Weeks! #15: even the worst of weeks have good bits to them

2014-04-07 08.38.43In some ways, which I don’t always talk about here, this year has not been that easy for us. There have been a lot of stressful things going on in the present, and a number of stressful things from the past looming large over the now. We have mostly been getting by day-by-day and they aren’t the worst things – we still have good jobs, a house and the boys are healthy and happy. But this still hasn’t been the easiest of times, and this week proved to be one of the most unpleasant of the year to-date. I cried quite a lot during the week.

But even when many things are crappy, there are good things. And we started the week with Jude’s birthday and walking the boys to school.

2014-04-07 08.38.48I decided I could get away with wearing my fun shoes to work.

2014-04-07 09.24.09And we had dumplings with friends to celebrate Jude’s birthday.

The next morning it was off to Melbourne early for meetings and the beginning of the surrealness of the week.

2014-04-08 06.21.43The meeting finished early so I went back to my hotel to read transcripts of the Royal Commission hearings. It was raining and not terribly nice outside, so hiding in my room in my pyjamas, looking at the view and reading transcripts was an acceptable way to pass an afternoon.

2014-04-08 08.53.17I did wander out to eat at Rosa’s Kitchen and walk through the rainy streets.

Two very nice opportunities presented themselves during the week – one in Melbourne and one in Brisbane. I finally got to meet two people from Twitter (and more recently Facebook) in real life who I had only know electronically – but for a long time and they are both people I like and admire. So James and Andrea, thanks for being highlights of a somewhat bleak week.

I also had a chance to catch up with my old friend Lee when I got to Brisbane – seeing old friends and meeting new ones is a nice balance.

2014-04-10 10.18.20Another highlight was breakfast with another different James who brought us back t-shirts from the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup. It was lovely to see him.

So there was lots of horrible on Thursday. I was in Brisbane and spent the day waiting to be called to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Home Insulation. This was fairly stressful, especially when I got to see the person in front of me warned that not being truthful is an offence. In the middle of all this, some derby drama reached its peak, and I felt I had no choice but to resign as President of the League, something I really didn’t want to do. Much of the day was hard, it was horrible, it was stressful and I cried quite a bit.

2014-04-10 18.50.40Fortunately the evening held beer and more importantly, friends. Did I mention beer? It was absolutely lovely to hang out with Simon, Bondy and Viv, drink beer and talk about stuff. Of course, I still hadn’t made it into the witness box, so I did have to limit the beer a little because I wasn’t sure that having a hangover was the best way to manage my appearance.

2014-04-10 23.03.23Brisbane is pretty at night.

2014-04-11 11.13.56Here is the courtroom in which the Commission hearings are held. I had nearly five hours in the witness box. Six different lawyers, all representing someone different, asked me questions. The Commissioner asked a couple as well. All in all it wasn’t a terrible experience. It was interesting to see the various different strategies lawyers use – trying to lead me into agreeing with a proposition I wouldn’t necessarily agree with, implying I was stupid, complimenting me, giving me complete statements of fact to agree with. I didn’t let them bother me terribly, told them what I knew, provided a few lectures on the nature of the training system and in the end was reasonably happy with my evidence. I was very happy though when the commissioner told me I was dismissed.

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Then it was time for wine.

2014-04-11 15.38.43Here is me hoping that all the crappy parts of the week were over. Spoiler: they weren’t.

2014-04-11 17.44.25I flew to Bathurst via Sydney. The boys had all already headed up there for the derby boot camp we were attending Saturday. It was so nice to see them all and get hugs and be back with my family after the stress of the week.

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So Saturday was boot camp. It was exciting because all of us but Zac could participate. I was really looking forward to a day of drama free skating to make me find the joy after the past week. The day started well. The first few seasons were fun and straightforward. The boys were having a good time.

But after lunch it all turned bad. I am not that confident in the end about my skating ability. It has taken me quite a while to get where I am and there are still skills I am trying to master. I am good at most of the things i do, and derby is the one thing I have to really work at. When I get stressed therefore, I think some of my confidence and insecurity gets poured into self-criticism around my skating. So when someone decides to tell you you can’t participate in something essentially because you aren’t good enough, it is devastating. Especially because I knew that there were people who weren’t as good as me still taking part. I still haven’t been able to work out exactly what it was that led them to single me out – I had only fallen over once the entire day and they were claiming it was to do with my stability. Maybe it was my age and size, maybe someone just didn’t like the look of me. I have actually written to the League who ran the event, but I haven’t had an answer yet. Anyhow, I was beyond distressed so Zac and I headed back to the house where we were staying, leaving James, Jude and Sebastian to the rest of the boot camp and to participate in the bout.

Zac and I went for a walk down to the river on the beautiful property where our cottage was which helped me regain some serenity.

We also had Thai food for dinner – Zac’s choice – before going back to the bout to see James reffing and Sebastian and Jude acting as on-skates scoreboard guys.

And I got a cupcake.

2014-04-12 20.09.45The next day was a chance to forget all that stuff and hang out as a family.

2014-04-13 09.21.25After all, the view was beautiful.

There was some more exploring.

Then, we went into Bathurst for some lunch.

We also took some time to visit the Mineral and Fossil Museum which turned out to be pretty impressive.

On the way home, we saw a lovely wind farm. I was completely impressed that Shire and Country Energy had put up a viewing platform and notes around wind power. The wind farm did look great – renewable energy both beautiful and clean.

So that was the week. I am enormously grateful to my friends who helped me get through the week – our “urban family” who joined us to celebrate Jude’s birthday, the two James Hs, Lee, Andrea, Simon, Bondy, Viv and Natasha and to Demo, Jess and T-Ref who all gave me hugs when I was a mess on Saturday. Thanks to my staff who kept my real life running while I was incapable of engaging. And once again I am ever so so grateful to my family – my lovely boys and my wonderful James who help to put in all in perspective.

Hoping all the weeks after this are better!

Weeks! #14: presents, presentations and lots of eating

2014-03-31 22.15.02Here I am wearing one of my lovely birthday presents to work – thank you Jasmin!

2014-04-01 13.28.31James’ pretentious piccolo skim latte. So hipster, so cute.

2014-04-01 17.19.11More #yourtightsatwork. This time classic fishnet.

2014-04-01 18.55.14I also got to wear another birthday present – new socks which, coincidentally, match my cons! Thanks Jackie!

2014-04-01 21.58.57I adored my birthday card from Conrad. My godson knows where it is at.

2014-04-02 13.45.24I got to spend a whole day out of the office talking about policy and ideas. It is certainly nice to have a chance to do that kind of thing – bit of a luxury at the moment. The Department of Immigration and ANU had organised a day of strategic discussions on mobility in Asia – this pretty much covers off all of my job, so it was a great chance to engage with academics and other public servants at the level of ideas.

The boys continued with elaborate duplo constructions.

2014-04-02 23.11.24This week we played Arkham Horror with a new expansion which was fun. Thanks Sheriff and Slams!

The boys had their cross country on Thursday, so got to wear red, their house colours. Zac got very sulky because we vetoed his choice of red top and he didn’t want another.

2014-04-03 12.35.56Had a lovely lunch with Beth at Jamie’s Italian. So nice to catch up and have a gossip.

2014-04-03 18.22.16Thursday night was cricket presentation night. Jude’s presentation was first. I had made the rookie error of not bringing any cash and discovered that the bar didn’t accept cards….Anyhow, Jude got his team trophy and we ran off for dinner at the Noodle House.

2014-04-03 18.41.09We then headed back for Sebastian’s ceremony. This time I managed to stop on the way for cash, and so, hooray, finally, beer.

2014-04-03 19.21.10Sebastian got a special team award as best fieldsman and was absolutely stoked.  The coach had wanted to co-award best all-rounder to him, but wasn’t allowed to, so this was the best alternative. Sebastian has been working hard on his cricket so it was nice to see that rewarded.

2014-04-03 20.44.06The boys have got very excited about Magic again recently. One of the effects of this is having to stand around upstairs in Capital Games while the boys look through thousands of cards. Sigh.

2014-04-05 11.19.49Saturday afternoon was the boys skating sessions – they are all improving (not that Sebastian needs to get much better).

Saturday night we went to dinner with Dave and Caroline at Malamay. We had heard mixed things, but the food was delicious and the service great – although it did suffer from the post main course struggle to get a waiter which seems to be a regular feature at most restaurants. Anyway, twas a lovely evening and we’d definitely go back.

2014-04-05 19.34.15Sunday was all about Jude’s birthday.  Rachel made another fabulous cake, directly to Jude’s orders.

2014-04-06 10.40.06The party was essentially a D&D adventure. I pre made character sheets for everyone then led them on a trip through dark forests fighting monsters. Was much fun.

And then it was time for the blowing out of the candles.

Weeks! #13: birthday week of lots of cake, alcohol and other stuff

So the birthday week kicked off with morning tea at work for birthdays – not just mine but everyone in the branch. Cake!

2014-03-24 18.20.28The boys can take a little bit of motivation to do there homework – and we don’t tend to push hard because much of the research shows there is limited benefit to structured homework when in primary school, but here I managed to get them organised into their tasks. Sebastian has to start getting used to the idea given he will be at high school next year where homework will no doubt impact on his marks etc.

2014-03-25 09.05.57It is getting colder and thus #yourtightsatwork weather, and so, for my birthday, I cracked open a new and exciting pair of stockings.

2014-03-25 14.17.24I also had a lovely visit from Behati, my former EA Krystal’s new baby, wearing the lion outfit I had bought her. She did smile a lot at me, but not at this moment.

2014-03-25 14.19.34More cake! For our directors’ meeting on my birthday they got me cake – gooey delicious chocolate cake too.

At home the cake theme continued as Sebastian and Jude worked together to whip up a birthday cake. Delicious lime and coconut cake – Jude’s go-to recipe.

2014-03-25 18.53.21I also got some flowers from Natasha who is to be relied on to be good like that.

2014-03-25 17.41.49I love my Sons of Anarkitty t-shirt, even if I ended up with a gigantanormous one. Here modelled before pilates at work.

2014-03-26 17.33.00The boys have spent some time re engaged with the Duplo – I think it allows construction on a larger scale. But they have spent many hours hidden away in the play room building and playing.

Another night of Arkham Horror!

2014-03-26 20.29.43We got to pick up the car this week. Of course it was raining but new car! New car smell! It was rather exciting, even if the choice of Territory felt like defeat – such a middle class, grown up car…..

And then Saturday was devoted to the party – party organisation and partying itself. It has been ages since we had a big party, so this was the time. Gin and champagne was the theme, but we made sure there were other drinks for the very strange people who don’t like either of those.

I didn’t take many pictures during the night, too busy having fun, but had to capture this – Sebastian as the young apprentice to Andrew (their after school babysitter for the last couple of years) who was our barman.

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There was plenty of party evidence the next day – and I don’t just mean how seedy I was feeling.

We had to dry off all the un-drunken alcohol.

2014-03-30 12.15.48And the boys then made sailing boats out of beer cartons to sail in the pool full of melted ice.

It has been quite damp recently, so we have had some good fungal growth.

2014-03-30 10.24.05And, as we drove to training, it didn’t look like stopping with the damp. A dramatic end to the week.

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Weeks! #12: boys, whisky, documentation

2014-03-18 13.37.27Started the week at the hairdressers – time for something new in the hair department. Well, new colour, slightly new shape, same length (let’s not get carried away here).

2014-03-18 15.49.57In less fun things, since I had received my summons to appear at the public hearings of the Royal Commission into Home Insulation last week, I got AGs to send over all the documentation that mentioned me. There was a lot.

2014-03-19 13.45.03Lunch with James got me out of the office.

We had some Korean government representatives visiting, so I took them to On Red for dinner. I hadn’t eaten there before and I was very impressed – lovely spot, great food.

2014-03-20 08.18.21Took Zachary to school early for choir. Because Jude’s choir starts 15 minutes before Zac, sometimes we hang out a little before his choir starts.

2014-03-20 13.22.50It was the work volleyball final. Not my team, but actually a team with some ex-staff and colleagues in it. And as the SES sponsor I was there to give out the trophy. Nice day for it too.

2014-03-20 15.48.14Went to a whisky tasting at Hippo and Co. It was a lovely night – some fabulous whiskys from all around the world.

I think my favourite was the French one, but the Tasmanian Sullivan’s Cove was also a winner. Interesting though to try whiskys from places like India and Taiwan as well. Afterwards, a negroni for balance.

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On Friday I walked Jude and Zac to school. I was working from home for the day so I could go through my documentation un-disturbed, and James had taken Sebastian off to an seminar for young leaders on anti-bullying strategies.

As Jude was doing a “read aloud” at school with his class where they act out a book, I hung around, with my papers, for the half an hour before that started.

2014-03-21 09.15.29It was nice to see Jude do his thing. He had been very excited about it all week.

The rest of the day George kept me company while I read all my documents. It is weird to have to get so engrossed again in things you did five years earlier.

2014-03-21 10.48.15On Saturday we went out and bought a car! We had our old car since before Zac was born (and it was two years old at that point). It had developed a few eccentricities and it was time to replace it. Purchase was celebrated with lunch at Knead at the Belconnen markets.

2014-03-22 13.02.38We went out for dumplings Saturday night to celebrate my birthday in advance

Sunday morning we got to watch Grave Danger from Rat City (Seattle) take on the Vice City rollers. It was some great derby to watch.

And then it was my turn to skate.

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Weeks! #11: lots of driving and other stuff

2014-03-10 13.31.02There is definitely something to be said for starting the week with a public holiday, friends, food and some lovely wine. We did our best to enjoy Canberra Day this way at Steve and Michelle’s.


We engaged in some post BBQ Arkham Horror also.

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Then it was up early to drive for Wollongong where I had training.

2014-03-11 06.53.42It was a bit foggy near Golbourn.

2014-03-11 07.49.24Of course, one of the great joys of a long car trip by yourself is the ability to play music really loud and sing along at the top of your voice.

2014-03-11 09.33.28I then had a day of training in Wollongong by the beach and got to go for a lovely pre dinner walk. Wollongong has very pretty bits which I really didn’t expect.

We also had dinner at a lovely French restaurant – and here is a novel idea of serving mini lemon meringue pies.

2014-03-11 20.51.32Next morning it was up early again, this time to drive to Sydney for meetings. here is the sunrise from my hotel room window.

2014-03-12 06.51.09I got home that night to find Jude had received his SRC badge at assembly that day.

It has certainly be spectacular sunset clouds season recently in Canberra.

Back at work it was busy and stressful, so utilised a few coping mechanisms.

Jude is still working hard on the viola.

2014-03-13 18.49.08And Sebastian has been making puppets.

2014-03-13 18.49.34More pretty clouds.

2014-03-14 07.10.18On Friday morning I got up early for a ride down to the lake and was well rewarded with my favourite sight – balloons. I even spotted the Skywhale in all her majesty.

2014-03-14 07.19.54 2014-03-14 07.22.44At lunchtime I went and played the only volleyball game for the season I managed with my Branch team. i don’t think we won, and I think I am better at roller derby. But it was fun.

2014-03-14 12.19.58And then it was out of work early and on the road with James.

2014-03-14 14.25.53We were en route to Coffs Harbour for James’ debut derby game but we stopped over night in Newcastle. The harbour front has been nicely transformed there since my last visit.

We had time for hipster breakfast before hitting the road again.

At Coffs we pretty much headed straight to the venue and watched Port Macquarie versus Coffs Coast beofre the boys’ game. That was lots of fun – they struggled a little in the first half, but in the second got their walls together, starting thinking and actually won the half, if not the game.

The next day was the long drive home. Encountered a nasty storm en route.

Finished off the week with more derby – watching the Wizards of Aus playing at the World Cup.

2014-03-16 20.06.32