The Schmidt Files - 2004

nother year just whizzed by.....  How _did_ that happen? 
 It just doesn't seem possible, but here I am already  in my usual mad tizzy trying to do all the end of year things that I've left till the last minute (despite 'new leaf' resolutions).    I guess it wouldn't be me, and it wouldn't be Christmas otherwise. Doesn't seem long enough ago that I was talking about 2003, and our impending NZ holiday.

I guess I don't have to subject everyone to another 'yearly summary' either.. but as I enjoy catching up with the goss from others, I hope 'youse all' feel the same.  With time speeding up (I swear), and so much happening (I blame the kids!), and  living so far away (from many), keeping in touch with everyone we'd like to sadly seems to fall by the wayside. 

So to make up for it, sort of..., here's the cyber version of the christmas-barbie catch-up-yakety yak. (OK. so it's all one way for the moment... and I'm making the most of it while the kids are still all doing stuff we want to tell you about!!)



We started off the new year with a bang.. (except New Years Eve in NZ was notably devoid of fireworks!)... with the holiday of a lifetime (well, the big type of holiday that you can only justify once in a few years!)  By mid year I finally managed to get our NZ trip all up into a web travel diary...  so sometime when you have nothing better to do, you can view the equivalent of one of those dreaded holiday slide shows in the privacy of your own home without having to stifle the yawns and pretending to look engrossed.    It's a bit like finally getting the holiday snaps in a photo album - although this comes with more than just photo labels!!)    Summary... great trip. NZ is a fab place.  Needed a holiday at the end of it to recover!!  Motorhoming round NZ is the go, even if it is tiring.   And going back again sometime without the kids would also be the go!! Well, we can dream.

Zoe started school this year so we've had all three in the one school for the only time it will happen. Cait goes off to high school next year, which doesn't seem possible, but there you go. Time flies! 

Zoe's verdict on school? She loves it!  She cries if for any reason she can't go to school - like if she is sick.. or the school is closed (like happened on her birthday because of storm damage).  She has had a great teacher this year, who is one in a million really and _I'll_ be teary come the last day.  Zoe's just thrived, and amazed us all with her reading. (something like being up to Level 22, when they hope in Kindy that they'll reach Level 5  -  and she's given herself a hard act to follow by getting an academic achievement award at presentation.

Alison and Cait have also been doing well in the academic stakes, so we can be proud of them in that respect.  Alison would still forget her head if it wasn't screwed on, but we'd like to think she was getting a bit better!   Cait has had the occasional brain fade this year , but in general has been pretty much top of the class with her work **, even if she continues to be our resident drama queen.  And at school a bit methinks.  She harnessed that by playing a fortune teller in the school musical.  Don't have a picture of that, but Alison's class were mermaids, so I had to do some sewing.  (Yes, I'm just a bit chuffed with the end result!)  Zoe's class were penguins in the infants musical earlier in the year. (Only sewed the straps on about 30 penguin capes as my bit there!)

[** Well, I'm sitting here having to eat my words.  Have to revise that to "pretty much top of the year" for Caitlin.  At the school presentation this week she was awarded the Dux of the School award. (Which is the outstanding Academic Achievement award for Yr 6... gets her name on the Honour Board, ra ra (even if they forgot to get it in the school newsletter the next day along with the "major prizewinners" - doh!!))  I even managed to embarrass her by shedding a few tears, so kids kept saying "Caitlin, your mum was crying".    Oh well, on that, she's my daughter, I'm proud,  so I'll cry if I want to!!! ]

 Both C & A got up with their respective Cross Country events at school, made it through District to Zone, and got the school Senior and Junior cross country champion awards because they even  beat the times of the age division above them in the school race.   They also got places with their swimming - getting on to Zone (and Area for Alison.)   A lot of pressure on poor Zoe to follow in their sporting footsteps, but she amazed herself, and us, by running the whole 1 km of her age race in the school cross country, and coming in 7th. 

Alison also won the school junior Spelling Bee and was sent to represent the school at a regional spelling competition (getting to the last round of that!) She somehow keeps getting certificates and book vouchers for it!  - one at the time, and another at the Presentation this week. And  Caitlin came runner up at school in the Senior division...   I'm claiming the spelling genes as mine (seeing as I can't claim the running or swimming!!)


What else with our little angels?  Alison played netball in the local Junior comp as well (got her in a year early) and she really did have a ball. Good little Wing Attack.  Cait had a less satisfactory "small town comp" team experience (read crap coaching and crap team)  but has made up for it by being chosen in the Coffs 12 yrs Rep squad for next year.  They've had a few full on training sessions already, start in earnest come Feb, and the actual team gets selected in March (I think.) Marc's a bit of a frustrated coach  (Nooo... really?!) but can't be there for training.  To be involved he put his hand up to help umpiring, did the exam (got 98% !! ), did a course, and has umpired a couple of Junior games.  He's been agitating to actually get a mixed game happening (so he can have some playing experience!)  and to be able to join a team!! but is meeting with some resistance from the ladies!!!  Small town clubs.... !!  Meanwhile, he sent me along to the AGM at the end of the season, and I've got suckered into being on the committee, kinda sorta, next year.  *sighs*.  I know nothing about playing netball, but I felt bound to do something finally.
Zoe started ballet, Alison gave up ballet, and Cait's kept doing ballet and jazz.  The teacher is retiring and moving away, so decisions will have to be made for next year. Had successfully avoided the full-on dance schools since Cait was in Kindy.

Alison kept Tuesdays free all year so she could start Little Athletics come the end of the year (she wanted to learn how to run fast) We signed Zoe up as well for something to do.    The local club has turned out to be a bloody shemozzle, and I'm completely underwhelmed by the obligation to stand around for 2 hours to see them actually do something active for a grand total of about 15 mins.  And she's not learning a thing from it (ok, so she came home and Marc had to teach her how to do a run up for long jump and triple jump).. so I'm not really prepared to waste time by going there anymore. Dad will just have to make time to teach her what she wants to know.

We've all continued with our swimming (ok, so I make the big girls do it for fitness and general swimming strength and ability - particularly as we live on the beach)).   Zoe recently moved out to the 25 m pool from the beginners pool.  A challenge, being the youngest by quite a way,  but she's rising to it quite spectacularly, and what's more she loves it.   I've continued with my adult squad classes - really the only definite exercise that I do, but I'm hooked.   Been going twice a week, and really feel it if I miss one.   Unfortunately it's not helped in any weight loss plans, but I do tend to sabotage myself.


Seeing I still haven't found myself any gainful employment, I've become more involved at the school this year. (Finally no excuses like having  a preschooler).  I'd walk a mile for Zoe's teacher, so I've not minded doing reading once a week with Zoe's class.  I've made a gazillion library bags for the library to sell to the kids (I call myself the Bag Lady) and  I somehow got myself involved in the canteen committee as secretary, which got me involved in the P & C, and also on the interviewing panel for a new canteen supervisor.  With the new person I've become more involved in making the committee more active...  and feeling obliged to be on canteen more.  I got sucked in to compiling and binding fundraising calendars for the P & C.. so I feel like I've done more than my bit this year.  Unfortunately I feel a real endemic teacher/parent divide  (with all bar  my darling kindy teacher -and about one or two others) and the year is finishing with a bit of a bitter taste , and I'm rethinking my involvement. But it's not the time or place to rant about that here.                                       


Nothing much has changed on the work front for Marc. Too much working away... with many trips being far too long.  I can't even think of where he went earlier in the year, but he's had a few doses of Sumatra in the second half of this year... 3 and 4 weeks stints with barely a week to 2 weeks at home in between.  I try to think of the Frequent Flyer points (and the snore-free nights.)  He played touch when he could most of the year, till he injured his finger in a game the night before my birthday... gave himself a floppy or 'mallet' finger.. which required splinting for 6 weeks (for the snapped tendon to re-knit)... and it's taken nearly another 6 weeks after that for it to have got back to almost normal.  Needless to say he's found that quite frustrating.  He bought a surfboard, a mini-mal, earlier this year, and a wetsuit, but work trips, waiting for the right conditions!,  plus a sore rib (another touch injury), have kept him out of the water... With his body surfing know-how, he's showing reasonable potential in the couple of times he had it out.  Well, I was impressed!  (Yes, having turned 40 this year, I think it's one of those mid-life things.. "If I don't learn to surf now, it'll be too late".)

His 40th was squeezed in between trips to Sumatra...  and he probably only made it home because I'd booked us plane flights to Sydney, and tickets to a Swans match (who inconsiderately lost in the last quarter to a team they should have whipped - I mean, didn't they know we were there for his birthday?!!)    We also managed a walk around Sydney Harbour, which was quite a novelty without the kids (who stayed with Marc's parents who were still up at their Sandy Beach house at the time.) 


Yes, we still have the doggies - they are 13 now! Poor Rattles has had to go on medication for her arthritis after some alarming staggering earlier this year. Costing us a  fortune, but while her mind is still more than willing it's a bit hard to tell her it's all over. 

What else?  Ah yes.  We bought a trailer bike to haul Zoe around on, seeing solo bike riding is progressing slowly (she might be a reading whiz, but she can't tie her shoes and is super nervous on her bike.) Dad's not been around enough for tuition (and Mum's back isn't up to it.) Grand plans for big family bike riding trips.. but it mainly got used when I took the girls to Sydney to stay with my parents, and to check out some of the bike tracks there. (Marc was deserting us for school hols, so he was 'required' to set up the car to carry 3 bikes and a trailer bike before he left.)  In August he bought me a new bike... so we're all geared up and ready to do it.  Just need to find the time. 
We've not achieved as much around the house as we should have.. (ie. just about zilch) .. although we did finally get some shelves the other week (nice ones!  - three of them, in different widths, with room to unpack all our books after about 10 years!)), and a new lounge is arriving any day.  I pulled down the horrible lace curtains, bought material to make new ones (already cut into drops), but haven't "got round to it yet", much to Marc's disgust. (Library bags seem to have taken precedence, so it might be time to pass on that mantle to someone else as well.)   Marc did find time to build  me a new computer... so we have a network of three lined up on the end of the loungeroom when he's hooked up his laptop.  I still probably spend far too much time online. One day perhaps I'll manage to turn a hobby into money, but I'll have to get a tad more serious about it all, though I live in hope that someone will one day go 'hey, wow, can I pay you to do that for me?'.

So to the business end of the year..  We decided to stay home for Christmas for a change. Getting a bit sick of arranging for Santa to find us, never mind the mad packing and the inevitable stinking hot drive, during which we look at each other and wonder why the heck we are leaving the beach for the smog. (Still haven't got over last year's Christmas Day in Pennant Hills.) "Beach and BBQs" is this year's Xmas theme for us.   The canyons still beckon, though, and so we are still going to do the Blue Mountains thing, but not till January.   Holiday house at Mt Vic this time,  (7th - 14th) and Caitlin's induction into canyoning.  Also have 2 days "tent" shopping in Sydney before that... with grandiose plans to get kitted up so we can get away camping on weekends.  All to fit in the back of the station wagon (the Commodore we bought from Marc's parents a year ago)... or if we get a 4WD. 

 (Yes, we still have the van; it was in for surgery over a year ago, and turns out the mechanic stuffed up, which caused dramas with getting home from Sydney, and dramas with trying to sell it during the year.   A trip to VW specialists in Sydney, settlement of $500 back from the original mechanic, and she's all better, but we haven't got round to selling her again, and are wasting money on being a 3 vehicle family.)

 So, yes.. Holidays...  In those 2 days, kids are staying at the grandparents, and Marc and I are 'overflowing' to my sister's.   As usual it'll be a whirlwind trip, but we'll have days in the Blue Mountains for picnics and walks if anyone's close enough and interested.  Otherwise the offer to visit us here is always there (even if I can't always guarantee that the man of the house will be in town... don't start me.....))

So that's about it in a nutshell. (A very big nutshell...)                                             




Tracey (the scribe) &  Marc


Cait, Ali and Zoe