Well. Not quite sure what happened to that year then. I know they say that time seems to go faster when you’re older, but this is getting ridiculous. 

2010 didn’t see quite the usual quota of ‘adventure’ for the Schmidts this year. We’ll blame Caitlin needing to hang around a bit in order to do her HSC.  OK, and the (drumroll please…) beginnings of the Renovations!!!!-  which look like they’ll keep us grounded a bit well into 2011. But more about them later.

Apologies, as always, for the excruciating detail to come. It's a bit self-indulgent, but my yearly Schmidt Files have come to serve as a familytime capsule – particularly as my memory has started to get somewhat patchy in my old age - the same old age that perceives time hurtling by I suppose. It's a worry...!

At least we did start the year with some Schmidt Action - with two days of canyoning in the Blue Mountains in January. 

First up was Rocky Creek, with an entrée of Sheep Dip canyon. We did it with Cait and Ali (now almost seasoned professionals!), and a couple of 'old' friends bringing their sons for their first canyon. We hadn’t done Sheep Dip before – loved it, and wondered why we’d never thought do it as part of the way into Rocky Creek before! Definitely a must anytime Rocky Creek is on our playlist!

A couple of days later we did a family trip - just the five of us - down Wollangambe Two. Zoe handled it all really well, so she’s at least partly baptised into the Order of Canyoners now too.  She’s still not really gung ho, so it might be a couple of years before she’s ready for water jumps and tricky climbs in other canyons. Right now we're making last minute plans to head down to canyon land in the last week of January, so we'll have to figure out which one to do!

Back to 2010 - during the rest of January Marc was back at work, but we did manage some quality family beach time together. I do believe I’m finally getting the hang of this body surfing thing (as long as the waves are right, and there's not too much seaweed!) even if I know that I’ll never manage to catch the waves as far in as Marc does – dammit! We certainly had some sublime beach days when you couldn’t have paid me to live anywhere else in the world!

Then it was back to school – and netball – with a vengeance.  I didn’t think it was possible, but this year it was up yet another notch with the netball involvement. All three girls played rep for Woopi, and Caitlin coached the 12s rep team (Zoe’s team). I ran an unofficial role of ‘backup’ –  particularly during all the training afternoons.  All this rep madness involved a trip to Campbelltown over the June long weekend for Cait’s 'State' with the 17s team, and then splitting ourselves between Charlestown and Maitland for the 12s and 15s.  The poor old 12s were placed in a higher division than their ability – a 'scraped together at the last minute/just enough players’ team, with a couple of players/parents who didn’t understand the meaning of ‘commitment’.  They didn’t win a game, but coach Cait at least made sure they didn’t come away disheartened or down on themselves. It's a hell of a way to improve your netball, but they are all better players for the experience!  Most of them are backing up for another year, and should hopefully have a better time of it in Division 4 next year.

Alison’s 15s team continued their great form, punching above their weight as always. Despite being seeded lowest they placed half way through Division 2 (and knocked off some heavyweight teams in the process.) Marc overheard people (looking at the scores) saying 'Woolgoolga? Who are they and how on earth do they do it?'

As for the rest of the season, this year I did the canteen catering, as well as the usual website and newsletter stuff. Alison co-coached a junior team, and we backed up for an age carnival in Grafton in August. Zoe’s 11/12’s team scooped a Runners Up trophy to add to the dust collectors on the shelves.  But to say that I was relieved come Grand finals and presentation in September would be an understatement. (More Winners and Runners Up ornaments all round..)

Apart from the netball the girls have had a pretty good year. Oh there are definitely times at home when I could cheerfully strangle them.. and times when I feel like we’re not even getting pass marks in Parenting.  Then they do you proud – with school in particular – so somewhere along the line I guess we’re doing something right. And as I look back through the 'Schmidt Files', I can see how they are changing - 'growing! maturing!' you might say. In amongst the individual differences, an 'age/phase' pattern definitely emerges, so you do realise that some things that drive you nuts are indeed 'just a phase'. Then they move on to the next thing to send you a bit more grey (with the eldest leading the charge.)

Cait had a fantastic Year 12 – all the more impressive given the commitment to the netball in the first half of the year. She designed and edited the Year 12 Yearbook, was involved in the school musical, a Bollywood Dance group, organising a Yr 12 'flash mob dance' for 'muck up day', and with organising the Yr 12 formal. She came first in General Maths and IT (school assessment), and in her HSC results got a Band 6 in Art and General Maths (along with two Band 5s and a Band 4); her Major Work was accepted into Art Express (it will be on display in Armidale Gallery from May to August); she came away with a creditable ATAR of 83.5; and at the general School Presentation was awarded the ADF Long Tan Memorial Award for Leadership & Teamwork (with a cheque for $500!).   Not a bad way to end your school career!

She’s decided to take a gap year, and within a week of finishing her exams picked up a job at a local café in Woopi, and is getting 3 -4 days a week already. That should keep her out of mischief! She also looks set to pick up some graphic design work with the local photographer that she did an IT placement with earlier in the year. And she’s signed up to coach a rep team again!  She still needs to get her act together to get her Ps – it’s already wearing a bit thin chauffeuring her to and from work.  Learning to drive just ended up on the backburner during her full-on year. Unfortunately accruing those 120 hours involves Marc or me being in the passenger seat  – and I’m not past the nail biting stage with it yet! (I don't think I'm her favourite to have sitting across the other side of the car from her either!)

We don’t know yet whether her ATAR will convert to a high enough OP to get into the double degree (in Visual Arts and IT) that she wants to do at QUT, but she will definitely get into the IT degree. Part of me is glad to still have her around for another 12 months. The other part questions my sanity!

Ali has trundled along this year, having a good time with friends, and not putting herself out too much with schoolwork (which can be frustrating when you know what she could achieve if she got herself organized and put a bit of effort in.) When she missed out on her usual academic achievement award in July she blamed the teachers. Somehow she got back on the award list at the end of the year, which only served to prove her point and not ours. I guess Year 9 is an ambivalent kind of year, and she really only needs to time her run like Caitlin did. Time management isn’t her strong point though – I mean, why organise yourself to be ready for the bus with a few nano-seconds to spare in case things don’t go according to plan?! (Which is highly likely when you leave your stuff lying around everywhere.) Occasionally I entertain the notion that there might have been a mix-up at the hospital – as spending half an hour on one’s hair every morning is definitely not in my genes - nor Marc's!!  Her hair straightener gets confiscated every other week too – everytime she gets it back she keeps leaving it on! For a smart cookie she can be a slow learner!

When we’re not bagging her out for missing the bus (and leaving her shoes and school bag in the middle of the living areas) we do actually think she’s quite lovely. We never get tired of watching her on the netball court. And I’m happy that she’s still doing a swim squad each week to keep her fitness ticking over. She still doesn’t like the limelight – likes to be one of a crowd. She scored a trip to Sydney to ‘State’ with a school swimming relay team. (It’s that team thing again!)  I’m hoping she’ll take on coaching a Junior netball team by herself next year. She realised this year that co-coaching has its frustrations, but stepping up to look after a team herself will take a bit of chutzpah on her part. She earns herself some money with a paper run, but might just have to find herself a part time job to fund her fashion 'wants'. (That's something I haven't had to worry about with Caitlin!)

Zoe has just done her last year in primary school! How scary is that?!  She threw herself into the year with gusto – taking her role on Student Council very seriously. Her teacher challenged her to push through her comfort zone and take on one of the main roles in the school musical – even to the point of hamming it up in a male part. She aimed high with her sport, and did one better than her sisters by nailing both Senior Girls Swimming Champion and the Senior Girls cross country champion. She had a hard act to follow academically, but she followed in both their footsteps by getting the Dux award, completing a Schmidt hat-trick on the honour boards.  You’ll have to forgive us for being just a bit chuffed about that.  She’s looking forward to high school, albeit with some natural trepidation (especially given that the sister that is nicer to her won’t be there anymore. Alison will probably acknowledge her presence in a year or two! - or perhaps also when they don't have to share a room.) She’s got a place in the new Yr 7 Excel class, so that should make Yr 7 less frustrating than it was for the other two.  I still can’t believe we’re done and dusted with primary school. Out of school she keeps busy with the netball – and once a week swim squad and a tennis class and a paper run.

Marc is still playing/doing his 'Bloody Touch' - he managed a few weekends away playing that this year... but I guess at least he doesn't have to go away for work quite so much. He's still Admin officer for Woopi Touch, so that involves a fair bit of time during their season. (Thank god they don't play during winter is all I can say.) At the moment he's playing Touch three nights a week - on Thursday nights in a mixed team with Caitlin.

We had a few months off the bikes earlier in the year, but by July decided enough was enough. I put my foot down with my early starts in the netball clubhouse and decided to claim back our Saturday morning riding time. We dusted off the tandem and started chalking up a few rides together. Then in August I tore my calf muscle at tennis, which put a spanner in the works with the cycling for a bit, as well as stuffing with my swimming. (Yep, still doing my swim squads - I think it's about eight years now.) The leg recovered just enough for us to ride in the inaugural Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge in October, though it made the 75km that bit more of a challenge.

Despite the riding and swimming I reached a point where I think I was the heaviest I'd ever been, was too scared to get on the scales, and I realised that just wishing I could/would lose weight wasn't going to cut it. I decided I needed to put money on it, signed up to an online program, which was fantastic. In a bit over 3 months I've so far lost 12 kgs, and feel better than I've felt in years. I just needed that kick up the backside to change my 'head'. The food 'culture' of Christmas will be a challenge, but at least now I know how to manage what I have to do (and not do). I'm not quite done with losing the kilos, but am nearly at a sensible goal weight. It's been a revolution to my whole approach to life - and something that I'm happy to live with forever because I feel so fantastic. My next step is to use what I've learnt to make some other things happen (that I've been procrastinating about for ages) in 2011.

As well as keeping to the swimming and riding, Cait, Zoe and I started going to a Zumba class! Love, love, love it - can't wait to get back into it in the new year. I stepped up my swimming to three squads a week, and I've been riding every Saturday morning - with or without Marc. It's amazing how much easier it is to ride when you're carrying that much less weight.

So the renovations/extensions are finally happening, albeit rather slowly. DA approval came in early in the year, but finishing up design consultations and getting preliminary quotes (eek!) all took time. We ended up deciding we'd be better off (financially and practically) if we did it as Owner Builders. Nowadays that involves doing a course - which Marc did online. Some of the work is stuff that we can do ourselves, so we can make savings there, as well as minimising the extras that a builder would have to include for contingencies. We have made progress with re-doing our top deck, and knocking down the middle verandah - though progress on that has been constantly thwarted by wet weekends. We're also experiencing the fun of chasing various tradesmen for quotes - but it looks like we've finally nailed down a plumber, and an excavator who is actually coming next week to remove tree stumps and the carport slab, in preparation for the concretors to actually do the slabs - front, side and back. The balustrading for the top verandah should arrive next week too.

After the slabs are done we intend to get a builder to do the front extension - a double garage with a bedroom and new bathroom/loo. And to think that we were worried that it would all interfere with Cait's HSC.

During the year we also upgraded the Commodore - to a VW Multivan - something Marc has had his eye on for a while. It's very versatile with the seating, and has already served well as a bus service (occasionally set up in limo mode, which impresses the kids' friends no end), and also without middle seats at all.

Well, that's about a wrap with our 2010 exploits. We're going very low key for Christmas this year, though I've still been racing around the shops at the last minute for food and presents - not sure why when it's just the five of us. One year I intend to escape the madness completely. Know any good desert islands? The weather is not looking the best for our annual Christmas beach time with the forecast predicting rain through till New Year. It would be nice to be able to put the gumboots away and enjoy some of our sun, sand and surf.

Cheers to all, here's to a good year in 2011.