Right? Wanna know how right I am?  I just googled it and check it out on FOUR different dictionary sites and they all agree with me.

In fact, the generally accepted lexicon indicates that fitness can be achieved by walking, gardening, dancing, vigorous housework, riding, sex, skipping, tennis, swimming, pushing your pram, taking the dog out, trampolining, skating, anything that gets you moving for half an hour or more, four or more times a week.

Okay - sex might not last long enough for some, so you may need to repeat this to count it as fitness.
Before Michelle Bridges - there were the Wombles
Exercise is good for you, laziness is not. The end.
So why do we think it too hard?  Because fitness has become competitive.  If you do something, somebody does it faster or in lycra or it becomes discredited or you realise that the only person that looked hot dancing those steps was Kevin Bacon and you realised you're happy to sacrifice fitness for dgnity.  And not all of us are programmed to want to do things competitively.  (I am not including about 90 percent of my friends in this because most of them feel a sense of personal failure if they choose the wrong queue at the supermarket so you can imagine how competitive they are about other things.) But other people.... normal people.  They sometimes like to do things just because.

And it's boringly true, fitness is best achieved if you choose something you enjoy rather than something that is on trend.  Because otherwise, unless you're some kind of sadist who only does things that make them miserable, it's not something you'll keep doing.

You don't have to get better at fitness. You can do it incidentally.  Fitness does not need to cost money or any other goal than 'do it'.  In fact, you don't even have to wear tracksuit pants to get fit. It's perfectly acceptable to go for a brisk perambulation in jeans if that is what makes you happy.

Incidental exercise as seen in The Walking Dead
So my essential two tips as an elite athlete:
1. Just do something.  Anything.
2. If you must wear tracksuit pants - don't wear velour.  No good ever came of raising a sweat in velour.

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11 September 2014

Always food sometimes food

At childcare my girls are taught about 'always' foods and 'sometimes' foods which brings much joy to me.  I hate our obsession with 'good' food and 'bad' food because basically we are labelling our own behaviour since food is just food.

Food. Is. Just. Food.

Sometimes we eat too much of it.  Sometimes not enough.  Some food makes us vomit. Some food makes us want to compose poetry in it's honour.  However, as lucky first worlders, we can pretty much eat what we want, when we want.

And unless we're living under a rock in the back of beyond we know what food is always food and what food is sometimes food.  And if we are under said rock we're probably living on grass and berries and have other much bigger problems than full fat vs low fat cheese.

Sometimes foods don't sneak into peoples hands accidentally.  For instance, a muffin is just cake without icing. The fact you call it a muffin just means you feel better about eating it at breakfast.

And when we judge the guy drinking a can of coke on the morning train, while we are sitting there with our El Grande Coffee in hand, his is not 'bad' and yours 'good'.  It's just your choice of sometimes food differ.

Being a whole food purist doesn't make you a 'good' person.  It makes your farts smellier for sure (why is that dear digestive system?) but does it mean that you never do anything which could be construed as 'not nice', 'less than positive' or even 'completely asshat'?  If it makes you feel better about yourself, than it's an awesome choice for you, but it doesn't make other people 'bad'.

And let's think about the messaging here, particularly if we are surrounded by small people.  If they just see us eat food, enjoy food and then get on with the business of living, food doesn't become an issue.  The more always food they see around them, the more it becomes the habit. But also, if they see sometimes food, well, sometimes, it doesn't become dressed up with the sparkles of 'forbidden'.

That allure for sometimes food people is because of how we package it up and present it to people.  It's not because eating it makes you bad.  Or avoiding it makes you good.  So let's agree to stop with the labelling and lay off the food shaming and try our best to eat well most of the time eh?

Because my friends, Food. Is. Just. Food.

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10 September 2014

Shingles, Swearing and Sandwiches

Shingles.  I've got fucking shingles.

Like hips, I thought shingles were something that happened to old people.  I'm starting to get very paranoid that my parents got my birthdate wrong by like thirty years or something.

Shingles.  I knew they had something to do with the chickenpox virus so I thought it was just some kind of itchy disease and stay away from pregnant people and babies. But no.  No. No.

But the irrelevantly named chicken pox virus stays in the nerve cells in your spinal cord for the rest of your life.  And for 4 out of 5 people it just sits around quietly waiting for you to die and causes no harm.  But APPARENTLY if you're stressed, or old, or your immune system has taken a battering, it goes wandering out along your nervous system causing pain which is fucking unbelievable.

And I have, despite my tremendous capacity to carry on, a very high pain threshold.  I break limbs and walk on them for two weeks before going to the doctor.  I'm HARD CORE PEOPLE. HARD CORE.  So trust me when I say it hurts.

STRESSED? OLD? SICK? It's lucky I like my Doctor so much or I might have been MASSIVELY insulted.  For the record, he did note that he said nothing about me being old but that my stress levels were high?  WHAT? WHO THE HOTDIGGEDITYSHITBOTTOMS IS STRESSED?  I'm a picture of calm and fucking contentment me!

Anyway, because this week is supposed to be all about my food genius and there was a bakery next to the pharmacy where I was stocking up on antivirals - I bought a loaf of fresh white bread and I've just made me a vegemite and cheese sandwich.  Because comfort food for lunch goes a long way to making a girl feel better about shingles.  That and having a profane laden rant on her own blog.

How to make a vegemite and cheese sandwich

and it goes nicely with sliced apple for afters

Shingles. FFS.

If there is a god, I do not think much of his sense of fucking humour.  Fact.

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