Saturday, December 29, 2007

Our Christmas in Canberra

So the car trip was lo-o-ong, but we borrowed my dad's station wagon for extra comfort / luggage space and the boys were good. Especially when they were asleep. Cherub got a bit whiney, he hasn't really grasped the concept of time yet. Didn't matter how many times we said all day in answer to his how much longer? He kept right on asking...

There was an abundance of good food at my sister's house, and thankfully I had Fixit to shell my prawns for me despite the scoffings of my sister and brother-in-commonlaw. I know how to do it, I just don't like to. He peeled a stash for me, then began work on his own (chivalry is alive and well, wouldn't you say) but then got so busy talking that he failed to notice that I swiped another 4 from his plate. Heh heh heh. The prawns were for Christmas Eve. For Christmas Day we had roast turkey and all the trimmings, plus ham. Because even though we celebrate in summertime, we enjoy a roast dinner for Christmas and thankfully there was an industrial sized barbecue out front to do most of the work.

Climber was a bit concerned Santa might not know his way round Bronnie's house. So he left him a note. THIS WAY. Such a thoughtful boy; I guess all the other years that poor Santa delivered there he's just had to stumble round in the dark ...

There were puppies. Five of them. Staffordshire / blue heeler crosses, 5 weeks old. Climber was very taken with them and if ever we couldn't find him we'd look out in the back yard. There he'd be, with at least one in his lap. Sometimes sitting on the swing, gently rocking back and forth. Fixit was also partial to playing with them and has the tiny nip marks all over his feet to prove it.
Though between the pups and their mother, the traditional Christmas game of backyard cricket was impeded somewhat.
Cherub quite liked them, but he preferred his boy-cousin's train set. Or playing on the swings with his girl-cousin.

On the left here you can see my step-nephew. (Whose baby brother failed to materialise in time for us to meet him. And is baking still as far as we know.) On Christmas day I was getting to know him by doing a high-5 routine with him : You say High-5 (hand held up high for a slap) On the side (hand held to the side for a slap) Down low (hand held low for a slap before you whip it away to say:) Too slow! Or if playing with littlies you leave it there and say Too fast! So I was greatly tickled when he came back the next day, convinced that my name was High-five. Fixit, he'd say and point. Gwandma Margwet, pointing again. But no matter how much we said No, Caroline for me, he insisted. High-fwive, High-fwive.

There was a lot of family portraiture going on in the backyard and I hope there'll be some super shots from Bronnie's flash camera. Here's one from mine though, my mum with my sister and brother and me on Christmas day. How nice, how rare.

Before we left, Bron gave Climber a ride on her horse, something that her own kids do regularly and with confidence.

The trip back was, well, lo-o-ong. As we drove back to Melbourne, Climber whiled away the dullness by composing a letter. To the horse. I think we can safely say that the horse-riding, not to mention the trip away, was a hit.
And here we are back again, in the midst of a foul Melbourne heatwave. In our revoltingly hot house. And me a single parent while Fixit swans off to Mount Beauty for a three day bike-ride-with-the-lads on the New Bike.

So remember the wild-eyed screeching harridan from last week's episode? Sadly she's already made a couple of re-appearances. Once because Cherub whinged incessantly about being given the wrong sort of ice cream cone and once because Climber put the heater on after his bath and I didn't notice so it stayed on for half an hour,warming up the revoltingly hot house still more.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Pre-Christmas Burn-out and the Bad Attitude

Climber and Cherub at the crèche Christmas party
I've been a grump about Christmas this year; resenting going to perfectly nice parties with people I like, stressing over buying presents for people I love and getting a sick knot in my stomach about sending Christmas messages out to people I care for. I'm trying to see the good side I really am, and trying not to alienate my friends by relentlessly acting the put-upon martyr, but to be quite honest I'll be glad when the many things we have to do are over and we are home again with nothing to do and no-one to see. Because maybe then I will relax and bloody well cheer up. At the moment, even I'm bored with my attitude. My fuse with the kids has been less than a centimetre I reckon, one word out of line this week and they've been confronted with a wild-eyed screeching hag, no warning, no build-up. Poor little boys. And them so tired and hyped up with party food and presents-anticipation.

My mum and Cherub inspect the Myer Christmas windows
We are off to Canberra tomorrow, to stay at my sister's house. Joining us round the Christmas table will be my mum & my brother (unless his wife goes into labour!! Which I'm almost hoping she will, selfishly disregarding her Christmas feast expectations in the hope of meeting my new nephew-to-be) . We three siblings have not had a Christmas together since I dunno how long, so it is exciting. Or it will be once we get past all this business of packing and driving...
...Are we there yet?

Fixit and Climber at the Fixit Family pre- Christmas party
Before we go, I thought I should mention that Climber received an excellent school report, so good that he was rewarded with instant lego from my emergency present stash. His effort and class behaviour could have needed attention, could have been acceptable, could have been very good but were in fact excellent. Fixit and I are so proud. Hope it's not all downhill from here. Can you imagine us in VCE/Year 12, begging him to apply himself and wailing but you were SO GOOOOOD in Grade One!

Anyway, despite my grouches & grumbles, I do intend to have fun being with my family and especially with my boys on Tuesday. Watching their delight on Christmas morning will surely make this bad mood disappear.

From all of us in the Stomper Household we wish all who visit here a
very happy Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Purple sparkly minidresses

A little while ago I received an email from an event organiser looking for a tap-dancing act.
Hi there, I run a gay girls event called Blonde on the Rocks, in the cbd. Throughout our night we have a variety of shows that we put on. We've had a variety of shows so far consisting of hoola, circus tricks, topless tap dancing, skipping (professional), burlesque, classy stripping, contortion, fire tricks, puppetry with a twist and the list goes on.

Anyway I noticed on a flier that you have a troupe called the Tap-Pets and thought it was worth asking whether your girls have any stylised routines they'd be interested in performing at our night? For solo shows we pay $xx per show and for duos or more we pay $xx per show. Our favourite topless tapper has left our shores for a married life in xx so we miss our tapping routines!

Anyway if you think they're be interested and think they'd be up for the task, let me know.
I wrote back and said that while we could definitely provide a tap act, there was no way on earth it could be a topless one. I'm pretty comfortable with my body, but not quite that comfortable - especially seeing as I've breastfed 2 kids. Plus the other girls are my students and I didn't feel right asking them to do it. But the organiser said she wasn't even looking for a topless tap-dancer, she just missed having tapping at the shows because she loved it so. In that case, I replied, we're your gals. So then she felt duty-bound to warn me that we'd have to be very comfortable with performing in front of a crowd of adoring ladies. We thought about it for maybe 5 seconds and decided we could live with being adored.

Work began. We already had one act, some specky a'cappella tap leading into a sultry number to a Nina Simone song called I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl. But we had 2 performance slots on the night so I choreographed a feel-good routine to Mariah Carey's All I want for Christmas is you, to complement the Christmas theme.

Our costumes were whipped up by my dear friend Jenny who unlike me is a very good sewer. For which I can't thank her enough. As you can see, the costumes are purple. And sparkly. And short, very short. As it turned out though, we were slightly overdressed compared to the other performers...

Naturally, such purple sparkliness needed to be accompanied by red lipstick and false eyelashes. For a change, I affixed mine first go ... ... but Kaye and Jodie were wimps and after a failed attempt gave it up.

Making my list was a good idea (and essential given that prior to the show was Cherub's crèche Christmas party, which is why my performance list also includes items like wrap small presents and cook Shrek patties); it meant that I did not forget my Santa hat for the Christmas routine. Unlike Mel. Fortunately the barmaid had one, even though it was black and said "naughty" on the brim. Which given the vibe of the show was actually okay but I wished we'd realised before we went on that the 'naughty' writing had red flashing lights inbuilt because how cool would that have been?

This is half a shot of the very crowded dressing room, which was home to the assorted barely dressed performers and the glasswasher and ice-machine. There were a couple of burlesque girls, a hula hoop artiste, some belly-dancers and the occasional venue staff navigating their way through holding a tray of glasses.

We were the opening act, with our Nina Simone routine and it went really well, you could tell they liked us. But it was our second number later in the evening that really went off. From the opening strains of Mariah crooning I don't want a lot for Christmas to us leaving the stage waving and blowing kisses, we were adored. Totally and utterly. And it was one of those performances that everything went right, and I can recall it with perfect clarity because it was fun and I felt completely focussed and there were all these chicks smiling and dancing and clapping and stamping and trying to tap and cheering and screaming and whooping. It was SO MUCH FUN!!!! Then we were led through the crowd and girls were stopping us left, right and centre to tell us how great it was. I could get used to that, I reckon.

Jodie, me, Kaye and Mel

I got stopped as I walked through the crowd and asked if I was gay. When I replied (apologetically) in the negative, she said she could tell really but that it was a shame.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Boys and their Toys

Okay, so I admit it was me that started the ball rolling on the early Christmas present stuff with my very comfy purple shoes. And then on the weekend we had our Mothers' Group Christmas party...

...where of course the boys each received some early cheer. Climber is pictured here with a book that folds out into a castle...

...whilst here you see Cherub proudly displaying his goodies:

... a "Cool Tie" (made by my talented friend Jenny, it has silicon beads in the middle section which, when you soak it in cool water, swell up and retain the moisture so your neck stays cool for hours; Climber had one so Cherub wanted one too) and a Pengie (both my kids have a penguin obsession which predates Happy Feet. Go on watch the clip, it's very cute and only takes a minute...)

But Fixit has gone and trumped us all with his early Christmas present to himself. Oh yes. Guess what he bought? Go on....

..have a guess.

Here's a clue.

Yep. It's a new bike.

I should probably say straight off that I am fine with him having a new bike. He's been talking all year about fixing up and selling the old ones so that he can buy one. And he's my love, you know, I want him to have things that make him happy. I even understand why he rushed the purchase through and brought it home in the worst financial month of the year:- because he has a bike ride planned straight after Christmas and I totally see that anyone would want the shiny new bike for that. I'm pleased for him and I really love seeing how happy and excited he is, like say when he mentions nonchalantly that he really ought to ride it in to work this morning instead of the pushbike because the new tires need scrubbing in.

But, umm.. now we have three. Three motorbikes, people. And I'm pretty sure that makes us bogans, seeing as how we now have an equal ratio of persons to automobiles in our house. *Sigh* I don't want to be a bogan, I'm so rude about them all the time.

And I wasn't aware till after the bike was all but home that we were getting a loan to pay for it; I just assumed it was coming out of some payouts Fixit had earlier in the year that had actually already been spent on boring things like dentistry and other crap. Never assume people, it makes an ass of u + me. It has all really made me see that Fixit and I don't discuss money very much. Which, you know, maybe we should. Because on the one hand, there's me trying not to overspend at Christmas time, meantime whoopee!! New Shiny Bike!!

He has promised to spend January fixing up the other 2 for sale, and really the main reason he hasn't already done that is that large amounts of his spare time get taken up with being a functioning, contributing member of our household, with dish-washing and lawn-mowing and child-minding the boys while I'm out teaching and actually hanging out with us at weekends and stuff. And I can see that he feels a bit guilty about it so in no sense do I want to beat him over the head. BUT..... the minute he sells two-thirds of our massive bike collection he and I will be going to Ikea to get the long-promised new couch! So that we can finally replace Nell's-Ex's-Nan's-Couch which, for an object that was designed to be comfortable to sit on, is ridiculously UN-comfortable to sit on. Ask Crafty, she's sat on it, she'll back me up on this.

'Til then, folks, I will be dressing up in sparkly purple minidresses, wearing makeup and ladyshoes, as I fight the pink corner in this wheel-obsessed household. I doubt the Honda Hornet will be only boys' toy arriving in our household over the festive season somehow. Sometimes its tough being the only girl.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The pits.

As we were driving to school this morning, the boys played with 2 empty tic-tac boxes.

They've actually had hours of fun playing with them, they're quite the car-entertainment toy. No need for portable dvd players in this family! Anyway, today's game was all about squirting. For example, Cherub used his tictac-pretend-squirter to *clean* the window; as you can imagine it is now totally smeary from his efforts. I wasn't really paying attention to all the psss psss noises coming from the back until I heard Climber say I'm pretending I'm a teenager and I'm quite big and starting to be smelly, so I have to squirt my armpits. Psss psss. Psss psss.
Which naturally got him to thinking about armpits, and the tictac box was dumped as his hand cupped the 'pit area so he could crack out a few armpit farts. Can your Dad do armpit farts? he asked me as he pumped away. I said we'd have to ask him next time we saw him. The entire male population of Grade One at his school is obsessed with doing armpit farts. Samuel can do knee farts and Andrew can do them with his neck. Oh and Samuel's Dad invented them, did you know? The funniest sight at school swimming this year was watching the 30-odd kids while they were lined up waiting for class to start - all the small fellows were pumping their little chicken wing arms furiously.

While we're talking about the pits, the rent did go up. The agent said $15 a week, so more for form's sake then because I thought it would do any actual good I said Fifteen??? and he got all nervous and said Is that a problem? and I said Last time it was ten and he said Okay I can make it ten, is that alright? Now I wish I'd gone in harder, but I was so resigned to it going up that I just said fine.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

There's no business like shoe business.

I started my Christmas shopping today - the easy stuff ie. gifts for all the children in our life. But ..err.. don't tell Fixit, somehow my day of shopping started with me walking into a shoe-shop and buying some shoes for myself.

And ..err.. don't tell Elda, I paid full retail price for them too. No discounts, reward points or great deals.

In my defence though, they are purple.

What's more, the shops were full of great purple stuff which was a little bit distracting seeing as I was supposed to be buying things for everyone else. Therefore my Mum is getting something purple too; she is a fan so no conflict of interest there. Also there were a couple of nice purple things that I really wanted, just small stuff, and so I decided to get them as Climber's and Cherub's presents to me this year; what? I'm just saving Fixit from the embarrassment of him receiving presents from me and each of the boys, which would then make him grab the (totally great and no doubt well-thought out and spoiling) single solitary present and say heartily and boys this is from ALL of us. I'm only thinking of him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The house is due for a clean anyway, I know it has to be done. But I have this pressing deadline - the annual property inspection this afternoon by the real estate agent (on behalf of the landlord).

Neither Fixit or I really like this house. It is revoltingly hot in summer. May as well live in a tent. It's got a poky, foul bathroom which I resent every time I use it. The grouting is shoddy; cleaning it is a nightmare and never repays the effort. The carpets are scungy (rental standard carpets, you know the sort) and look crappy even straight after I've vacuumed. The tiles in the living area are cracked & pale coloured and show every speck of dirt. I have to be a complete tyrant apres-mop if I don't want it ruined again an hour later. Which is no fun for anyone.

Of course it's not all bad. We have great neighbours. (Sadly the Crafty mob are moving soon, we are trying not to think about this). And we have a fantastic backyard. The location is not bad for shops, tranport and such. None of this really helps though, when I have to do the cleaning and I. Don't. Want. To.

The reason for my grumble is I just know they are going to put the rent up the second they finish the inspection, clean house or no, so the effort is even less appealing than usual. If that's possible.

And if any of you know where the stick/tube part of my vacuum cleaner is, let me know because I AM VACUUMING ON MY HANDS AND KNEES.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grrr! or I ain't no hollaback girl

Without being too sure what exactly comprises an alpha-type personality, I'm pretty sure I'm not one. Not quite. I think I have traces of it, I was the kid achieving extremely well in school until the family implosion when I was in Year 12. And I am an oldest child and therefore bossy, and I like to be the centre of attention.

However, in the career stakes I am a bit of a hippy drop-out, opting for family and personal cosy-ness over the Real Job. (Which is not to say other people can't have both, just that this is not what I want to do in my life). Maybe when I am older I will be sad I never explored my full potential (could I have been a high-flying lawyer?) but I'm willing to risk that. And obviously the not having much money can occasionally be a drag. But as I see it, I am very happy in my life at present. I do have a career of sorts; I even have My Own Business, and this, to my mind, is not to be sneezed at. I love my job, I think I'm good at it and I'm able to be home with the kids during the day and out fulfilling my creative urges at night. And it's not like we're broke, we have all we need. What we don't have is The Great Australian Dream Mortgage. Cest la vie.

Elda and I were discussing all this recently, and were wondering if we were A-minus or B+ types. Is there such a thing? Because both of us have been told that we are scary/intimidating by various people in our lives and we always walk away after those comments mentally shaking our heads. See the thing is, I am a complete coward. Physically and emotionally. The lengths I will go to NOT have a confrontation are ..well .. really long!! I'll bend, I'll fold. I reckon it's only since having kids that I've learned to have a medium-sized yell at other people, but I need to be incandescent with rage to actually do this. And it's rare that I reach that level of rage; on the whole I walk a happy walk, and only stray as far as 'irritable' territory if I fall off the happy path. Trade secret: if you yell at me, chances are I will back down. The good news is that Fixit is not very shouty. We have mild little grumps at each other and hardly ever fight. That's how we like it.

I think the scary reputation comes from a few things:
  • Not being very good at disguising my irritability.
  • edited to add: Having opinions. And being competitive.
  • Suffering from occasional bouts of foot-in-mouth. Must. Think. Before. Opening. Mouth. But don't we all do that? And I usually pay for these faux pas with a week's worth of agonising and kicking myself.
  • Being very bad at waking up of a morning and therefore very grumpy if I don't get to "come-to" in my preferred way (sitting in bed for a good half an hour with a cup of tea, arranging my thoughts for the day) This really only applies if you stay at our house and try to talk to me too early. *cough*Bronnie*cough*
  • Being a reasonably strict mother. Eg. once my kids are in bed, they are not welcome to get back up again and I will roar to enforce this. I don't find them cute when they get back up, even when Climber comes out all docile and says he needs a hug, something that obviously works on Fixit on the nights I go out to teach. And I'm bossy about manners and tend not to cut kids much slack in this department.
  • Being quite confident about many parts of myself and my life. You know, except for all those bits I feel desperately insecure about.
The most recent person to have called me scary (not to my face) was a teenager, and I understand this, because I'm not good with teenagers. I'm probably as scared of them as they are of me, really. I'm hoping to be better with them when my kids hit that age. In the meantime, don't be scared. My bark and my bite are quite pathetic, actually.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Somebody pinch me

Do we ever.


We did.

I'm still a bit stunned.
But I'd really like to send Maxine McKew an enormous bunch of flowers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Hmm. I marked my 200th post by discussing vomit. That would be right.

Despite my intentions of being the sort of parent who gives a whole-picture, objective-and-balanced answer to questions about life, sex, politics and religion, the response I actually gave to Climber's questions about elections turned into a full-blown political rant. Which I suppose just goes to show how anxious and wound-up I am about the outcome of this weekend's national election. Anyway, today of his own volition and with no prompting from me except I helped him with some spelling, he made a newspaper.

Look at that, in one quick discussion I have indoctrinated my child.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Climber drank too much fruit juice at a party.

So the thing I've discovered about bunk beds? Is that if the child in the top bunk vomits comprehensively, the clean-up is


involving the upper and lower bunk bedding, the curtains, the bed slats and the wallpaper.

And the usually faithful Iron-guts, aka Mister Fixit, who generally handles the vomit clean-ups, (yes, I am a pathetic wimp) was still out at that same party so the whole thing took me ages what with all the trying not to breathe in the fumes, and the climbing up and down, and the bewildered rudely awoken Cherub following me around (Climber was attending to his own cleanup in the bath) wanting drinks of water and to know if it was breakfast time yet.

Friday, November 16, 2007

That Fete-ful Day

Climber's School's Fete.

Pictorial evidence of the difference between boys aged 6 and boys aged 4.

Chairplane 6.
No worries, rode it a couple of times as a form of flight-simulation-training for the real whizzy ride, aka The Cha-Cha.


Chairplane 4.
No actual fuss or meltdown, but when a little girl early on in that same ride went into screaming hysterics and they had to stop it and let her off, Cherub very quietly and nimbly hopped down and came and sat in my lap. Looking relieved.

Getting High 6.
Did I mention we call him the Climber?


Getting High 4
And don't think his big brother wasn't in there too, bouncing away like a happy kangaroo, off the walls, turning somersaults, narrowly missing smaller children etc.

Going Down 6.
Face first. Natch.


Going Down 4.


Due to parental duties on the Grade Stalls we had to stay All Day. Best decision I made was buying the Cherub this:
He carried it round all day like a security blanket. When I worked the Clothing Stall he sat happily under the table with the hospital and rested his tired little legs, and if we hadn't had it he could never have lasted so long.

Our class had to run 2 stalls this year, so I worked the Clothing Stall shift and Fixit took the Sausage Sizzle. Except he unwittingly upgraded himself and worked half his shift on the Gourmet Sausage Sizzle stall before I found him and dragged him back to the humble 1K Sizzle. He says it was an easy mistake but I have my doubts.