Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sparkly Street Family Update.

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Last night I made a roast pork dinner for the family; Fixit and I loved it, Climber quite liked it, Cherub ate it but didn't enjoy it. Kids. Cherub eats a wider range than he used to but is still basically a fussbudget, or, as we say, maintains constant vigilance against our pathetic attempts to poison him.  He insists, despite my persistent cajoling, that he doesn't like gravy.  Obviously he's crazy, how can anyone not like gravy?  Mind you, Fixit insists he doesn't like pork crackling, we don't even bother telling him he's crazy, we are too busy fighting over it.

After we ate, we played card games together, even Fixit who says he doesn't like card games. (We were going to play Jenga but we couldn't find our Jenga set. Maybe I gave it away when we moved, but that sounds crazy.)  We played Billionaire and Uno, and it was really fun.

While we were playing, Basil ran through the house with a smallish rat in his mouth. Fixit charged up to our bedroom to deal with it, the rest of us followed bringing the plastic container needed to remove the rat. When we got up to the bedroom (it's quite a long hallway) Fixit and Basil were both hunting around near the window, trying to find the rat which the stupid cat had let go. Suddenly I saw something moving on the lace curtains, and there was the rat, scaling the lace. I may have shrieked, it was so perfectly a reminder of how rats could totally run up your leg if you didn't stand on a chair when one was loose.  The rat got right to the top of the curtains very quickly indeed, so Fixit did the only sensible thing he could, and picked the cat up overhead and said there it is you idiot, whereupon Basil launched himself up and across, like a top soccer goalie making an amazing save, and snaffled it. We all cheered like mad. Then we took the rat away from him, for humane disposal. He hates it when we do that, but based on his prior record, we really can't trust him not to lose a rodent. Although about a month ago I witnessed him eating a mouse whole, it was disgusting. PS this is a cat who only eats THE most expensive catfood.

Afterwards we noticed that our lace curtains got torn during the kerfuffle. I don't know if I should try and patch the tears or keep a look-out in op-shops for a replacement set.

Torn curtains and culprit sleeping in the foreground

In other news, Cherub's voice is breaking. He's very croaky, much more so than Climber ever was.  It's keeping us entertained. He can't reach any high notes any more, but his attempts to do so are very funny. He is still not as tall as me but his man-nose is coming in. He says his nostrils are as wide as his face and is not impressed, but we think he'll grow into his new nose.  He is liking high school.

Watching the Socceroos.

The soccer season has started. We're crossing our fingers that both boys' teams get re-graded down a level so we don't have to suffer watching them get flogged every week like last year.

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Last night I was woken up by a thunderstorm. I'm much braver about thunderstorms than I used to be. I just rolled over and went back to sleep

Today we went grocery shopping as a family and as we packed the car I banged by head really hard on the edge of the boot.  Pretty sure I'll be having a Lump from that.

Cherub made chocolate chip cookies today, the only thing he ever bakes. He was galvanised after seeing white chocolate chips at the supermarket so we bought them for him.

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Climber helped him for a bit. Climber is a very accomplished baker and recently made croissants from scratch with this best mate

Croissants from scratch by Climber and his bestie. Delish. Talk about flexing your baking muscles, this process took two days.

Climber has been growing some sunflowers from seed, and they've just bloomed. I think he was inspired after his girlfriend (they've been together 6 months, she goes to a different school and she's very nice but rather shy with us) expressed a desire to punch a sunflower. For him to grow them for her so she could realise her dream of punching a sunflower is so sweet, and very like the sort of thing Mister Fixit would also do. But I hope she doesn't actually punch the sunflowers.

Sunflowers on a grey day

Just thought I should actually start writing some stuff down again. The days whizz past so quickly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Last year of primary school

Well it's official - Cherub is enrolled for High School! His - and our - final year of primary school is slipping away so quickly, and I am not doing a very good job of recording it here!  So here are a few of the recent happenings for my Grade 6 boy.

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Last night we watched his last ever primary school production, the Grade 5/6 kids doing Alice in Wonderland Jnr. Their normal drama teacher went on leave this term, and Cherub and his friends, who had been keenly looking forward to their last ever big production with that teacher, were very underwhelmed by the sudden change of plan.  They didn't put themselves forward for roles, and told us it was lame.  Which was a shame, and I kept exhorting them to change their tune and make the best of it. The show must go on etc. They looked unconvinced.

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Actually, the show was completely fine. They hired costumes for it, and Cherub looked very cute in his lion suit.  Well, I'm pretty sure he was meant to be a lion. Other guesses include a dog, or a possum or a werewolf.  But his classmates looked quite like the cast of The Lion King, so I'm going with lion. We're still unclear as to what place wild animals have in the Alice in Wonderland storyline, but at least we parents didn't have to sew anything this year. The wig/mane looked so much like Cherub's own hair first thing in the morning that he was very easy to identify on stage.  As always, his dancing was very good indeed, and he fulfilled my stage mother requirements by being in the front row, although whether he was put there because of height or merit is unclear.

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The best thing about it was it was very short, so we were none of us too tired to enjoy our traditional post-show gelati.

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In other 'lasts' of primary school, Cherub had his final ever Bookweek Parade. A few years ago he went as Frodo from Lord of The Rings, this year he was determined to be Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit.

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He insisted he needed a red coat, not too long, and we eventually found one to borrow from my sister.  I also made him a little green vest from a jumper I'd accidentally partially felted in a hot wash.  To make the ears I sewed some foam padding  rounds in half and threaded them on to a hairband made from hat elastic. Threading them meant the ears were adjustable on his head, I was actually pretty pleased with myself for thinking that design through.  I found a shirt and some shorts at the opshop, and for his overlarge and hairy bare hobbit feet we put a pair of Fixit's brown socks over a pair of sandshoes with some padding down the end, then used some flesh-coloured knee high stockings over the top, which we drew hairs all over.  It worked really well. He already had the Hobbit Sword and a Ring, but he didn't look for the ring until leaving time and it was nowhere to be found, so I had to quickly fashion one out of picture wire.

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Here he is going off to school in costume with all his bags for Friday (music, futsal and school) ...

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...and here he is parading.

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While we're playing catch-up, here are some shots of the Friday Night Futsal team that Cherub has been playing in these last two terms with his school buddies.  All the kids really progressed throughout the season, and they even made it to the finals, which is so good considering they only started this year.

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Also a shot from Cherub's last week of soccer, because hooray, soccer season is over and we don't need to be always taking the kids to soccer!

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And we don't have to be the Team Managers any more, which was stressful and boring and bad for our relationship. Note to self, don't say yes to that job ever again.  Cherub's team played in a division too high for their abilities this year, so they got thrashed most weeks. Just at the very end of the season they started to hit their straps, and so they managed one win against the second-worst team and a draw against the 3rd-worst team, before finishing the season losing 8-0 to the league champions.  We were all pretty ecstatic the week they won, I can tell you! Here's the Team Captain looking happy.  He worked his guts out all season in defence, and made us proud every game.

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To end this post on a good note : here are the lads enjoying a delicious home-cooked breakfast of pancakes and bacon for Mister Fixit.
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Happy Fathers Day.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Winter in Somers

Following the success of our Walkerville holiday, Jenny, Astrid and I decided to organise another Mothers Group holiday house adventure for the July school holidays with all the Mums-and-kids. (Two of the Mothers Group Dads also put in guest appearances, but they were mostly stuck in Melbourne with work.)  We found a big house in a town called Somers on the Mornington Peninsula and went off for a Winter-in-Somers adventure.

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The house we rented had 3 bedrooms with double beds, plus a bunk room, so we Mums shared the bunk room and split the kids into the big beds. The pairings-up were: firstborn girls, second-born girls, boys, and a cupboard in the boys' room (really a sizeable walk-in wardrobe) for Harry Potter Jen's third-born girl.  In the boys' room, Cherub eschewed sharing the big bed with his brother because he was desperate to try out our self-inflating-mattress-from-Aldi, and Astrid's boy also came with his own mattress, so Climber managed to be the most luxuriated child with a queen size bed plus electric blanket for his very own. The kids took over the downstairs living area for their own, but were quite often to be found in the upstairs living area too.  We had beautiful views from the deck out to Westernport Bay, an enormous table for mealtimes, and some comfortable lounges for lounging.

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View from the deck

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Downstairs living area

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Upstairs living area

The first job after sorting out the sleeping arrangements was to organise the division of labour.  We put the focussed second-borns on the job of devising the Kids' Chores Roster.

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It was an excellent roster, and was put together fairly and thoroughly.  All older children were expected to give the little kids a hand with their jobs if needed, and this happened consistently and without any adult intervention.  What a great bunch of kids.  The roster worked tremendously well all week.

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No shirking, fighting or nagging.  Here it is in all its colour-coded glory.

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Jen, Astrid and I handled the cooking with a meal plan we'd put together back in Melbourne.

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We enjoyed some delicious family meals while we were there, thanks to Head Chef Jenny's excellent meal planning skills.

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Rice paper rolls and fried rice.

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 Chocolate ripple cake

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Hot dogs for the children, soup for the adults 

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Snakes, not an actual meal but a bit of group eating nonethelesss.

I decided to poach some quinces and pears the day before we went away, proper poaching which took over 8 hours, and used them to make a delicious crumble dessert for our first night.

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It was accompanied by the lightest and fluffiest whipped cream ever, provided by Climber who put his strength to good use with the pure cream and an old-fashioned Nana egg-beater.  It was most delicious.

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 On the first day the adults decided to go for a walk down to the nearby beach, but the children declined the offer to come with us, opting instead to play games in the house.  It was a rather steep descent with a great many steps to reach the beach, and when we got to the bottom it seemed as though the beach might be inaccessible because it was high tide and that the waves came right up to wall.

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However, we worked out that it was possible, in between waves, to make a dash for the next set of stairs and the next, so off we went!

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Somers Beach was almost completely covered in ankle-deep seaweed, and looked, to quote Anthony, like every cassette tape in the world had been unravelled there.  We ploughed on through it for a good long walk.

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We got home to find the children had discovered pillow-fighting, something they did quite a lot of over the week.

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Eventually the pillow-fighting took its toll on Cherub's inflatable mattress and we had to retire one (we'd bought 2 with us) until Fixit could do some puncture repair.  Cherub was slightly upset about his damaged bed and was afterwards very assiduous in deflating it each morning, before the pillow-fighting began.

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We had decided every morning that we'd have 'Fit Club' and Jenny, being a very organised individual, had brought with her some bootcamp-ish programs and some equipment like cones and skipping ropes.  It was actually a lot of fun to do it every day, and the kids enjoyed taking part too.  The first morning we held it in the backyard, and asked a couple of the non-participating children to take some photos.

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Lucky-Dip Exercise Program bootcamp.

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I made them all do planks.  I'm working on my core strength this year.  There was whinging, although they're smiling here.

One morning we did Fit Club in a playground with a Flying Fox. We all had to have a go on the Flying Fox, although obviously we grown-ups had to wait a while for our turns.

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We make these holidays device-free (although television was allowed) so the kids have to make their own fun, in between activities organised by us for their enjoyment.  There tended to be at least one pillow-fight per day, and quite a lot of board games were played too.  There was also some jigsaw puzzle action, and Astrid, in particular, became slightly addicted.  I think 2 or 3 puzzles were completed in total, Astrid did most of the work, with the kids crowding in at the end.

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Hide and Seek was also popular with this crowd, as usual.  This looks like  an early-morning game, judging by the onesies. Once you've been found you go around with the seeker to find the others.

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They also played outside with the soccer balls and netballs. I don't think the deck was the best place for playing soccer.

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We even had a bit of tap-dancing, not in tap shoes though.

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And then there were the organised activities. Walks on the beach for a game of Run To The Next Safe Spot Before The Wave Gets You.

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A visit to the market at Bittern, where we started our collection of photographs featuring each person with an item that rhymed with their name for the now traditional Holiday Gif (see below).  In adherence to another Mothers Group tradition, we also asked the kids to pose for a photograph in age order, which is a different concept to height order.  They are all holding up the stuff they bought with the five dollars they'd each been given to spend at the market.  (The money was predominantly spend on sugar, quelle surprise.)

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How did this even work? asked Cherub.

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We went to the nice and mostly seaweed-free beach at Point Leo, where the kids decided to re-create the town of Plumbington (basically a sand town with drainage channels) that they'd made together in Walkerville.

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The water is the invading enemy in Plumbington.  You have to try and keep it out.

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It was cold, which you maybe can't tell from seeing all these children in swimwear?
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This is how sensible people were dressed for that expedition. Brrrr.
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Afterwards we went to Balnarring in search of sausage rolls (not as easy as we'd thought it would be, there was a temporary shortage right when we wanted them in bulk) and then sweet treats from the bakery.

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Fixit rode his bike down to have dinner with us on the Sunday.  His mean work were being mean about giving him holidays. Again.

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Jenny's horse-mad daughter made good use of our proximity to my horse-mad sister, who owns a horse and let Bell ride it.  My Mum was also visiting my sister during our time in Somers so it was nice and easy to pop over and visit them all.

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We also took the kids to the historic homestead and bird-watching/wetland grounds at Coolart.  The kids were not made aware of the fact that there'd be a big walk as part of this activity.  Look at them heading in. So unsuspecting.

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The middle kids even practiced their leapfrog skills.

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We headed off down the walking trail, and the kids posed for the camera.  This is right before they started a game of pretending to pose for Jen and Astrid and then running off before the cameras could be brought to bear.

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Meanwhile my two took the walk at a more leisurely pace.

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We caught up  eventually.

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We saw lagoons and bridges.

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We sat in the hides and watch some waterbirds.

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Then we went to the nice barbecue area for a reviving lunch. Some of the kids climbed trees whilst waiting for the sausages to cook.

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We finished off by going inside the house, which the adults enjoyed for history and the kids enjoyed for exploring.  We dissuaded the children from sliding down the banister of the grand staircase.

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Then it was time for the boys and I to go home, collecting my Mum from my sister's house and bringing her back with us to Melbourne so she could see our new house.

Mum visits our new house.

I love these Mothers Group holidays. Not too much work, and plenty of fun, as a good holiday should be.