Saturday, April 28, 2007

Things that made me smile today.

  • The Cherub swapping his feet round like this at tap and telling me that his other foot was now his left foot.

(This is a re-creation featuring the Buzz Lightyear dress-up
and not featuring his tap shoes.)

  • The Climber practising his joke-telling skills in the back of the car:
Knock Knock Who's There ? Cow. Cow who? No, Cow moo!
Why did the Dinosaur cross the road? He didn't, roads weren't invented when dinosaurs were alive

etc .

Because this inspired the Cherub to tell his own made-up joke:

"Why did the sheep cross the road? - Baaaaa."

I think he's a surrealist.

  • Hearing that I am going to get to see a Comedy Festival Show after all - my friend Astrid has scored us freebies to see the delicious Adam Hills on Sunday night! Which is the last night of the Fest, so you can see why I thought I wasn't going to end up seeing anything this year (most unusual for me) and am now happy to get a reprieve....
*Sings: Let's get all dressed up and go and out and perve on Adam Hills and have a laugh and a drink - Yay!*

  • Nell suddenly getting worried that the rash of hippies and greenies cleaning their houses with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda might cause a vinegar shortage.

This is Nell & Cherub with her New Toy, the Badge-Maker. You remember how I offered prizes for this post? Guess what the prizes were.

There was another envelope for Soozii but the pic is on Nell's camera not mine. Also, H&B was not a prize-winner as such, hers were just a thankyou because she'd sent me a little prez.

Edited to say: New Tricks was a bloody repeat! So we missed Rockwiz for nothing. Bah.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

An Apple A Day ...

Ah, sticker charts!! What would parents do without them?

We resorted to this because the Climber would not eat fruit. Which to my mind was unnatural and wrong. Kids should LOVE fruit. Fixit and I both love fruit. But both our children have needed considerable encouragement and coercion to consume it. We think it's a texture thing. Cherub is a better fruit-eater than Climber (he could hardly be worse) but if we removed it from their diets I don't think they'd notice. It's not normal is it? Go on, tell me how much your little darlings love/d fruit. You know you want to. When the child eats fruit the parent feels good. We all know it's true.

So I made him a chart. Every time he ate a portion of fruit, he got a sticker. Acquiring 10 stickers meant he arrived at a treasure chest, which entitled him to a trip to the shops to purchase a smallish toy to the value of $10. I think for all but one treasure chest reward he has chosen Lego. Now there's a surprise.

It was an enormous success at first. In this house, on the whole, new toys and little presents only arrive at birthdays and Christmas and since for him these fall within one month of each other, he was really rather keen to earn stickers, and could be heard requesting fruit. Music to my ears.

And then as these things do, it started to taper off slightly. Which was okay because habits had been formed by then and fruit was consumed without thought of material rewards. But fruit was still fairly low on his list of foods to eat, and also, the sampling of new fruits got us exactly nowhere. Oh sure, he tried them, but none of them caught on. It was strictly apples (sliced; and swallowing the peel has been a fairly recent skill), sultanas and strawberries round here. BUT!! He no longer complains when they are served up and even quite enjoys eating them.

Anyway, I am telling you all this as background, because if I suddenly announced in big, bold, capitals that My Son Bit Into And Ate Nearly a Whole Apple you would wonder what all the fuss was about. But the thing is, it's been sliced apples all the way and last week for the first time Climber Ate the Apple the Way Nature Intended. And that was a big thing for me. So much so that he was rewarded with instant Lego (Cool! Free toy!! was his response). And if that instant Lego happened to be some that I'd bought on special in the early days of the sticker chart and had then seen languish on top of my wardrobe as he eschewed it for New Lego and therefore I really needed an excuse to hand it over, well, he didn't mind that.

Just as a PS. to this tale, the school-holiday squalor in this house must have influenced my decision to buy myself this book.

Fifteen minutes a day to have a clean and sparkly house! And only using bicarb and vinegar as cleaning agents! That just sounds like a great plan.
I'm thinking of starting a sticker chart for myself so that I follow through with it!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I don't think I can take the pressure..

This is what the Climber announced from the back of the car this morning:

"You're only allowed to get married in your 30's"

Friday, April 20, 2007

Say "Aaaaaaah"

Fixit's mother is deeply sympathetic to a teething baby. She tells her grandchildren that teeth give you grief. "They're trouble when you get them and they're trouble when you lose them."

I've just been to the dentist for the first time in FOUR YEARS.

In theory I would prefer not to leave it quite so long between visits, based on the knowledge that regular appointments greatly reduce the likelihood of Highly Traumatic Treatments (and highly traumatic bills for those treatments). But pregnancy and babies hijack my good intentions. Not to mention my calcium levels if the post-Climber dental visit was anything to go by (to wit: Root Canal. Ouch). But then, I breast-fed Climber for much longer than the Cherub who was a self-weaner and I may never really get over that rejection Cherub. Just so you know what kind of recriminations are heading your way when you get older.

Anyway, you could argue that Cherub hasn't been a baby for quite a while now, so I could conceivably have gone to the dentist at least a year ago, but after all that root-canal distress I had realised something. Which was that I did not like my dentist. And so this meant that not only was I uncomfortable - on a purely emotional level, I might add, she is actually a highly skilled operator with every new-fangled gleaming bit of equipment you could want - in the chair, I also really resented paying out what felt like an extortionately high percentage of our income to her.

Obviously the thing to do was to find a new dentist, but it's veeeeery easy to drag your feet on this sort of chore because you know at the end of it you will be getting drilling in your head and a large amount removed from your bank balance. But I asked around for recommendations. Here's the thing. People actually don't really give glowing recommendations for their dentists. Even people who have good dentists. Based mostly on the fact that none of us really like going, which colours your whole attitude to the professionals in question and must be a bit of a bummer on a personal level for them, don't you think? I reckon they must get much less of the "oh you must try my chiropractor he's a genius" type affirmations, however well they do their job. Poor old dentists.

But eventually one of my friends did speak really glowingly of her dentist. Not expensive, nice person, kiddie-checkups for free and she really liked him. And someone else we knew also saw him and absolutely concurred.

So I went and saw my new dentist with doom in my heart because it was FOUR YEARS since my last visit. His 'chambers' were poky little rooms, the mags were all at least a year out of date, they hand-wrote their accounts and still had the non-electronic credit card imprinting machine. No wasting my money on expensive overheads here. BUT!! He made me laugh during my check-up, and he explained stuff properly and didn't patronise me.

And best of all he told me my teeth were in pretty good shape! The bottom teeth are a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y fine and I've only 3 very small spots to be fixed up top. *leaps into the air and clicks heels together* So as far as I'm concerned he's welcome to my hard-earned and not only will I be taking the kids there for their first ever check-ups, I also Solemnly Swear I Am Up To No Good I Will Book In Every 6 Months for a Check-up!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More fun at the beach

Another beach holiday! Courtesy of a different aunt. While Fixit went gallivanting through the alpine region on a great motorcycle adventure with his friend Malcolm, the boys and I abducted Nell for the weekend and hightailed it south to Phillip Island.

My aunt rented this fabulous holiday house from a colleague and filled it for 3 days with her siblings, nieces & nephews, and in our case, great-nephews. The house was the bees-knees. Situated right on the surf beach, lots of rooms with bunks and big beds, 2 living levels and a gorgeous roof-deck. Check out the view!

Oh and the view from the mid-level kitchen and living ...

The downstairs area where we slept had a pool table and this provided hours of fun for Cherub and Climber - despite Cherub's desolation at having the stick "snatchered" from him by my uncle. Following the banning of stick-use in the interests of baize preservation, the boys devised games based on just rolling the balls into the pockets. And my uncle flatly denied that he had snatchered the stick. He said actually, he'd had to put his knee onto Cherub's chest and forcibly wrench it away from him.

Nell and I amused ourselves playing piano duets. You know those two duets that you don't need sheet music for? Yeah. Chopsticks and Heart & Soul. We got encored for each tune by the Cherub. Fun.

My little Cherub slept for the first time in a big-boy's bed. Obviously I need to record that for posterity. Yes, he is more than old enough to be in a bed now, but Fixit is in the process of making the boys a bunk-bed (bought the wood this week!) so meanwhile Cherub is still in the cot, and honestly, he doesn't know any better. The good news is that he didn't fall out overnight - I barricaded him - and he slept like a log the whole night through. God, I still remember the THUDS when Climber was first moved to a bed! And then he'd go for weeks, months without falling out when Wham! out of the blue, we'd hear this almighty dull thud and run in to find a dazed half-asleep boy sitting next to his bed looking tired, confused and slightly cranky. Some nights he didn't even wake up at all.

In the afternoon, I took the kids to visit Climber's best friend Luca, where we had an exciting adventure:
We went to the foreshore. Two mums (Pam & I), two six-year-olds (Climber & Luca: best friends in the world), and two littlies (Cherub & Sunday). We took no swimmers or towels or cameras. We just took the kids for a walk on the beach.

We reached the foreshore. The kids started paddling. And jumping. And splashing. I said take your shorts off and paddle in your undies. So they did. Then Cherub wanted his shirt off too. Then he wanted undies off as well. I let him. There was no-one around, just a few boats unloading to the nearby pier.

After a bit, Cherub & Sunday dressed themselves once more and left the sand & water for the nearby play equipment. Climber & Luca kept cavorting in the water. Climber decided he wanted to immerse himself in the water so he stripped off all his clothes and ran happily to the shallow water, where he sat, in the shade of the pier, naked and beautiful.

We saw people on the pier and noticed they seemed to be looking down at my boy in the water. Maybe they were not used to seeing naked children on the beach. It is rare. Maybe they thought I was a bad mother.

Then one of the people came down from the pier to talk to me. You should get him out of the water, he said. There are 3 giant stingrays down there and they are swimming really close to him.

We didn't make a big fuss. We called him out, and he and Luca got dressed, then the six of us walked along the pier. Sure enough, swimming gracefully underneath were 3 enormous stingrays, lazily waving those giant flappy fins and occasionally flicking those famous stings out of the water. We watched them for about 20 minutes. They were so close to where the Climber sat.

I do not think they attack people. They are gentle creatures unless you jump on them and surprise them.

But still.

When the kids were bathed and bedded the adults had: a lovely meal, plenty of alcohol and two rip-roaring games of Pictionary. And not that I'm boasting or competitive or anything, but I won both games! Despite being separated from Nell after we two thrashed the rest of them... Nell and I are Pictionary Champs from way back and anyone who knows us no longer lets us team up.

My uncle is an ex-restauranteur so I love it when he's cooking. Saturday's feast consisted of roasted duck legs, a white-bean and sausage cassoulet [store-bought from a gourmet butcher], roast vegetables in duck fat for the meatosauruses amongst us and plain for the vegie-sauruses, along with green salad and a yummy vego pasta which the herbivores let us share. Gin&tonics followed by red wine. Happiness all round. And may I say how nice it was to have not one bit of input into the meal preparation. Although I did knock up my famous Shrek Patties for the kids.

A morning frolic in the waves, then back to Melbourne.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tuesday's Child

This is a bit of a housekeeping post. But not actually to do with real housekeeping which is being studiously neglected as I blog.

Firstly, the Easter competition. The person who won the prize for the lowest score was Joanne (0 points) and up until last night, the highest scorer was Shula (11 points). So there I was last night knocking up the prizes for these two deserving winners, when suddenly Shula got pipped at the post by a surprise late entry, Sooziii, (12 points.) Anyway, seeing as I'd already done the prize for Shula, I decided to award both high scorers a prize! So if the 3 winners could please email me their postal addresses, a little hand-made prize will wing its way to them.

Secondly, it appears we have a new author in the family, aka the Climber. Whilst we were at the beach, he started pencilling his first book, which I'll have you know is a chapter book. With punctuation and everything. I'm so proud. It's called "The Red F".

Thirdly, a parcel arrived in my mailbox yesterday addressed to the most Esteemed Lady of the Stomp (that's me) and inside was a gift from the lovely H&B. And without wanting to get anyone at trouble, I refer you to this post and quote you this poem.

Monday's child poem

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Because thanks to H&B, I am now a Tuesday's Child. And oddly enough, I am anyway. The website I visited explains it thus:
You have many talents, and are fun to be around.
You dance through life!
Which sounds about right for me. Although, I should point out that I ran the rest of the family through the date calculator and Fixit is also full of Grace, whilst both my sons are full of Woe. But apparently the explanation for that is that :
You are a serious person, and try to change things that seem unfair.
You make the world a better place!
... which is true of Climber so far, but we need to wait until Cherub stops being three before we find out if it is also true of him. And you know, Fixit did quite well when I dragged him to a Beginners' Learn to Latin-Dance night the other week. He was merengue-ing with the best of them by the end.

Go to this site if you would like to find out your day.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Beach & the Blog Thieves

I'm back! Hope everyone had a fab Easter and that you all have really sensible exercise plans to deal with any over-indulgences that may have occurred this weekend.

We had a really relaxing time at the beach, unsullied by the complaint of our last visit, although Fixit had a terrible tummy upset on Easter Sunday which I blame on having too much of my cousin's hand-pressed grape juice (no-one else got sick - I just think his digestion couldn't cope with all that fibre-laden acid-y goodness)

Cherub in a borrowed white hat, looking proper old-fashioned.

Here are my boys enjoying the beach :

Cherub sitting in a hole.

And here is me enjoying myself at the beach :

I am loving Cloud Atlas by the way, so thankyou to all the bloggers who recommended it. As soon as I finish it (I know! 3 days down the beach and still not finished, but parenthood has wrecked my reading mojo I tells ya) I will be heading to the library for this man's first two novels.

Anyway, apparently while I was away Blogger did a partial upgrade on me. So behold me, joining the ranks of New Blogger. Some of you chose to go, some of you were forced to go. I left a little note on my blog saying I'd be off to the beach for the weekend and Blogger burgled my blog while I was away.

Oh and PS. Congratulations Aunty Cookie and family on the arrival of Sadie.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


"Colourful things for sale! Don't know what they are..."
The Climber and his Best Friend set up shop in our front yard, exhorting passers-by to leave money in the letterbox in exchange for shiny beads..

We're off to the beach for the Easter weekend as of tomorrow. But I thought I'd leave you with a competition in case you're not going away and you are sitting at home, bored, wondering why no-one else is blogging. (Don't say I never do anything for you.)

I started pondering this because there are an embarrassing number of famous and allegedly excellent films that I haven't seen. So then I thought I could adapt a game called Humiliation, played by characters in a David Lodge novel (typically I can't remember which novel so leave a comment if you know for a bonus) to make an amusing bloggy meme/competition thing. Then I started making lists and it all got a bit complicated because I couldn't decide how to define "classic" and then I thought what about just name anything that lots of people have seen that I haven't and by then my head was starting to spin. So. I figure. I'm going to list works that I think are probably classic (with a bit of help from internet top-100-list sites) and if I'm wrong then that's because I haven't read/seen/listened to them so what would I know anyway? And I'm only doing 5 of each (could easily have done more) because I have to get organised to go to the beach tomorrow. So this is very hastily put together and not really well thought through - story of my life - BUT there are prizes (small, daggy and of no value whatsoever). And feel free to make a passionate case as to why I really should have read, watched or owned any of these. Or to make your own version...

You give me a point for each one you have read, seen or own. Daggy prizes for highest and lowest scores.

Classic Books I Have Never Read
  1. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  2. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  4. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien
  5. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Classic Films I Have Never Seen (the tip of the iceberg, sadly)
  1. Casablanca
  2. It's aWonderful Life
  3. any of The Pink Panther films
  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  5. any Marx Brother film

Missing from my Music Collection* (sourced from this website)
  1. Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan
  2. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys
  3. Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones
  4. Blue by Joni Mitchell
  5. Grace by Jeff Buckley
* and not just these albums, anything by any of those artists...

Happy Easter Everyone

We finally met the tiger cubs at Melbourne Zoo this morning.
Kitty, kitty. They're so cute.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Letter to My Teacher...

The boys chow down at Fixit's sister's engagement party this weekend.

... but first; some background.

If you're my vintage and you grew up in Canberra and you were educated in the public system, then in Years 11 and 12 you would have attended a 'college' as opposed to the 'high school' where the Years 7-10 were miserable educated. I made a good choice in my college because I insisted on going to the one that the majority of my bogan high-school mates did not. I went inner, they went outer if you know what I mean. The point (I think) of college was to prepare us for University. Students designed their own timetable based on a certain amount of core subjects and some electives, and bonus! you could schedule free periods for yourself. There was no uniform. Smoking was permitted but only outside (this was a while ago now, in the days when public servants still smoked at their desks). You addressed teachers by their Christian names. But they still sent letters home to your parents for truancy and held parent/teacher evenings and whatnot.

Anyway. At my college I had one teacher - I'll call him A - of whom I was very fond, and in fact we are still in occasional contact to this day. You know there are some inspirational teachers who make learning an exciting and positive thing, who can help you believe in your worth as a person and as a scholar? Well, A was one of them. I'm sure he won't mind me describing him as an eccentric and an original. Sadly, in the years after I graduated, the school system became more conservative. The dynamic and quirky energy he brought to his teaching was perhaps not really valued by school administrations which had budgets and quotas and goals to meet. So a brilliant and enthusiastic teacher ended his teaching days on sick leave and many students were denied his capabilities.

A taught English and History subjects. I have a shocking memory, so I've forgotten the names of his classes but there was a drama one where we studied Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and a brilliant class called Australian Identity which was Australian history made interesting (unlike the dull-as-ditchwater classes I'd suffered through with Mr. G back in high school) because it focussed on episodes that shaped the national character. And somewhere in A's eclectic and wonderful classes I was introduced to the concept of the Cargo Cult. Which brings me to my letter.

Dear A,

Many years ago, you taught me about the Cargo Cult. You explained about indigenous peoples from Pacific countries who built up religions based on cargo dropping to them from the sky. Some were obviously influenced by witnessing Western soldiers receiving military cargo drops from aeroplanes; those cults began to imitate military behaviour, carving walky-talkies out of coconuts and clearing airstrips as a way of signalling the deity their fittingness to receive the cargo. Which is of course an interesting concept in itself, but as is your wont, you drew parallels between the original Cargo Cults and our modern society. Because you discerned a growing number of people developing Cargo Cult type mentalities. "Why should we work?" they say "when for very little effort I could win tattslotto or become a famous movie star and never have to worry about money again." You taught this to me in the days before reality television! All those wannabes in the Big Brother households. Living, breathing, walking examples of that sort of Cargo Cult mentality. History can tell you the future. As you knew.

Anyway, I write to you because there is this new phenomenon called Dear Universe. I first heard about it on Michael Parkinson's show. I can't remember who the interviewee was, some Brit, an ex-television presenter who had recently made a spectacular comeback. Which in part he attributed to this movement, this Dear Universe movement. I'm sure it's huge on the interweb. All you do is write a letter. Dear Universe, you write, and then, because you are a person deserving of good things and as such all you need to do is ask for what you want, you list or request the things you would like in your life. And through cosmic forces or by attracting the requisite good luck vibes needed, the Universe will heed your prayer. Yes really. According to Parky's guest, you ask for specific things within a specific timeframe and then you offer your letter up to the Universe and either get on with your daily life or sit back and wait, and within the allotted time (he cited a year for his own modest wants of a house in the South of France, a revival of his television career and something else, probably a hotted-up car) these things will be delivered unto you.

I write to you about this A, because I am confused. I would like to write the Universe a letter. I wouldn't ask for much. Just a house, located in a certain suburb. Preferably one that we own, because it's not always easy being a renter. But my conscience is bothering me, because I am well aware that we are ridiculously well off in Australia and if I take stock, I have all the things in life that I need. Okay, we are not 'well-off' perhaps in Australian terms, but we have regular income, a roof over our heads, food, clothes, toys, music and fun. So what right do I have to ask for more? Would it be bad, and weak, and lazy and a sell-out if I wrote Dear Universe, please let me have that house? Would you think less of me? Is it any worse than the weekly tattslotto ticket we purchase in lieu of any real financial plan for our indigent old-age? Basically, is it allright for me to join this new-fangled Cargo Cult? What about if I keep doing my do-gooder activities like collecting for the Red Cross Doorknock Appeal last week or selling raffle tickets for Diabetes Victoria or volunteering my time at Cherub's creche? Does that make it more acceptable? You can see I want and try to be a good person, can't you? A good person with a house in that certain suburb.

I want. But I don't want to be greedy.

Love Stomper.

PS . You promised me a letter. In January. I don't want to nag but it's April. Maybe you could stop editing, and just print and send?
Also, thanks to Nutmeg for this. Maybe that's why I've been inspired to post some of my thoughts today instead of some of my doings. Anyway, in keeping with the rules of this exercise I need to nominate some blogs that make me think. This is hard because I love all the blogs on my bloglist and they all give me something different. But for helping me to think about things outside my norm, I nominate Shula and Aunty Cookie and Kirsty at Two Lime Leaves for crafty and or visual inspiration, Joke for culinary inspiration and House & Baby for living and loving her 'suburban dream'. And it's not like each and every one of the others doesn't deserve accolades but I'm supposed to stop at 5 and some of you have already received nominations from other sources.