Friday, February 03, 2017

Hullo everybody! I'm back! Again...

Well it's been quite a while since I sat at my keyboard with any intention other than updating my Facebook status, reading the news or indulging in the odd bit of online shopping and by online shopping I mean putting hundreds of dollars worth of goods to the cart and then never actually progressing to payment.  It's pretty much the new window shopping really isn't it?

I worked out how long it's been since my last post and by 'I worked out how long' I mean Google worked it out.

545 days.

That's 1 year 5 months 3 weeks and 6 days.

That's a long time.

Much has happened in those 545 days. Much has also not happened, if that's at all possible, and much is in the process of still happening...

So in an attempt to bring you up to speed, and in no particular order because I have a really shit memory and have no hope of remembering what order most stuff happened in, here's some of the more major stuff that's been happening in my neck of the woods.

May I suggest grabbing a cup of tea or coffee?

If you follow me on Instagram or are a FB friend then you probably know most of it anyway, but I'm pretty sure there's one event that might not have made it to my social media, so I'll begin with that one.

That time my son was held at knifepoint at his place of work...

My eldest is JT he's about to turn 26 and is one of the managers at his local McDonald's store in Melbourne. It's a 24hr store.

At the time this happened he was on permanent overnight shift, which is, as it sounds a pretty shitty shift due to it's anti-social hours. After a certain time at night most of the staff would go home, the main part of the restaurant & dining room would be locked up, and only drive thru was left open.  There'd only be maybe 3 people working the shift - the person taking the orders, someone to cook, and I assume someone to do the running around etc.

For some time there had been a spate of armed robberies around Melbourne that had targeted only 24hr fast food outlets - McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks, 7/11 etc, always in the wee small hours of the morning, and always a couple of blokes with knives who would force their way in , terrorise the staff, and make off with whatever cash they could.

Up until these robberies began my sons store had been fully open all night, but the head office had decided that the best way to keep the staff safe was to restrict trade to the drive-thru and lock up the rest of it.

So it happened that one night at about 3am I think it was anyway, I'm a bit hazy on the details for a few reasons - it's been a while, I don't think he told me everything coz he didn't want to scare me, and perhaps I have blocked it out so I don't dwell on how close we came to losing him... JT and his skeleton crew were going about their duties when 2 men dressed in black wearing balaclavas and hoodies suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere and began demanding money.  They had forced their way in through the security shuttlers at the front of the store.  They grabbed JT and held a knife to his throat while issuing orders and demanding that they all go to the office where the safe was kept.  JT and his crew had been trained to be passive and comply should this situation ever eventuate, so that is exactly what they did. they handed over what they could and the blokes took off, thankfully without anyone being physically injured.

Yes his work supplied them with free access to a counsellor for as long as they needed it.

The scariest part of the whole thing - for me at least, and I suspect for JT, is that the police told him that had they resisted in any way then they may not have come away unscathed.  These blokes weren't kids, they were grown arsed middle aged men who had no problems hurting people to get what they wanted.  When I spoke to JT afterwards he told me that he was glad it was him rostered on that night and not one of the female managers, not because he didn't think they could deal with the situation, but because he couldn't bear to think about what the intruders may have done to them.  Those thoughts actually seemed to give him more trouble than the actual event.  They would watch a store for days or weeks before robbing it so they could learn the patterns of the rosters and deliveries etc. These men knew exactly what they were doing.

Now, as we all know Karma is a bitch, and she drives a big arsed bus. What you send out into the world will come back to you tenfold.  I don't often, genuinely, wish people harm, but these blokes were on the top of the list and I was sending out some major send-the-Karma-bus vibes.  So when JT and the Gorgeous Faye visited next he showed me a letter he had gotten from VicPol, which made me cry with happiness, feel incredibly guilty for having done so, cycle through the same emotions a couple of times, before finally settling on 'well he had it coming'.

VicPol had written to tell him that the bloke who had held him at knifepoint had been killed in a police chase!  Apparently he had been riding his motorbike and was approaching an intersection, when a highway patrol car flashed its coloured lights and this is the best bit at another driver and the robber dude thought they were after him so he took off like a bat out of hell, straight through a red light and was t-boned by an oncoming car. He died at the scene.

See? Karma. But you can understand why I have conflicting emotions - I never really want to wish anyone harm, but he hurt my kid, plus the driver of the vehicle that killed him now has to live with that forever and probably has no idea what sort of person this bloke was.

That time I got an indoor swimming pool for Christmas...

Christmas 2015 was a bit of a nightmare.  We hadn't planned on going anywhere for Christmas that year as BM only had a few days off work he finished on Christmas Eve morning and it wasn't really enough time to go anywhere and relax. But then my Mum called and said she really wanted us to come up there (Gympie QLD) for Christmas, so at the last minute we packed our bags and were ready to head off.

The day before Christmas Eve BM came home from night shift he called out to me to come into the kitchen. So I got up and paddled out to him.
Yes, I paddled out. Overnight the pipe under the bathroom sink blew out and water spewed all over the house. While I slept the sleep of the angels. Everywhere was flooded except the family room as we conveniently have a piece of timber attached to the floor that basically stopped the water from going any further and effectively creating a miniature swimming pool in our lounge/kitchen/dining area along with the hallway and all three bedrooms.

For approximately 10 hours water had been pouring into the house unabated and all my carpet and furniture was soaking it up. Needless to say we lost the lot. Plus the floor.

BM had begun the clean-up, so I put a stop to that quick smart - FYI if it ever happens to you DO NOT clean up the mess. Take heaps of photos and video and then leave it there for the insurance company to assess.

The board that stopped the water
and created the pool.
The initial call to the insurance company was interesting though.  I told them that we were due to leave for QLD the next morning, and asked what I should do, what was going to happen?

I was told to close up the house and go.

Close up the house. And go.
In summer.
For 4 days.

Can you imagine what would have greeted us when we got back!?  So I called back and asked again. This time they sent out an emergency response team that ripped up some of the carpet, sucked out the water and left a couple of huge blowers in an attempt to dry it all out.

The effect of that was I had one bedroom with no carpet, two bedrooms with massive chunks of carpet cut out of them, and the remaining carpet in our room had a huge lump in it because it had buckled from when they shoved the blower underneath it to dry it out.  I mean, what did they think was happening to that carpet anyway?  They cut a big arsed patch out of a 15 year old carpet FFS did they think they could fix it??

In the rest of the house there was a truly ugly green vinyl tile that I had hated since the day we bought the house. We had never replaced it because at first we couldn't afford it, and then after a while, you know how when you see something day after day after day eventually you stop 'seeing' it, that's how it was with the ugly green vinyl tiles. We had stopped 'seeing' them. But now we couldn't help but see them!  They were lifting all over the place and the masonite they were attached to was all buckled and lifting as well. Some of it was so bad that I could actually bounce up and down on them.

Eventually the claim was settled naturally it took a while because being an Aussie summer and Christmas, there were multiple natural disasters around the country all happening at the same time and my little old flooded house didn't rate too high in comparison and we received a cash payment so that we could do the repairs in our own time while working around BM's absolute nightmarish roster.

The funniest thing about the whole 'I-got-an-indoor-pool-for-christmas' episode was that not long after it happened we got a letter from our local shire council telling us that we hadn't registered our brand new pool, and that if we didn't do it soon we would receive a substantial fine...

Ya gotta give 'em points for tryin'

That time Mum had open heart surgery...
Mum, about a week post op

Mum's had a dicky ticker for a while now, to use the proper term she had an Aortic Stenosis, and the doctors have kept a good eye on it.  Well last year came the news that we had been waiting on but had hoped never to hear, she needed surgery. And she needed it now.  It's the type of condition that doesn't get operated on until there is no other option available, so when you get to that point things happen very quickly.

The condition means that the aortic valve has narrowed and restricts the blood flow from one part of the heart to another which puts it under considerable strain. Because the heart has to work harder to do it's job the aortic artery thickens over time further restricting blood flow. This all means that eventually the valve needs to be replaced with one from either a cow, a pig, or a mechanical one.

It's a huge surgery, with a massive recovery time - 6 to 12 months in fact.  The rules for recovery are quite strict and for the patient, they are a pain in the arse! Especially if I'm the one looking after you, there was quite a bit of side-eye happening I can tell you!

Mum being Mum couldn't just breeze through the surgery like everyone else does. Oh no. She had to have a bleed into the sac surrounding her heart at around day 3 of recovery which meant a trip back to the OR and Cardiac ICU for another couple of days. She should have been in hospital for a total of 7 days, she was there for 2 weeks.

She was a cocktail of drugs that we called 'The Rock Star Regimen' because it included Propofol which killed Michael Jackson, Fentanyl which killed Prince, and I think Oxycodone which is one of the ones that killed Heath Ledger, and I shit you not, she was high as a kite! She was having - from our point of view - the best hallucinations, but she was convinced that one of the nursing staff was trying to kill her and that she was gonna wake up dead...

Once I got her home and her recovery began she started feeling much better, but as anyone would do, it was really hard for her to not do things that she thought wouldn't matter, like brush her hair, or reach out and pick up a cup of tea, fill the kettle, use the salt grinder.

I mean, some things were okay for her to do, but there were some things that she wasn't actually allowed to do even if she could manage to do them. For example, filling the kettle is a definite no no because you aren't allowed to reach and you aren't allowed to pick up or carry anything over 2kg. If you did pick up or carry anything, you had to use 2 hands. It drove her nuts. And I drove her nuts because I'd follow her around the house saying 'put it down!' and 'that's more than 2kg' and 'two hands mother!'

It wasn't because there was any issue with stitches or anything, and the breast bone is literally wired closed so there's no worry about it popping open, it was to give the muscles time to repair themselves. So any action that uses the upper body, arms, shoulders, chest would have an impact on those muscles knitting back together and healing properly.

One of the things they teach you is to press a cushion to your wound site whenever you need to cough, sneeze, burp, fart or laugh, which in our family is often, and often 3 at once, and that helps with the pain and pressure that doing those things can cause.

Now, people that have had surgery under general anesthetic will know that it leaves your body in some interesting ways, some of them are not so pleasant for people in your immediate area.  So when she started tooting odours that would peel paint we just went into hysterics! I ended up having a Pavlovian response to the cushion coming out and would just begin laughing and holding my nose at the sight of it!

I was with Mum for just over 2 months and waited on her hand and foot the whole time.  I probably should have stayed longer but I missed home and I missed BM, even though we spoke every day.
It was weird.
Leaving her after that surgery was the hardest thing I've had to do in a long time, and I felt like I was letting her down, even though my dad was there...

But I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Who wouldn't?

Although BM's not so keen, he said that I would not be allowed to shop if I had to do it again as we nearly had to hire a trailer to get all my purchases home! OOPS!

In other news...

~ I haven't done a 12WBT round since last May which I must admit has felt really weird. I've gained 8kg since then which is a lot, but is nowhere near to what I have lost since the very beginning.  It's crept on and crept on as I've gradually fallen back into some old habits, and I've let Voice be heard again. That's the worst part.

~ I tried 12WBT's sister program called Voome, which is basically a 'no frills' 12WBT.  It's $10 a week, no contract, no set time period, so only pay for a week if that's all you want, and you get full access to the 12WBT recipe database and the exercise database.  There are some meal plans done up if you want to follow those, but there's not many to choose from, and I think maybe they're more for a guide to use when creating your own plans? There's no forums, no mindset lessons - none of the little extras that can be so helpful with the regular program.

If you're disciplined and an organiser, then you'll probably love it. I liked it, but it wasn't for me.
I'm essentially a lazy person, and if I have to trawl through a database to create a meal plan, then work out a shopping list, I know I'm just not gonna do it. But if I'm presented with a ready made meal plan and only have to change one or two things, and the shopping list is updated and automatically generated, then you've got me.

~ I haven't done a single fun run for the whole of 2016. Not a single one. Not parkrun, nothing. Not even my favourite event, the Winery Wander in the Hunter Valley, because that was happening when Mum was having surgery. This year I'll be making sure I do some.  How many?  I dunno. I was gonna say at least 2, then I thought pfft! It's barely February, you've tonnes of time to do plenty of them, so then I thought 3? And there's Voice going 'but you're so busy' (I'm really not) and I have to set a number, I need a goal... I'll check out Run Australia and get back to you with that.

~ I've been sick as a dog for what seems like months but in reality has only been 2 weeks. I rarely get full on actually really sick, so when I do I really get slammed. Being 'sick' for me is usually a sore throat for a day, or a tummy bug that resolves itself in a day - you get the picture? I'm a 24 hour bug kinda gal. So when I had a sore throat and a tight chest that lasted a couple of days I knew I was in for bad time. I lost my voice, had a rattle that sounded like a bag of marbles, and a cough that came from my feet!

The worst part about it was we were just getting back into training after the Christmas/New Year break and then I have another 2 weeks off  are we sure it was only 2 weeks? it really seems like more On the plus side I'm at the tail end of it now, I'm getting better every day, and I'm getting a fantastic ab workout! I'm probably being overly cautious, but as Madam Lash and the Minions all have kids, I'm not taking the risk and sharing this with them!

~ My daughter, CB, recently got a new job after having been out of full time work for almost a year. Poor bugger had been applying for jobs further and further afield and finally got one right here in town when a company she had applied to last year called her back to interview for a different position. Her partner and his brother finally managed to sell their jointly owned house and now he and CB finally have their first place together as a couple.

~ Our awesome dog Dozer, star of The Great Caramel Incident, lay down under a tree of his own choosing and took a walk to the Rainbow Bridge only a week before Christmas. He was the worlds coolest dog. Neurotic as hell and completely annoying, but we loved him anyway. He was the image of Hairy Maclary From Donaldson's Dairy. He was 13 years old, which is about 95 in dog years, and he was just plain old tired and worn out.  I'm pretty sure he was blind, deaf as a post, had arthritis, and I'm certain he had short term memory loss - he'd get up to go somewhere, stop, look around as if to say 'now why did I come in here?' then turn around and go back to his bed! We said our goodbyes and BM buried him in the very spot he had chosen for himself. CB and I went and found a lovely Camelia bush to mark his spot. Now it's weirdly quiet without him.

~ I've been pulling up the floor in the kitchen/living/dining area in preparation for the new flooring to go down. What a big job that was! It took a while as I had to shuffle the furniture around the room as I worked.  One by one I had to lift all the ugly green vinyl floor tiles and the fake grout lines that was between them. Then I had to pull up the masonite that they had been glued to.  I thought it would be nailed down at each corner, but that would be too easy wouldn't it? Each piece of masonite was attached to the floor with over 50 staples. And they aren't big pieces either, they're only about 1m square if that! Luckily the masonite just popped off, leaving the staples in the floorboards which I then had to prise out one by one with a pair of pinchers.  When we bought the house there was no pantry, so we bought one and it went over the ugly green vinyl tiles, which of course means that to be rid of the tiles altogether I had to basically dismantle a part of my kitchen, so I took the opportunity to rearrange it completely, and in doing so I have more than doubled the size of the kitchen!

The island bench used to be at a 90 degree angle to what it is now and so close to the bench that I could only just open the cupboard doors.  the pantry in the far right corner used to be beside the fridge, and the white cupboard used to be next to it, making a divide between the kitchen and lounge.

The spot where the pantry is now and the red boxes that contain my new flooring is where the dining room was.

The unpolished floorboards is most likely the location of the original kitchen when the house was built. How tiny is that! It was basically kitchen on the unpolished boards to the left, and dining room on the polished ones to the right.

~ When we got new carpet for the bedrooms we got some extra for the family room - the carpet in there was disgusting - so I grabbed the bull by the horns and completely redecorated that room too!  I tore up the carpet, painted all the built-in cupboards in gloss white, bought a spray gun and painted the walls, got BM to build me a new desk as the old one fell apart when I tried to move it, and bought a couple of new chairs for the space. It's gone from a horrible dingey apricoty cream room with stained grey carpet and timber cupboards and shelves, to a beautiful bright and inviting room with lovely white shelves and cupboards and comfy chairs. I love it!  The desk is actually a $99 benchtop from Bunnings that BM attached to the wall with some good sturdy brackets.  It's exactly what I wanted and it really opens the space up. My old desk was a huge black monster of a thing with an overhead shelf and cupboard on one side.

Family room - before

Family room - before
Family room - after
Family room - after
My new desk

~ I signed up to the February round of 12WBT. I've realised that I need the structure that it gives me, and I still need to work on my mindset.  It's a constant battle against Voice and old habits, and a lot of the time now I win those battles, but I want to win the war too.

Lots of people say it doesn't work, that it's too restrictive, that it's not healthy. I don't find it restrictive at all, there are heaps of different recipes that include all types of foods including desserts and sweet snacks, and there are plenty of different calorie level options to choose from. The first one I ever did I was automatically put on a 1200 calorie plan and when I saw the amount of food I was expected to eat, I actually cried because I knew it wasn't enough. So I changed it. I took control and I changed it to 1800 calories and I lost over 20kg. Now I do a 1500 calorie plan. I don't know if I'll ever do a 1200 calorie plan, I don't think about it because as long as I'm losing weight then I don't care.

Yes I've gained weight since last May, but that doesn't mean 12WBT doesn't work. Me gaining back a bit of weight just means that I forgot that for me, easing off the reins is not an option.


 Well, I think that's pretty much it for the time being.

With a new round comes new promises to myself, and to my circle.  

This round will see a return to blogging, as well as the regular Instagram 'a day in food' posts, it's really astounding how helpful they were in helping me stay on track!  I am also committing to at least one Metafit class each week with Madam Lash she doesn't know it yet though as well as our regular twice weekly training sessions with the Minions.

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