Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tri-ing very hard!

I did my very first Triathlon! Given my recent health kick, I nonchalantly mentioned I would do a triathlon... with no particular one in mind... just one day. I received message from my gym that there was to be a women's only triathlon in Richmond in a couple of weeks. Being assured that it was a really fun race, I started to give it some consideration. I checked the website and there were some 50 places left. I checked it a little later, and there were fewer places. As I procrastinated, the cap of 550 places was being reached. I spoke to Paul about it. He assured me that I didn't have to do the race if I signed up for it... but if I didn't sign up, then I couldn't do the race. With 10 places left, I succumbed... then felt very nervous giving myself only a couple of weeks to prepare.
The Pink Power Triathlon was a sprint: 400m swim, 11 mile bike, 5km run. When I told people I was doing the race, they all noted how 'easy' it would be for such short distances. Paul has competed in a number of Olympic distance triathlons and I have several friends in Brisbane who are super-competitive and have Ironman races in their sights. I, however, have never been the sporty type and have been quite happy to be the spectator of the crazy pursuits of others. These distances seemed a little long to me!
Damage done, I had to prepare.
Very slow transitions, a botched swim - where I thought I was going to have to be dragged from the water, and a morbid fear of crashing my bike, falling off or being hit by a car were overcome by a faster-than-expected run time. I had a blast and finally understood that post-race-euphoria. I now have a 'time' that should be easy to beat with a bit more training and experience. I am now really keen to get the kids involved. Paul and I think Nic will be a natural once he loses his fear of the water!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mr Men & Little Misses

As I child, I loved pulling Roger Hargreaves' Mr Men books from the shelves in our school library. With the simple, bold and colorful drawings, quirky-natured characters and a subtle humor, they really struck a chord with me. One of the best features were the growing collection of Mr Men on the back cover - and the resultant desire to consume each and every one. Paul has similar childhood experiences.

Apparently, Roger Hargreaves invented his first Mr Men, Mr Tickle, in response to his son's innocent question "What does a tickle look like?" Mr Men was later made into an animated television series narrated by Arthur Lowe (from Dad's Army fame). Very subtle, and very English, the series was very faithful to the books. We have taken great pleasure in reading the Mr Men series to our children - and have even picked up some Mr Men paraphernalia along the way.
Not so well known in the States, we were really excited to discover a Mr Men Show on the Cartoon Network. Paul and I were horrified however, to see what had happened to our childhood heroes: misshapen Mr Men (since when was Mr Strong a triangle?), altered names (Mr Fussy becomes Mr Persnickety), ridiculous accents, and totally fabricated Mr Men. So untrue to the original. What an abomination!

Paul found the original Mr Men and Little Miss television series on DVD and had it sent over from the UK. The kids love it. Each episode is around 7 minutes long - so it maintains their interest. The slower pace means it is a brilliant means of quieting the crazy behavior close to dinner time. The boys have developed sneaky ways of avoiding Mietta's request to watch Mr Bump again, and again, and again...

One day during the summer vacation, a request was made to hold a 'Mr Men' party. I satisfied the desire with a batch of Mr Men cupcakes. I followed this recipe for chocolate cupcakes. I had to substitute plain yoghurt for the sour cream as I didn't have any sour cream. The resultant cakes were super-moist, but didn't have the 'domed' top of a usual cupcake. This was OK though, as it make icing easy!

The kids had to be selective with the characters as I was only going to mix limited colors of icing! The chosen cupcakes were Mr Tickle (sans arms) and Mr Bump - with Mr Happy created from the left-over frosting. Mr Tickle could have arms made from jelly snakes perhaps? We all agreed that it would be fun to make a Mr Messy.