Friday, March 30, 2007


Or : why my child has a beautiful, hand-crafted costume for Carnevale despite having non-sewing non-crafting parents:

Yes. Nell.

What a legend. After discussions with the Climber, she researched Arlecchino via the internet, found a pattern, then went out and bought the materials. She (painstakingly) painted the fabric, sewed the costume, lent him her hat and gave him a mask to paint. She even took the morning off work so that she could see him in his glory. He was much admired. And so pleased and proud.

Climber chose Arlecchino when many 6-year-olds might have been expected to go with a Superhero or Star Wars theme. He loves the Italian classes at school and can often be heard singing the 'theme' song for what he calls Carnevahnay, which appears to consist of the words Oh Oh Carnevale [repeat x 2], Ah Ah Arlecchino [repeat x 2], sung over and over and over with appropriate mispronunciations.

And what part did his slacker mother play in all this? Actually, I did the pants. As in, I went op-shopping. I also painted the pants; those of you with an eye for detail may notice the inferior job I made of this compared to Nell's sharp edges and clean lines. And the fact that they are not painted all the way to the waistband is due to the paint running out and not because I'm lazy. Well alright, I did make the cavalier prediction that they were probably high enough (the top wasn't completed till 11pm the night before so there was no way of checking) but there was definitely a paint shortage too.

So at school this morning, they had a special sfilata (parade) and EVERYONE including teachers dressed up. Climber's teacher was quite impressive as Batman. I'm thinking the kids would have been behaving well in class today. When he returned after the teachers' lap of honour, the kids could be heard singing nananananananana FATMAN! at him, which he took in good part; asserting he was merely plump.

And the end of the story? This afternoon, Cherub, arrayed resplendently as a non-specific Incredible, and I went to pick Climber up at the earlier time of 2.30 (last day of term) and almost failed to recognise him because he was no longer Arlecchino. There was only a blonde boy in borrowed clothes, a bag full of wet costume and a note.
Dear Parent,

Today your child received first aid attention. He fell over in a puddle and grazed his hip. Your child was given a change of clothes and had his wound cleaned and dressed.

Signed The First Aid Officer.

The grazed hip looks fine. The costume?

Well, we're hoping it will wash successfully.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ask Me Ask Me Ask Me

My brother got married on a cruise ship this weekend. As of Sunday, I have my first official sibling-in-law. (All the rest of them are brother or sister-in-commonlaws.) The ship docked in Melbourne briefly so there was an informal lunch. I got to meet my Sister-in-Law's child who is Cherub's age.

Cherub got to share his toys (which he mostly did) and display his excellent table manners.


I was really, really tempted to ring up a radio station this morning because they had one of those call us if this has ever happened to you discussions which struck a massive chord with me. The only reason I didn't was that my mobile (cell) phone is a pre-paid and I doubted my credits.

The topic was : have you ever felt insulted because of an unflattering comparison to someone famous?

And so even though I was driving the kids to school and it's illegal to use your mobile whilst driving, I got as far as locating and plugging in the dodgy hands-free attachment because I wanted to share.

Because YES!!!

Fortunately common sense got the better of me. That and the realisation I could share it with the internet! For free!

There was this English tourist called Mike who met a drunk girlfriend of mine whilst on the plane to Australia and she gave him my number (without ringing me up to say she'd done so) and he called me when he got to Melbourne. So after he'd explained who the hell he was and how the hell he had my number I met him for a drink. And we got on quite well. I was going through my Anglophile stage then. So we hung out for a bit and we kept in touch. During one of his Australian visits he dossed down in the grouphouse I lived in then. And we communicated variously over a few years, via letter and emails. He had a bit of a thing for me, which I half-knew but I was always attached and he was a bit ... uptight... and patronising. And needy. And he didn't really 'get' me. I remember sarcastically & jokingly telling him I'd learnt something at the school of hard knocks and his face dropped and he shook his head in admiration and said something like but you're so brave about it. But he was alright apart from that I suppose.

My main beef with him was that he always tried to fix things for me that needed no fixing.* Did I mention he didn't understand me? At all? So I told him this idea I'd had for a play and he went away and wrote a script (which sucked, may I say, and totally missed the point). I told him I was teaching tapdance and he sent me a mixed tape of 'good tap songs'. I told him my computer was old and out-of-date and he stole a disused computer (could have been broken, I never found out) from the storeroom at his work and posted it to me. From England. What can I say? I guess I just inspire this behaviour in men, I have this strange power...

Mike and I are no longer in contact (at his request) because I eventually said stop metaphorically waving your metaphorical screwdriver at my life and he got really insulted and probably cried and told me NEVER to contact him again. Ummm, okay.

But during one of our epistolatory exchanges which would have been over 10 years ago now, I sent him some pictures of me taken from a tapdance show. And his response to the photos was to tell me that I looked like Yootha Joyce. Whom I knew only as the nagging sexually-frustrated middle-aged housewife from Man About the House, and George and Mildred.

Oh.My.God. I was so insulted I think my mouth was hanging open for a week. One of my dearest gay friends nearly wet himself when he heard, he was rolling round on the floor laughing for days. He still occasionally likes to call me Yoofa. Just don't think the rest of you can get away with that.

But this is the sad part. Mike meant it as a compliment. A really subtle one, designed to show me what a sensitive and trendy guy he was. Because the image HE carried in his head of Yootha Joyce was the cover photo on a Smith's single Ask:

Which is not too hideous but I had not seen this picture.** I had only seen Man About The House and George & Mildred, and I can't think of any chick in her late 20's who would appreciate being told she looks like Mildred.

I hope you all went and followed the links. Poor old Yootha died from liver failure - apparently she drank half a bottle of brandy every day. I want you to see how I'll look the day after my birthday party.

*Unlike my Mr Fixit who is a legend with things that are actually broken
**I just googled it today so actually despite this diatribe I now feel slightly forgiving of poor old Mike.

PS. He also said I looked like Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders. Which is just rubbish.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Tap-pet-ty Weekend.

Lots of pictures today...
... of some very cool tappers.

My little Tap-pets excelled themselves this weekend with 2, count 'em, TWO, public performances.

A School Fete...
... and a Toy Library Fair.

Things I love this weekend. In no particular order.

The kids. So beautiful.

My Father's car. It's a stationwagon. So we were able to transport my tap-boards around. Ummm. That sounds mean. I love my father too! He came and helped me on Sunday while my usual right-hand-persons abandoned me. (Heartlessly.) Fixit went off to marvel at the Air Show and Nell went interstate to her niece's first birthday. So Dad lent me the car all weekend, turned up to see the Toy Library Show and then walked us around spoiling the grandchildren at the toy stalls.

My handy-dandy tap boards. We can perform anywhere, anytime.

The parents of the little Tap-pets. Who lugged boards, took photos, worked cds, helped my kids with their shoes when I was running round like a blue-arsed fly, handed out flyers. And were just generally enormously nice.

Highlights from the two days...

Two of my students, sisters who have tapped with me since day one, are both very shy. This weekend, for the first time, they got up and did BOTH shows. Their mother had tears in her eyes.

The power went off at the fete show, mid-routine (very wet and rainy in Melbourne yesterday but no rain when it came to our parades thankfully). So I had to think quick! I pulled Climber up to me and said Can you show me a tap-step that you made up? Straightaway, he rose to the challenge (we do this a lot in class). His confidence meant the other kids all followed suit eagerly and we were able to fill till the music came on.

Climber. Part Spiderman, part pirate, part Harry Potter.

Cherub. All cherub.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Real Parents of the Maternal Type Sometimes Swear in Front of their Kids...

...but have No Issue with Reprimanding Real Dads if they do the Same Thing.


Em tagged me to become part of this series on telling some motherhood truths. And I suppose I could have done something thoughtful and provoking, and maybe sometime I will, but it's really hot in Melbourne today, my car is at the mechanic, I have a huge weekend ahead with performing Tap Kids AND this conveniently happened yesterday.

Cherub and I were rushing down the street to the tram stop to pick up Climber from school. Cherub's just woken up, it's hot and his legs aren't up to it.

"Can you carry me?" he asks

I scoop him up. His hat blows off, which means I have to backtrack, then bend down to retrieve it, in the heat, with the additional weight of the 3-year-old plus backpack.

So I say, in front of the innocent ears (it was hot, alright! I was in a hurry!! He was heavy!) : "Oh for f*ck's sake".

Cherub's ears pricked up.

"Dat's what Fixit says!! Bucks sake!!" he exclaims in pleased tones. "Fixit say dat. Bucks sake."

I was too busy falling over laughing to come up with a suitable response.

As an aside, and so you can see a pattern emerging here, I also remember Climber at a similar age getting quietly irritated with a malfunctioning toy and muttering "futtin sate!"

When you find a swear-phrase that works for you, you tend to stick with it.

I just read the rules. There should be a photo. Here you go.

I tag Shelly and Shula.

(had to edit this post as it was attracting a very unsavoury search from sick g00glers)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Shallow and Insecure is the new Black.

Stomper baby and beloved sister. She's the bald one.

You know the odometre on the car? You know that thing when it gets to 9,999 or whatever and it does a really big rollover and it's pretty cool?

Well, my personal odometre will be ticking over this year. (Not for ages though. Months. But close enough that a few of my friends are starting to ask me what my plans are for the big day.) And that has not seemed very cool at all to me. You could really say I'm in severe denial about it actually. Which is not helped when my father says things like hmmm you're getting long in the tooth now. Or my mother (Hi Mum!) says I shouldn't have more babies because I'm too old now. (Also that financially it would be a terrible idea, which is true.) Or my chiropractor suggests that I'm middle-aged. Which, you know, technically I suppose is also true but Oh My God I got a shock when he said that.

See, the last time I really thought about my age was when I got pregnant with the Climber. Then time became this liquid concept due to culture shock, sleep deprivation, intense focussing on the small people etc. The next thing I know I've blinked and I'm about to turn f ... fo... can't say it. It's not happening.

So. People want to know. What will I do? And in an anguished way I've actually thought about this and I realised a lot of the ideas that sprang to my mind were really about denying that it was happening. For example, getting pregnant four months ago so that I could be in hospital labouring at the danger time and no-one would expect me to do a big party. Hmmm, think I've missed the boat on that one though. Or going on a little holiday to New Zealand or somewhere for that exact week. Or getting married instead on the day (my birthday is actually our anniversary anyway so I thought that was quite a good idea). But the wedding thing, as I may have mentioned previously, due to the obstinance of the Inner Princess is very much reliant on my actually receiving a bona fide proposal and the silence on that one is deafening ,
(And shut up, no I won't ask him. I just won't okay.)

But I digress. I always digress in this dress.

You can see the denial writ large in the sky, can you not?

Things I am considering. Maybe hiring some swing-dance teachers and getting a mass swing lesson so that everyone gets up and boogying early in the party and people have a laugh and a dance, two of my favourite things. Some sort of fancy dress because I have never had a fancy dress party. Which surprises even me. That's as far as I got.

So. Help! Any great ideas? Anyone.

Also. Just so you know. Deep down I am quite a sensible person. So I am well aware of the following :
  • The alternative to turning fo... f..ffff.. is much worse.
  • I will like lots of things about it.
  • I should be (and I am) grateful that I still have my health and my wonderful Fixit and boys instead of worrying about arbitrary age-lines-in-the-sand.
  • When I turn some other mythical large number in 20 years time I will look back on this fuss and laugh at myself.

I most certainly do not want to hear the following :
  • You're in great shape for your age...

What I need to hear is things like :
  • Oh my God, you don't look a day over 29.
  • It's the new thirty.
  • There are no numbers after 29.
  • You are still a hip and groovy person and no-one would ever guess.
  • I don't believe you, you look so young.
  • Oh for God's sake woman get a grip.

And not just because I tell people to say them either. Because they're really true and people really mean them.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Girly Day Out.

Daylesford is a small town in Victoria, about 90 minutes drive from Melbourne. It's just beautiful. And it's one of my favourite places to go. Lots of ex-Melbourne people living there, so you can be sure of a good coffee and decent food. It's famous for its natural springs, and I suppose with its century-long tradition of people visiting to 'take the waters' for improved health, it's no surprise that the town has quite the reputation for well-being and natural therapies. There is an abundance of choice when it comes to these: massage, spa baths, salt wraps, mud wraps, fish-slapping therapy okay I made that last one up.

Fixit and I love going to the next-door-town of Hepburn Springs where there is a fantastic old Spa Centre. We always choose an aromatherapy mineral water bath; absolute bliss during, and complete and utter tranquillity and happiness afterwards. Sadly, the Centre (it's a heritage building) is having extensive repairs this year. Fixit and I will visit again when it re-opens but meantime, he had to stay in Melbourne with the kids.

Because I was having a Girly Day Out. With Astrid, Jenny and Nell.

Astrid was designated driver (2 car family, didn't want to deprive the Dads of family transport) and she was supposed to collect Nell and I at around 10am. At 10.30am I rang her house. I ordered a taxi to Daylesford half an hour ago, can you tell me if it's been despatched? I asked the receptionist. Five minutes ago, was the reply. The driver needed coffee and the cab needed cleaning first. Then Fixit spoke to him and they arranged that the Fixit boys would all go over to Astrid's house for a day of play with her three kids. (Where they had a lovely day involving minimal childcare because the kids played beautifully and the 2 dads did the cryptic crossword, some sudoku, minded the adorable baby, fed the hungry, and chilled out.)

Lots of laughs on the car journey, and only one small getting a bit lost incident (because Jenny thought she could navigate a short-cut). First port of call upon arrival was at the Boathouse, for toilet, coffee and bookstore browsing, in that order. I found a Noel Streatfeild book to add to the collection, and the others found books to make them happy too.

Then we walked part way round Lake Daylesford to inspect a spring. And just like old-fashioned ladies, we 'took the waters'. Mineral spring waters. I quite like the taste, despite the sulphur overtones. The others made faces.

"Does anyone want a tic-tac?" asked Jen straight afterwards. We all took one.

We decided to eat lunch at The Lavender Farm, in Hepburn Springs, which was most enjoyable except for the wasps trying to share our food. According to Nell, in Austria people just shoo wasps away like you do blowflies, but we were nervous and too scared of annoying them into a stinging frenzy to take this approach, so eventually we moved inside.

Then it was time for the main event, the Hour-Long-Massage!!!!!

It took me much longer than I anticipated to really relax into the massage and enjoy it. This was partly due to the dismal so-called relaxation music (Ha!! On both counts!) ; when I eventually worked out that I was finding it intrusive my masseuse turned the volume down for me and all was well. And partly I think because it's been a long time since anyone but Fixit touched my bare flesh. So it took a little while to adjust to that, and then I started wondering if I was finding it in anyway erotic. Because you know, there's a lot of the right ingredients, such as bare skin, hot oils, prolonged touch... But eventually the brain shut up and then it was great, and she gave my feet a magnificent going over (sorely needed and much appreciated) and the scalp massage at the end was just blissblissbliss.

Back out to the waiting room to find Nell and Jenny looking dazed, relaxed and oily. Astrid appeared a further 15 minutes later and seeing as she was the only one of us to have a male masseuse a fair bit of hilarity took place amidst enquiries as to happy endings? and claims of special treatment/short-changing. Nell said she felt as though she smelled like a chip after all the vegetable oil. We compared treatments. We agreed that none of us had found the massages erotic as such, but that we all felt so wonderful afterwards there was an excellent chance that the stay-at-home husbands would benefit from our day away.

Next time we hope the dads get their act together a bit more and have a beautiful home-cooked meal ready for us on our return. But takeaway was an acceptable substitute.

I love going away with the girls. Good company and lots of laughs.

Thanks for coming, chicks.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Corners of My Home

You know there's this nice bloggy thing where you post gorgeous pictures of corners of your home? Well, this is a corner of my home at the moment. Because I'm not proud.

It's driving me nuts. In fact, I am off to Bunnings (Hardware store) toot sweet to get some more storage containers for the bloody Lego. And then there will be some serious packing up. Followed by chousing of resident and visiting kids to help pack up when they finish playing. For a couple of weeks anyway.


I was watching the boys playing a ball game with the visiting Next-door-kids. Formalities must be observed first when you are 5 or 6. Sometimes rule-making can take up the entire playtime. Climber decides to call the roll before commencing play.

"Climber Fixit?" he asks, seriously.
"Yes" he answers.
"Next-door-boy?" he asks.

"(You have to say yes or here)" prompts Climber.

"Here" says Next-door-boy.

"Here" she says.

"What about me?" I say, teasing.
"You're not in the game" I'm informed.
"Ohhhhh..." says I.
"You're a grown-up" they chorus, firmly, but kindly, as though I were a pesky 2-year-old.

"No fair" I say, pretending to stomp off.

Next-door-kids are smiling in delight. Climber looks stricken. Cherub gives me my marching orders.

"Go and cook the dinner!" he shouts gleefully and bossily.

Climber, still holding the ball in one hand, continues to look worried.

"Cuddles?" he asks, and offers me a hug before getting on with the game.

Ahh, the difference between 6 and 3!


The boys were playing hide-and-seek this morning, which is hilarious because Cherub is really hopeless at it. "I go hide under my bed," he announces as he runs off. And when it's his turn to seek, he wanders from room to room calling "Climber where are you, I can't find you...". Today I was helping him seek, when Climber suddenly emerged from his latest hidey-hole.

He was INSIDE the washing machine, and suddenly the lid lifted and his head popped out! Readers, I screamed and jumped! I wasn't fast enough to get a shot, sadly (and apparently he didn't want me to put it on the blog, but life's tough, kid, you can't always get what you want.)


Fixit is off on ANOTHER motorbike ride today. The payback for which is that I am off to Daylesford tomorrow (Labour Day Public Holiday) with my best girlfriends, Nell, Astrid and Jenny. There'll be shopping, lunching and then we're each having an hour-long massage.

Fixit is under STRICT instructions to come back in one piece today because I will be extremely cross if I don't get to have my girly day and my massage!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Why my kids are good for me.

I had a tantrum last week. One that a three-year-old would have been proud of. In front of the children. However much I plead temporary hormonal insanity (otherwise known as PMT), my little internal Jiminy Cricket was telling me: you could control this if you wanted to... But I was cross and bothered and I chose to let it out.

Here's why it happened:
  • I go out to tap 3 nights a week. (Stress Factor #1 - means dinner must be cooked, served and eaten before 6.30 so that I can leave the house by then)
  • I've been trying to cook nicer dinners for Fixit and myself. (Stress Factor #2 because I am competent but not gifted in the cooking department)
  • I have to cook different stuff for the kids. (Stress Factor #3 - additional meals to be dished up at the same time)
  • I am doing all of this at the last minute so to speak because that is the sort of person I am and I don't think after spending my entire adult life being this sort of person that I am ever going to change.
  • Fixit had been inexplicably and relentlessly late for the previous month. He knocks off at 5pm and it does not take more than half an hour of actual travel time from work to home; there is very little chance of overtime, the workshop just shuts, as in game over, he's not a corporate or salary slave, he knocks off at 5pm so why is he not getting home until 6.30???? *ahem*.
  • Climber decided to dress up as Spiderman. Which meant Cherub had to dress up as Buzz Lightyear. The Buzz Lightyear costume could not be located which resulted in small whinging hungry child pulling at my clothes as I was frantically trying to dish up the meals at the right time without spoiling the nicer more complicated meal I had lovingly prepared for Fixit who was LATE. AGAIN.
  • I had PMT.
So my tantrum involved stomping (naturally), some swearing (although obviously not as much as I would have liked due to small people being in the same room) and ranting at the absent Fixit along the lines of "Just once I would like some HELP would that be TOO MUCH to ask, knocks off at 5pm, try to fix a nice dinner, why am I the only person who can find anything in this house..."

Well, you get the idea.

By the time Fixit got home, I was done. I couldn't be bothered working up another head of steam and besides which I had to finish stuffing my face before running out the door to go to tap, after which I had to set up the hall in a complete flurry and then try to become calm-lovely-prepared-tap-teacher.

But back to why my kids are good for me. Clearly my foot-stamping and raised voice had worried the poor Climber. Cherub, he's three. He couldn't care less. But even before I left the house Climber was making gentle offers to help me. And when I got home that night I found this had been left for me on the kitchen table.

With instructions to turn it over. Which revealed this:

In my absence, he'd requested a photo of me to put by his bed because he missed me:

(You have to picture the sleeping boy in there, I took the photo the next morning.) And just in case you're interested this is the actual photo which shows Climber and me when he was just 2 and Cherub was about the size of a peanut & making me feel nauseous.

I may think twice before I throw my next wobbly. Or before I throw it in front of the kids anyway.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Just Can't Get Enough

Note the "daddy" tooth that has grown up behind the babytooth and so far failed to dislodge it. Though it is wobbly.

I have a real fondness for kid-talk. So much so that I tend not to correct my kids when they make their inspired guesses at English, or when their little mouths don't quite master all the right sounds. I love that my 6-year-old says betend for pretend, aspose for suppose and news for use. ("I need to news the scissors.") I love that there is still a bit of w in his r sound. When he stopped saying noo-noos for noodles I was really quite upset, and overjoyed when the Cherub eventually made the same mispronunciation. They're both of an age where they could say noodles now, but in our house we call them noo-noos and will until the boys beg me in embarrassment to say it the right way. We've all got our foibles as parents, and this is (one of) mine.

I'm not all that keen on anyone else correcting them either. My theory - totally untested and non-scientific - is that if they hear the words newsed used corrrectly, eventually they'll work it out - as happened with the noo-noos in Climber's case. And just in case you are worried, they do not sound like Elmer Fudd or the Teletubbies. Well, not all the time, anyway..

It's just that their versions are often very sweet or very funny, and why would you want to annihilate that before you had to? The Cherub, who at swee 3, wants his dwinkbottle and points out the lellow taxis and tells you he wants nootwigwain for bwekwist. Do I want to rush him out of that sort of baby-liciousness? Of course I don't. And why would I spoil the fun of misheard song lyrics? You know that smash Depeche Mode song? Since Climber started singing along all I can picture is a great big jam jar with a really tight lid : I just can't get it off, I just can't get it off.

Other recent linguistic silliness from this week;

Climber, wandering into Fixit's shed, notices the dumb-bells on the ground and nods appreciatively. "Cool. Weightlifts," he says, before wandering out again.

In the car this morning, Climber played one of those intense imaginative games that kids do. I'm so glad he's still at the age where he can do this in our presence! This morning's theme was Star Wars (you know, the movie where Dark Thater is the bad guy and they all fight duels with Life Savers) and during the action I distinctly heard him referring to the William Falcon. It took me a moment to work it out (The Millenium Falcon) and I only just stopped myself from correcting him. If his Star Wars loving cronies at school give him a hard time about it, then I guess it's just the price he has to pay for giving his parents the gift of laughter.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Retail therapy for the financially-challenged.

New jeans! Ten dollars. Yep, you heard right. Ten dollars. I have this friend Elda who is a shopping queen and her motto is that no-one should ever pay retail. "Elda," you can say on any given day, "I need new jeans/lipstick/cashmere sweaters" and as if by magic she will find you a 2 day only warehouse sale where the items you need are being thrown out the door. When she has finished up with her real job of making sure the under-privileged are not swept under the carpet, she is going to be the presenter of her own smash TV show where she will swoop down on unsuspecting mothers of young children, whose clothes no longer fit (and never will again, doesn't matter how long we keep 'em in the wardrobe!!) and whose budgets are tiny, and she will have 24 hours to kit them out with clothes, fragrance, make-up and accessories for an outrageously small amount of money. She'll be bigger than Super-Nanny.

In the meantime.

Ten. Dollar. Jeans.

(x 2)