Folding bikes? New trend – flat bikes!

Today, unsurprisingly was about bikes…. but not quite as we’d expected.

The day started really well, Cavendish won last nights Tour de France stage which is kind of the best thing that could have started our day – and then….

Miles has been told that he can’t have a road bike until he’s 7 – 8 yrs old due to size requirements. But yesterday The Daddy found a kids roadie with 20″ wheels.

Given Miles had a birthday coming up we thought we’d go have a look. Unfortunately it’s still to big for him but we think he’ll have it by his next birthday which is still earlier than we thought.

Came home, took the kids inside for a rest and while they were resting thought I’d duck out for a quick look at the second hand stores. In the process (due to an unfortunate series of events) I backed over Miles’ bike. And it got stuck under the car. And I killed it. And The Daddy had to jack the car up to get it out. And Miles cried cause he thought he’d have to wait an extra year to get his road bike and would have nothing in the meantime. And I really damaged the driveway. And things were baaaaaad. There is nothing like the sound of your child’s most prized possession being dragged, scraping and grinding under the car – although I’m glad it was JUST the bike.

(A disclaimer at this point – I am paranoid about running over the kids and I knew exactly where they were before I backed out of the driveway)

Now what to do. Miles is so obsessed with cycling that he wasn’t going to last while we ordered replacement parts for his bike….
* wheel
* brake cable
* pedals
* grips
* brake pads
even after that it would have been pretty banged up……

So – we went and bought a couple of early birthday pressies…. Miles has a bigger, new, flashy Byk 450 and Tilly has a purple Byk 350 with pedals and no training wheels, so time for her to graduate from the balance bike! Byk are the best kids bikes we’ve found in Australia – and they are Australian designed.

The negative side of impulsive bike purchases…. we may have to postpone our holiday, but on the positive….. I’ve managed start our pile for the hard rubbish collection next week.

Don’t toy with me

I braved The Toy Sale today, my first ever big department store sale event. I obeyed all the rules, get there early (prior to opening), snaffle shopping trolley, stash children inside trolley and have a list. I expected the worst, and surprisingly it wasn’t as bad as I expected. However it is hard to take two children into a toy sale and not know that they’re going to want to take something home, much like me going to a massive clothing sale – I’m not leaving without something I can wear that afternoon. Enter bribery. I want to get out of here alive, you want a toy – together we can achieve greatness!

Flash back: I remember the first Barbie that entered our house. I hated her. I was really sad – I always knew that day was going to come but wanted Tilly to be older than 2. The Daddy bought it for her and when I nearly cried he asked me what he was supposed to do when they put them at her height and it was the only thing that she wanted and she’d been promised that she could select a toy? Damn. Anyway now she has several Barbie Dolls and watches the horrid Barbie films (total girly girl) so she was easily bought off with a half price Disney Princess Ballerina Barbie Style Doll. Oh see how I have gone to the dark side!

Miles, also succumbing to Consumer Kids Branding Messages loooooooves Disney Cars so he found a ‘Cars Game’. Here comes the point I have to take total responsibility for…..at one time I would have made sure that his selection fit certain criteria – no plastic, no noise, educational, etc but since Miles developed a fear as a baby of any toy with sound (given all his were quiet) I’ve relaxed my rules over the years. Back to today…. in all the noise and the full trolleys and the ‘running late for swimming lessons’ I briefly looked at the box to ensure it wasn’t pornographic, poisonous or Beados before glancing at the price tag – it was within the budget so I agreed and thew it in the trolley. Fast forward to the afternoon……

Satan’s toy now lives in our house. 1) it uses batteries. 2) it talks, loudly and often 3) it has flashing lights 4) you win by hitting it hard – A LOT!

I am now dreaming that 1) it will run out of batteries, 2) I will run over it with the car 3) Serious punishment will be required and I will (unfortunately!) have to confiscate it…..

I leave you with PARENTAL WARNING: Treat Toy Sales with Respect, Read all labels carefully, Agree to nothing under duress and UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES avoid the Piston Cup Race Game ($19 from the Board Games section!)

Go in Peace.

The House of Tour

If you haven’t been following the Tour de France or professional cycling in general feel free to drop past our house for a beat-you-over-the-head crash course…. Brief background, The Daddy really likes cycling. He owns bikes and rides regularly, dresses in lycra, and runs several cycling websites. Our little 4yr old boy, Miles is walking in his father’s footsteps and is completely obsessed by cycling. How obsessed is he?

* He can name most of the riders in the pro tour, what team they are in, what their kit looks like and whether they are a climber or a sprinter.

* His favourite rider is Mark Cavendish (He sobs his heart out if Cav loses a stage, pretends to be him when riding, wears green t-shirts as ‘jerseys’ and wants to be a sprinter)

* When he ‘win’s stages’ on his bike he zips up his pretend jersey and salutes crossing the line (he also added crying into his winning routine after Cav broke down last week)

* He can ‘read’ Toby’s Mag aka Ride Magazine’s Tour Bible cover to cover pointing out each rider, each stage map, how many and what type of climbs and who’s likely to win each stage

* He can name each pro jersey, who wins it and why

* He pretends to win cycling stages, stands on a pretend podium and gets his stuffed toys out for presentations (attended by his sister to kiss him like the podium girls).

* He spends every spare minute of his life riding his bike even if it’s just around the garage – He did 50kms in 2 weeks since his father put a bike computer on for him!

* He knows each category climb, what a peleton is, a break-away, a musette, a domestique, who Phil Liggett is and he talks back to Tommo’s commentary on SBS

* He wants to go to France to ride in the tour, he wants to ride for HTC Columbia

* On his bedroom wall is a map of France and the TdF stages and he puts a star on each stage as it’s complete, he also has a world map and flags to see where each rider is from

* He loves Cycling Central and is thrilled that Phil put Cav on it ‘for him’ 😉

* He watches his ‘old school bike racing video’Hell On Wheels every morning (or on rest days during the tour) and quotes the film IN GERMAN!

* After a serious spill last week he declared that he and Jens Voight are the two toughest bike racers (for the record Jens is pretty damn tough!)

* He does an awesome Jens Voight impression!

* When it’s too dark or wet to go outside he recreates crashes or wins using either his toy cars or the dining chairs (Tilly is always Renshaw leading him out)

* He has watched every pro cycling event this year and knows his Paris-Roubaix from his Tour de Suisse or his maglia rosa from his maillot jaune

Obsessed? Just a little!

So, as you can imagine it’s hard for any of us not to get caught up, just as Mulga Bill did, in the cycling craze. Particularly little 2yr old Tilly. Although she doesn’t share the boys obsession she now talks about Peletons in her sleep and refers to steep hills as HCs. She rides with Miles and participates in the presentations – although, Tilly is a real girly, girl and what she likes most about watching the tour are the ‘pretty bresses’ of the podium girls. She particularly wanted a spotty dress like the King of the Mountain jersey. SO, after cycling fashion advice from Susan at RocketFuel (who make gorgeous cycling fashion!) I ventured after fabric and here is the result inspired by those shocking umbrella frocks! Of course I can’t find pics of the podium girls from this year anywhere so you’ll just have to watch the highlights.

While i was shopping I found some fabric that reminded me of the yellow dresses that the Maillot Jaune presentation podium girls were wearing and decided to make one of those too.

So now we’re officially the House of Tour – great name for a fashion label, maybe we can take on the Forresters! Worse though, am I encouraging my daughter to become a podium girl?? oh save her please!!

So tonight is stage 16, with 2 HCs but could be won by a sprinter if they can get over the mountains! Are you with us now? SBS at 10 🙂

Muddle Puddles

Been a little busy around here, we’ve had family staying with us for a big birthday which was great fun, here are a couple of shots of the little people fooling around.

Also this week I took the kids, their uncle and cousin out on the mudflats at low tide. We live in Brisbane on the bay and at low tide the water disappears right out, opening up mud fun and little pools with tiny crabs, shells and other creatures. We found a complete fish skeleton, shells, driftwood and old tires that had become homes for all sorts of sea life. There were jelly fish, crabs, oyster shells and strange creatures we’d never seen before. Completely covered in mud the kids had a ball collecting everything they could carry and splashing in the puddles. The girls ended up stuck a few times but we pulled them out and they fell over laughing, it was great, messy, perfect winter afternoon fun! Unfortunately no shots as there was too much mud over me to be pulling out cameras – maybe I’ll get it right next time, the kids are already asking to go again!

In other news something fun arrived today that I’m looking at trying out soon. Stay tuned for the results…. fingers crossed!

Time, Time, Time, see what’s become of me….

After weeks of sick family members, avoided shopping, neglected housework and absent sleep everything I wanted to do remains undone. As my stress mounted over the last couple of weeks people suggested finding time for myself. Now I have to tell you – I’ve tried finding time, I’ve lost plenty of time over the years so it stands to reason that there should be some hanging around ready to be found, right? I’ve looked everywhere but where is it hiding? Under unmade beds? at the bottom of laundry baskets? I’ve even tried sneaking up on it – but I can’t FIND time anywhere, if you know where there’s some spare please shoot me an email cause I would LOVE to find some time for me.

Apparently there’s a thing called spare time. If you have any spare time that you’re not using please let me know – I’m happy to pay generously if you’ll part with it (and given it’s spare you’d hardly miss it!).

When I couldn’t find it, I tried making time. But I couldn’t find a list of ingredients and the clag glue and craft paper weren’t going to cut it.

I did try to free up some time by doing all of my chores and expecting there to be a big chunk of time, usually filled in by chores that was now free for me to use as I saw fit….. I can be honest, the more chores I did the more opened up to me and the longer my list became. Freeing up time wasn’t going to happen – every minute was allocated.

I have come to the conclusion that the only solution is to steal time. And where do you steal it from? Well you can’t use other’s time, and I don’t want to take all the kids time so in the end it’s the housework or the shopping that suffers. Truth is… I can only sew if I’m happy for the dishes to wait and the washing to remain unfolded and us to eat leftover Spaghetti Bolognaise.

Here’s a little project I managed to sneak in last night while the kids went for a playdate and hubby went to pick them up. (yes the house was a disaster while I did it and we ate take-away for dinner!)

Speaking of time, my favourite time of the day is when my little people wake up, they are the most cuddly and smiley then and I relish watching them slowly come to life from dazed eyes, tousled hair and big warm yawns. Such a difference from when they were babies and would wake with a cry or toddlers when they’d just want to get on with the day – now they want to crawl into my lap or into my bed and cuddle and kiss untill their attention is taken by some activity or new idea that pops into their sleepy heads.

Today I snapped some iPhone shots of my little guy full of sleep from his nap…..

What’s your favourite time or how do you spend ‘your’ time?

mmmm muffins!

“Some people… some people like cupcakes exclusively, while myself, I say There is naught nor ought there be nothing so exalted on the face of gods grey Earth as that prince of foods… the muffin!”
Frank Zappa

Last week I was taking the kids for a visit to a friend who was doing me a favour and knew treats were in order. Unfortunately I had also been busy looking after family sickness and hadn’t been shopping so my pantry items were almost all gone. A quick search on the net found these tasty muffins, I cooked them in mini muffin tins, just the right size for tiny hands and they aren’t too sweet with most of the sweetness coming from the fruit, for an adult dessert I just added a delicious dollop of double cream… mmmmm

Time to prepare 5mins (including *help* from the kids!) and 15mins baking time in the mini tins. Enjoy!

RASPBERRY & BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

Ingredients

300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
155g (3/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
150g frozen blueberries
150g frozen raspberries
250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly whisked

Method
Preheat oven to 190°C. Cut out eight 13cm-square pieces of non-stick baking paper. Line eight 80ml (1/3-cup) capacity muffin pans with paper squares.
Combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add blueberries and raspberries, and stir to combine. Add the buttermilk, oil and egg, and stir with a metal spoon until just combined (do not overmix).
Spoon batter among prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes
Make these muffins up to 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container.

**Note – I didn’t have any buttermilk so I used normal milk and it worked fine 🙂

One baby, coming right up!

I was reading an article on MamaMia with a question from a 17yr old with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome wondering if she’d be able to have children. That article featured a medical response, I am not a Doctor and not trying to provide medical advice but after much thought I decided to share some personal experience, in the hope that young girls like her don’t live in fear of this, or any other condition that may impact the chance of conception.

I was diagnosed with PCOS at about 16yrs old (I think, can’t really remember) and told that I would never be able to have children without medical help. Not being a very maternal person (and being only 16 and more interested in other things) I coped fine. Given that I wasn’t thinking about children at that age it seems reasonable that it didn’t worry me at all. My only symptoms were irregular periods, sometimes not arriving for months but when they did they could be long, however that was something I could deal with.

When I met my now partner we were young – I was 18 and not looking for a relationship but once things got serious I told him that I couldn’t have children and he was happy with that as he didn’t want any either. We got on with our careers and living life to it’s fullest – he was in bands and I worked in an industry with lots of functions so we partied pretty hard and lived like two people who’s only worries were for each other. When I was 29 I decided to give up smoking – I was a heavy smoker and had been for years. After trying every method under the sun it was suprisingly easy once I found The Book and after that D and I did a big detox diet. Then after many, many years of unprotected sex (remembering how I couldn’t get pregnant?) I started putting on weight. I figured it was because I’d given up smoking started running 40mins a day and eating healthy but after a few months when I couldn’t even lose half a kilo and had started buying larger sized clothes, I decided to see a doctor. I was 16 and a half weeks pregnant.

After having a beautiful healthy boy we decided to have another baby and this time fell pregnant quite quickly. When I went for an early scan they told me that one of my ovaries was at least twice the size of the other one. The egg that my daughter came from was from the over sized and highly cycstic ovary.

I believe that my smoking and unhealthy lifestyle had more to do with not becoming pregnant than my ovaries ever did (remembering that I’m not a doctor!). I have friends with PCOS and in some cases there have been difficulties conceiving but in each case there are other medical/health issues such as weight which can be caused by PCOS but also can prevent conception.

Recently I sat at a table for morning tea with three other women I’d never met before. We ranged in age from 34 to mid 70’s, as the subject turned to our children we discovered that each of us had been told by a doctor that we couldn’t have children, and each of us had gone on to conceive naturally. I don’t know why doctors have so little faith in women’s bodies – they are all capable of miracles, and I have two to prove it.

To women out there with medical issues please don’t feel that all medical advice is the end of the world, there are natural options available, look for other reasons that might be holding your body back and if all else fails there are medical ways to help you conceive if that’s the path you’d like to take. Good luck!

Bin diving and thrift shopping

I love a bargain – it drives The Daddy to distraction, when I come home with a parcel and want to explain exactly how much I saved on every single item – he wouldn’t care how much I bought as long as he didn’t have to hear the story of how clever I was saving money for him.

I also love those stranded items that people leave on the side of the road as their usefulness has come to an end – unfortunately in Brissy I don’t see it that much. In Sydney we would regularly leave out on the path our unwanted goods for collection by other passer-bys, originally The Daddy was horrified at our obvious littering until he saw how quickly everything disappeared! then it became the natural cycle of things and a very useful way to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (as Bob says!). Anyway – I haven’t spent too much time ‘decorating’ our first home in Brisbane as we’re planning on moving closer to the city by the end of the year, but the last couple of weeks I found a few gems…..

Firstly, I think that our elderly neighbour died, I didn’t know her personally but presume it’s been her family here cleaning out her house and instead of the ancient tradition of leaving out unwanted goods they went with a skip. Now a skip really reduces the chance of finding anything as it’s all compacted into a small space – plus, the fact that the old lady had died meant that it would have been poor form to go picking over the rubbish. Anyhow as I drove past one day I spotted what looked like a cool lamp – so after a late night scrounge I rescued it and brought it home, slightly damaged (I think from being thrown into the skip!), but a little super glue and surprise, surprise even the light globe still worked! So now the lovely macrame shade is throwing pretty shadows across the lounge and I’m typing this by its warm glow….

Also, we now live in the thrift shopping center of Brisbane, and due to a couple of strange encounters I might tell you about one day, until recently I have been avoiding them – however I’m finding a lot of fabric at Vinnies and the other day I spotted this little gem. We have been looking at Tallboys for ages – but they are expensive and the ones at Ikea are made of cardboard, so when I found this one I had to have it. Destined for the kids room it ended up being too big and so luckily it’s now in ours and storing my fabric collection.

So now I’m inspired for a little more interior fussing, and a little more thrift shopping…. it’s like a new haircut – loving it! Now on the lookout for dining chairs……

Some of my favourite scores have been an almost new HUGE Tonka Truck dumped in a back lane (The Daddy found that one), an old Hansa Walker full of blocks from a garage sale (both my kids learned to walk with it!) and a gorgeous ruffled polka dot top from the local charity store. What’s the best bargain or freebie you’ve scored?