28 November, 2006

Balloon pics

As promised, here are some pics from my balloon ride. These are from August 2004 when things were a lot greener than now. One of the other passengers took these and kindly gave all of us a copy (and permission to post these).

We started the balloon ride in the very early hours of the morning (before the sun was up) and it was very cold. We helped to inflate the balloon and then got in and floated off.

This first one is in the pre-dawn light. It was very misty out.

Then the sun came up. Such a beautiful sunrise it was. The rays of the sun lighting up the mist was a sight to see.

I can't believe how green the hills and fields were.

Aerial train spotting...

We saw a lot of abandoned houses and buildings. Some burnt out, others just falling slowly to pieces.

Believe it or not, we brushed over the tops of these trees.

And this is how we landed. I was in the bottom right section of the basket. We had to crouch down and hold on tight when landing. It was a pretty smooth landing too.

We then helped flatten out the balloon, roll it up and went off for a champagne breakfast!

27 November, 2006

helicopter joy flight pics

This is the helicopter before we boarded.

We headed out over the coast and saw a lot of yachts and other boats out enjoying the day.

Found a new water slide to investigate sometime in the future.

At the end, we landed and got out and another couple of passengers took off for their joy flight. This is them taking off.

So much fun! I loved every minute.

26 November, 2006

How the helicopter flight went...

It was fantastic! Loved every minute of the (way too short) 20 minute joy flight.

We headed mostly over the coast and saw some lovely scenery. J took pics but I haven't seen them yet. If there are some good ones, I put them up later.

I wanna do it again!!

all excited!

I'm all excited this morning. In a few hours time I'll be on a helicopter - using my joy flight gift voucher. I've never been in a helicopter before.

It's funny, I caught up with a friend on Friday night and she called me a dark horse. Apparently I don't seem like the dare-devil type. I have to admit, I don't feel like I'm a dare-devil. I have been tandem sky-diving, gliding, had a joy flight in a tiger moth plane and had a balloon ride, in the past few years but I just figure the fact that my friend is a bit afraid of heights is the reason she thinks I'm a dare-devil.

I did the balloon ride in August 2004 and I was looking at the pics again recently. I may put some pics up of it later. The views from the balloon were spectacular. Here's a teaser...

Oh and if by any chance, you were wondering how the night out on Wednesday was - it was lovely. I had Rabbit and Pork Terrine to start, Spiced Lamb for mains and Triple Chocolate for dessert. The food was mostly really nice, particularly the Rabbit and Pork Terrine - I've never had Rabbit before. The only thing I was disappointed in was one of the pieces of lamb. We were given 3 pieces of it and two were melt in the mouth delicious, but the other piece was gristly and fatty (of course, that happened to be the last piece I tried, so it disappointed me a bit). The dessert was heavenly! White chocolate custard, chocolate mousse and a rich chocolate tart. Since I took my blood glucose levels before dinner (I was feeling a bit weird) and saw a 10 (180), I figured I'd better go easy. So I only had half the tart and a spoonful of the custard. I ate all the mousse though (yum!). Good thing though was that about an hour and a half afterwards my levels were 4.7 (84.6).

It was very strange not to have Chickie there for the night. He apparently had a great time with his grandparents though. I think he really missed us, because he's been telling me he loves me and that I'm the best mum ever, a lot in the last few days (and yes, he's said similar things to his dad too).

22 November, 2006

a rare event

Tonight Chickie is staying over at his grandmother's. This is only the second time he's stayed over at somebody else's house.

The first was when I had my lasik surgery. J thought it may be best, that first night, since I had to be careful about being bumped. Tonight is the second - we're going out to dinner and since J's mum looks after Chickie Wednesday's and Thursdays anyway, she suggested he just stay there the night.

It feels quite strange already. Here I am at home - by myself! Knowing I don't have to go pick him up. Very odd. It will probably be even stranger, going to bed knowing he won't come into our bed in the middle of the night after having a bad dream about Humphrey B Bear, or that I don't have to be deathly quiet when I get up in the morning, so I won't wake him too early (that never works anyway).

Dinner tonight should be good. J's involved in his work's social club and they've organised dinner at the TAFE school of catering. I'm told it's usually very nice food.

20 November, 2006

first case of idol worship?

No, not Australian Idol...

J, Chickie and I went to a birthday lunch, today, with his family. There were grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins and guest of honour - a great grandmother. Yep, Chickie's great grandmother is 92. Some great longevity genes on that side of the family (great grandmother's sister is still with us too, she's 93 and going strong).

Chickie was pretty shy, at first, with the other kids. After a while though, he was having the time of his life. One of the kids was a nine year old boy (S) and Chickie was just following him around like a puppy (and S was enjoying it too!). When we got home, Chickie was talking away on a toy mobile phone - laughing and basically saying how much fun the day was. Then he 'hung up', came up to me and said "that was S, he was just calling to say hello". Very cute.

We also saw more indications that he's going to be tall. One of the girls there is two years older than him, but Chickie is almost as tall as she is. He's also about shoulder height to S (the nine year old).

Oh, and I got my results back as well. All good - total cholesterol 3.6, HbA1c 5.8 (same as last quarter) and heart tracing normal. Mind you the doc wrote down that I'd lost 5 kg in the last year, but she's obviously recorded my weight at diagnosis of diabetes (7th of September 2005) incorrectly. Every time I've gone in there, my scales have been about a kilo less than hers and according to my scales I've lost 13 kgs, not 5. It didn't seem like anything to make a fuss over but on thinking about it, I wonder if there are any other little errors in my notes.

14 November, 2006

Misheard lyrics

I love this site - kissthisguy.com - every now and then I'll browse through it for a laugh. Though I must admit it's been a while since I visited.

What brought it to mind was the Eskimo Joe song "Black Fingernails, Red Wine". Now, I'm going to admit something here... but I have my own misheard lyric from this song. There's a line in there that says "All of us stand and point our fingers" but any time I heard it, all I could make out was "I don't understand the point of fingers". hehe

Now, I knew that couldn't be correct, but I just could not figure out the line. I don't know why I didn't just google it to start with. Problem is, now I can't stop thinking of my line instead!

So... do you have a misheard lyric at all?

13 November, 2006

You know there's going to be a wait...

... when you visit the doctor's surgery and the only free seat is next to a man who has fallen asleep and is slightly snoring!

I went to have my usual quarterly blood tests (to get an average of my blood glucose levels for the last three months), as well as my yearly cholesterol etc etc. Good thing I don't have a problem with needles or having blood taken.

I also had a heart tracing done. Never had one of those done before and it was kinda strange. I had to hop up on the bed and the doc put that sticky gel stuff on my arms, legs and chest. I had these sensors strapped onto my arms and legs and then the little suction cup thingies on my chest. All was normal, as expected. Basically my doc wanted a 'baseline' so that if there were problems in the future (apparently that can be common in diabetics), we'd know what was normal.

Because I had to fast for the cholesterol blood test, I did something naughty afterwards and had Macca's breakfast. A bacon and egg mcmuffin and a hash brown. Mmm... it's really the only McDonald's I actually like, except for their roast chicken salad, but that's now gone from their menus (dammit! All their other salads have cabbage in them - blech!). I have to admit I love their hotcakes and syrup too, but I thought that might be pushing things a bit far.

This is probably the second time I've had Macca's breakfast in over a year, the muffin isn't going to be good for my blood glucose levels - bread seems to be something that spikes my levels, whereas potatoes (ie: the hash brown) don't seem to be too much of a problem. It's also not good for my weight, since I'm trying very hard to lose it! 4 kilos to go, until I reach the recommended BMI score.

11 November, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night...

No really - it's true!

At the moment it's thundery and raining quite steadily. This is a blog-worthy event since Australia is in the grip of the worst drought in 1000 years.

It's weird really. Where I grew up was never hugely affected by low rainfall. In fact I remember our backyard almost becoming a swimming pool at times. I remember sitting on our front verandah and watching the storm clouds coming over. It seemed like it would storm every afternoon in spring.

I've lived in quite a few different places. Some that had a slight amount of snow in winter and good rainfall. Because of the climate there, the town had planted many English type trees (please don't ask me to name them, I have no idea). It made for a stunning autumn though.

I've also lived in a couple of other places that were quite rural. Not outback, as such, but not too far off. Places where rain was a big talking point. Places, mind you, that had long lived floods, because the land was so flat. The flooding would take a long time to arrive and then just as long to leave. I was a radio announcer during one flood and I remember reading flood reports for weeks!

One place I lived in, had dam levels down to just 4%. As bad as that was, it was fascinating because a town that had been flooded when the dam was built had been uncovered for the first time in many decades. It became quite a tourist attraction to go see the dam and the old town. It was quite amazing to walk on the dam floor and look up at the walls and see the markings of the different water levels of the past.

Water plays a big part in the day to day life of Australia - I'm sure it does everywhere really. So, a simple storm can be a big thing sometimes.

Lest we forget

From the Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs website:

10 November, 2006

Eye surgery anniversary

A year ago today I had LASIK surgery to correct my short-sighted vision. I am SO glad I had it done.

It was discovered I was very short-sighted when I was in 5th class and have worn glasses or contact lenses ever since. I've had problems with contacts - I developed an allergy to the soft lenses (dammit!) and had to move to hard lenses. They weren't very comfortable and I could only wear them about 6 hours a day, so eventually I gave up and just went back to glasses. Glasses themselves were never very comfortable either. My prescription was quite strong so even with those special lighter material ones, they were quite heavy on my nose.

Several years back I'd looked into LASIK and was advised my level of myopia was beyond the limits, but told to wait a few years because those limits were being extended all the time. Eventually I was told I could have it done, but I never did get around to it. I had the money (it's not cheap!) but I have to admit I was a bit scared of complications. I've had acute bi-lateral Iritis in the past and the treatment was six weeks of drops to fix the size of my irises. What that meant is six weeks of not being able to focus properly on anything unless it was at a certain distance. No reading, no tv, no driving, high sensitivity to light and a bit of pain in the early stages (it was too painful to even open my eyes the first day). The thoughts of not being able to see terrified me really.

Then I was diagnosed with diabetes and all I could think was that now I'd be ruled out because of that. I was encouraged to ask and I'm glad I did, because I was told it wasn't a problem. So, I booked myself in and now, I'm loving being able to see normally. It is the most self-indulgent thing I've ever done and I don't regret it.

The habits of a lifetime are hard to break though - every now and then I'll wake up and still automatically reach for my glasses!

09 November, 2006

My little ninja

Chickie at Halloween...

Please excuse the crap photography. I'm always cutting people's head's off or managing to get the blurriest shot ever. I need to do a course or something.

08 November, 2006

Natalie Bassingthwaighte & Shannon Noll - Don't Give Up

So what do you think of this then? I heard it on the radio driving home and my initial thoughts were that Natalie's butchered her part. Having previously worked in radio though, I'm finding it hard to actually come out and say that. Every song you play in commercial radio is the BEST you've ever heard, don'tcha know...

I've had a few listens and I've decided I don't hate it, but I much prefer Kate Bush/Peter Gabriel's version.

I don't think I like Natalie's phrasing very much though. Funnily enough, there's a comment on the youtube page that says they've sung it exactly as Kate/Peter. I think Shannon might have but Natalie is quite different.

07 November, 2006

stream of consciousness blogging?

Some random stuff...

I won third place in a Melbourne cup sweep at work today - thanks Maybe Better :)

J found another shingleback lizard in our yard over the weekend. It's definitely not the same as the other one I've blogged about before, since it's half the size. I wonder if it's a mate or possibly a baby of the other lizard. I think it's kind of cool we have a couple of lizards in our yard. I just don't want snakes around... anyone know if snakes will also hang out where lizards hang out? I'm scared of snakes and concerned J or Chickie might get bitten - particularly since J is currently paving our back patio area and that means there's a big pile of rocks out the back.

Hopefully this summer I might actually have a nice back patio area and a proper clothesline again. A few months before Chickie was born (yes, almost 5 years ago) we bought a few 100+ year old cobblestones to pave with. When I say a few, it was two dumptrucks worth and they basically filled our whole driveway. It took J and his mates quite a bit of time to shift them around the back (average weight of the stones is 20 kg) and since then J's been slowly paving the back patio area. It'll look lovely when it's all finished and I can't wait! I want to have it all finished now (or to be completely honest a couple of years ago) - with a new outdoor setting, a proper clothesline that will fit more than two small machine loads of washing (at the moment we just have a line slung up between the shed and the old clothesline post), a swingset for Chickie and lots of lovely new plants to hide the hideous back fence. J's been buying some new plants to get things going - we have two lovely Japanese maples in huge pots out there now. He also bought some of those solar powered garden lamps. I can see an end to the paving too - 4 or 5 more short rows and he should be done there.

I visited my friend who had the baby recently. I got to hold the little sweetie and she's so tiny! She was 5 pound something (2.5 kg) at birth and has been a little slow to put on weight (she was a bit prem). It was amazing to hold her and then pick up Chickie who is 46 pounds (21 kg) now. He's been going through a big growth spurt lately. He's always hungry and pants fit him around the waist but are now three-quarter pants in length. I picture him as one of those teenagers that will tower over everyone and eat you out of house and home!

I'm loving these Eclipse Cinnamon Mints. They're not easy to find though - all they seem to have in the shops are the empty boxes left. I hope that means they'll keep stocking them. The closest supermarket has a habit of no longer stocking my favourite stuff. I reckon they track our buying and do it deliberately! ;)

Ok... suggestion time. I will have this Friday and next Monday off and alllllll to myself (can't wait!). So, what should I do with my 'me time'? What do you like to indulge in when you have time all to yourself?

03 November, 2006

Feeling a bit flat

I don't know what's going on with my mood lately. Feeling flat, disinterested and disconnected.

We've had 2 days training as part of the new role at work, though there is more to come. The next lof of training will be more specialised though, what we've had is what the front line people get.

Only problem is, most of the people doing the front line role have been doing a related role for years. Several in our team had the training (2 or 3 years ago) for the related role, but then haven't had anything to do with that role since. Basically office politics meant we weren't able to get access to the required systems so it wasn't possible to keep up or practice. So this new role has new systems but a lot of the technical troubleshooting is the same. All very well if you've been doing that related role, but for the handful of people who haven't (ie: me!) we're a bit lost. Two days of being shown the new systems and then we're let loose on the phones.

The other thing, is that one of the new systems seems like it is really poorly designed. To get something as basic as name/address/date of birth to do an id check, you have to go through 4 different levels to get to these details. As an example, if you had someone ask a question about their plan - say 'when is my contract up', and 'is my service currently active', you'd have to view about 12 different sections. I don't know if it's because I'm unfamiliar with navigating it, or if it is poorly designed but in the billing system we've used for my original role (which we are still doing by the way), you could see all that information in two sections.

I think part of my disconnected feelings come from that. I don't think that's completely it though. Even though I'm feeling like I'm floundering, I can see that it won't be like it forever. I'm getting the hang of the basics and the technical side of it (particularly with the other training to come) really interests me. The geek in me must be coming out, because I'm fascinated by the details like line attenuation and signal to noise ratio. I have to say I'm liking it way more than the line faults role as well.

The team event that I've spoken of before was also on tonight. I didn't end up going. I was going to, but coming home today, I felt so tired and completely and thoroughly disinterested that I just couldn't face the thought of driving over an hour, in Friday night traffic, to see a movie in a genre that I dislike. I tried to nap for a little beforehand but I couldn't shut down my thoughts to rest.

Anyway, this mood has been here for a few days. Not sure what exactly is causing it, but I'm hoping that voicing it here will be a bit cathartic. To be totally honest, I feel like I just want to curl up in a little ball, in a dark room and be alone for a while. I can't do that at home (Chickie won't even let me go the bathroom by myself, some days) and I'm pretty sure people would get a little concerned if I hid under my desk at work.

I'm sure I'll be back to my usual self soon. As they say "This too, shall pass".

01 November, 2006

Happy Halloween!

We don't really celebrate Halloween in Australia. You might see a few costumes and scary props in a few shops if you're lucky but that's pretty much it. Apparently there was some house that put on a big display for Halloween and they made the national news. Either it's a slow news day or that shows you how rare it is.

Anyway, Chickie's childcare centre seems to like doing fun stuff for any occasion they can think of. They dress up, they have games or events for the kids etc etc. Because of this Chickie was really really really wanting to go trick or treating for real.

So, I organised with some neighbours/friends for Chickie to come over and do his trick or treating. He was so cute - all dressed up in black as a ninja. I might even have to post a pic when I get the photos off the camera. He was having fun and wanted to go to 'thousands and thousands of houses'. I had to convince him that we could only go to a couple of houses because we didn't want to be greedy. His reply? 'We'll just go show them my costume then'...