Monday, July 30, 2007

Baked Risotto

Here you see one of the items on my birthday wishlist: a Le Creuset Casserole Dish

And this is the Maxwell & Williams version I received, which all seemed well and good.

Only when I went to christen it this afternoon (to make Bill Granger's zucchini & tomato baked risotto), this is what happened:

Yes, that's right. It exploded!!

Mere seconds after I was idly thinking as I stirred away at my onion, extra-virgin olive oil and salt, I wonder if I should have checked instructions on the box to see if it's okay to cook with this pot on the stove-top? ... Nah. It'll be right!

Then bang! I screamed and jumped.

Oh and there was a warning on the box.

Can't you see it? Oh that would be because it's written in extremely small letters.

not suitable for naked flame

So I can't ring up and demand a replacement. And just as well I checked because who wants to be called an idiot for not knowing the difference between how you cook with cast iron products and how you cook with stoneware? Not me. I feel like the person in that I.T. joke.

And also very fucking pissed off.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I had it all planned out.

My first ever post on this blog was about taking the boys swimming. So, I thought, I'll mark my first anniversary of blogging with a post on taking the boys swimming. I even took photos at the pool on Friday (and was spoken to by the lifeguard re making sure I didn't have any other children in my photos. Yeah, like I want anonymous brats in photos of my darlings.).

And in my great plan, I thought I could reflect on the highlights of my year of blogging ...

... but when I thought about it, I realised that my life and therefore my blog are quite tame. (Which is fine by me!)

Yes, I had an iron transfusion, a scary birthday and got through Climber's first year of school and love affair. I recorded for posterity the terrible year we had during my pregnancy with Cherub. But in terms of my plan, man, it just didn't seem to be worthy of a great deal of reflection.

Because this blog, it's just my family, in writing, so that my useless long-term memory will have a better chance of remembering this delicious time of my life.

Nontheless, I still think I ought to take time to state that I am so glad I started doing this. I love that I've taken lots of photos and written down the funny stories, I love that I've found all these other blogs to visit (do you see the length of my sidebar??) and actually met some of my fellow bloggers. I love that I am writing again, split infinitives, lax grammar and all. And this year of blogging, seriously; is that all it's been? I feel like like I've been blogging forever, like I'm such an old hand at this now. Weighing it all up, it seems valid to do an anniversary post, to commemorate a year of doing something that I enjoy so much, and will be, I hope, a treasured record to Fixit, the boys and me in the years to come.


It turns out that, true to form, I actually MISSED the anniversary of starting this blog. July 17th 2006 was my first ever post, not July 29th. Like my 100th post, it came and went and I found out later. What can I say? I'm not great with dates.

But what the hell. Won't you wish me a belated happy blog anniversary? And if you've ever lurked here and never said hello, then surely a belated first blog-versary is the time to introduce yourself.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Can he swing from a web? Take a look overhead.

Bet you've never seen Spiderman wearing tap shoes before.

And in other Spiderman related news, I knew it wasn't just the commercials that made watching Spiderman of a morning such a bad idea. As we were driving home from school the other day, Cherub suddenly piped up Climber sad. Sure enough, when I turned round, there was my big boy sobbing his little heart out. Not just a few tears trickling down either; the proper cry, with the noise and the snot and the heaving shoulders and the sad, sad face.

And when I asked him what was wrong he choked out "Peter Parker's uncle got sho - o - ot." Luckily I had seen some of that morning's episode or I would have been quite at a loss. And in case you didn't know, Peter Parker is Spidey's alter ego.

He was inconsolable, and needed much cuddling and distracting when we got home. At that stage I hadn't quite broached the you-know-it's-not-real? conversation, because I like that his imagination is not yet cynical.

But that evening as we settled down with a glass of wine in front of Spicks & Specks, I heard a noise from the boys' room. And when I went in, there he was again, crying his eyes out. So then I did give him the it's-only-a-cartoon, it's-not-real talk and we let him watch Spicks with us before putting him back to bed, and he seems over it now.

Don't think I'll read him any more Harry Potter books for a while though.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Yesterday, I took the Cherub to see a show in a proper theatre. Which was extra exciting because he knew so many of the stars . And there were many, many stars in this production. You might not have heard about it; it sold out very quickly and was open only to the lucky people in the know.

Yes, it was the Prep through to Grade 2 Concert, and of course the big box office draw for us was the acting talents of The Climber, seen here trying out his costume in our kitchen.

Last year the theme was Fairytales, and Climber was a massive hit as one of the seven wolves - you know that fairy tale, surely? With the 15 pigs?

This year the theme was Celebrations and our class (1K) performed Halloween.

The concert was a guided tour through Melbourne's public holiday calendar, plus a few other special days that don't always guarantee a day off, such as birthdays and St. Valentine's. I notice they left out the Queen's Birthday celebration, though... is there a little pocket of republicanism happening in the Drama Department there? Or did they just think it wouldn't make for good theatre?

Actually the St. Valentine's Day piece was a complete heart-breaker, but not for romantic reasons. No, it was little blonde boy in glasses who became so overwhelmed by the whole concert thing that he had to leave the stage in sobs. Sobs, I tells ya. It was awful. He stayed just visible in the wings, shuddering and weeping while a teacher tried to talk him round. Meanwhile the whole flow of their piece stalled as the kids tried to work out what to do, seeing as the weeping boy hadn't said his bit. And as for the little girl with whom he was supposed to do his bit, I have never seen someone say so clearly, without making a single noise, using every inch of their body, "COME ON!! It's YOUR BIT!!" as this girl was clearly putting across just before he broke down. It was a little bit scary. No wonder he cried. Ah, but moments like these are what Little Kids' Concerts are all about, don't you think?

Anyway, it was a really great concert, and we got really great seats too, by virtue of having helped with the make-up backstage and avoiding the foyer altogether. Elda's report from the front-of-house compared the queue unfavourably with those at a Robbie Williams concert. Whereas Cherub and I bypassed the line and slid straight into the 3rd row, centre. Sometimes virtue is rewarded. Cherub really enjoyed it, although he was not so keen on the gaps between acts when the theatre was dark and the curtains were closed. He mentioned the dark quite a lot during those times. He also knew our friend Emma was sitting in the next row and when her child came on stage he got out of his seat to tell her so. Just in case she hadn't noticed. This is Emma's son next to the Climber, wearing red, during the finale.

This is K, our teacher. Seen here on the left, playing guitar with Tim, our teacher-from-last-year (as an aside, our school has a LOT of male teachers. And they can almost all play the guitar too.)

K is, I think, a bit unused to accepting help from parents. He came to our lovely little middle-class establishment from a much rougher, hard-knock school. So he was blown away by the fact that he had to do nothing about the costuming. A couple of very able parents made, borrowed or found everything needed, from make-up to broomsticks. Which, you know, was just as well, because all though K is a lovely man and a really good teacher and we love him to bits, organisation is NOT his strong suit.

Anyway, I'm just telling you about that because I feel that the Halloween piece might have been better with some choreographic input. (Which I offered.) Because really, our kids came on, repeated a chant 5 times, interspersed with some corny jokes (Where does a vampire keep his money? In the blood bank etc) AND each group of Halloween-ers coming forward, walking around and returning to the spot. Luckily their costumes looked fantastic. And of course the kids were all adorable and did well. But as a theatrical piece, it was a leetle bit ... bland?? Does that sound like sour grapes? I swear it's not. I just like for it to be a good show.

My favourite bit was the Climber unwittingly upstaging the class. They began the piece prone and jumped up to start. Everyone except Climber. Who lay face down with all his might. I could see him straining every nerve and particle of energy into the lying down. I thought one of the kids was going to have to kick him. But eventually he sneaked a look, saw shoes and jumped to his feet. Nothing like a late entrance!

Lack of choreography in 'our' number aside, I think the show as a whole was great. Even if the Principal made nearly the same speech as last year's.

Here is the star and the star's biggest fan being reunited at the stage door. So exciting.

Fixit and Nell are going on Thursday night.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Last Book.

If anyone has finished reading it and wants to talk about it, please email me!!! I finished it in 7 hours to the absolute neglect of my family. I liked it. But that's all I'm saying, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

Last book I nearly drove Nell insane, because I so badly needed to discuss it with someone and she absolutely would not let me hurry her. Don't think I didn't try. I'd ring her and say have you finished? and she'd tell me to shut up and leave her alone. So then I'd ask her where she was up to, so I could discuss up to that point. I believe I pestered my sister the same way.

So you know, I'm here. Needing to talk about it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Any Old Iron?

Apparently a by-product of domestic goddess earth mother homemade sourdough bread baking activity is the urge to make a lot of homemade soup to accompany said sourdough. I think Suse could have warned me.

(Lamb & barley soup. Tastes better than it looks).

Or maybe it's a by-product of super-improved energy since the iron transfusion. Because I just feel SO much better. I would thoroughly recommend the process to anyone out there feeling like a beached whale, or how I imagine a beached whale feels, viz:
Damn, how did I end up here, I should swim back out because otherwise I'm going to die slowly and miserably but it looks too hard and I cannot be bothered. Maybe a nice hippy will come and heave me back.
I wish I'd found out about my iron deficiency and my sludgy thyroid a couple of years ago. I should actually have paid better attention to my fabulous GP, who narrowed her eyes every time I brought one of the kids in for an appointment and said why have you got such awful bags under your eyes? Or why do you look so terrible? Which at the time was slightly insulting and I of course thought the answer was : because I'm old and nature is cruel. Well, I am and she is. But more to the point and for no reason that we have yet discovered (although my guess is that the babies leeched out all my nutrients during their incubation and breastfeeding days) my iron levels were so pathetic that instead of the normal dosage of half or 1 gram of iron, I needed 2 grams of the stuff. I think this explains why I turned pink the next day.

Anyway, like I said, I feel great now, and it hasn't even been the full 3 weeks they said it would take to kick in. Teaching tap is going great guns, I've got my bounce back and my students are starting to feel the burn (and incidentally the phone is running hot at present; the tap business is doing very nicely indeed). And I can now just get out of bed of a morning instead of draaaggging myself out. Sadly, the house is no cleaner. But that is partly school holidays, partly very wet weather (who wants to mop when you know the kids will track in mud?) and partly dealing with extra tap stuff. I'll get there though. One day. I have cleaning plans.

Probably not for this weekend though. I have an appointment with Harry Potter. So, like Captain Oates, I am just going outside [the blog-tent] and may be some time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In Bed with Ma Doona.

I'm letting you into my bedroom, although I had to rush around and tidy it before I let you look.

I wanted to show you my pretty new manchester, which was part of the booty-haul from my recent birthday. Jenny & Astrid and their families bought it from me from my wishlist. It's satin-y on the top, which I wasn't expecting but there you go, these are the dangers of internet shopping - somehow I didn't pick out the satiny sheen in the thumbnail on the website. Thankfully, the underside is normal cotton. Not that I mean to whinge here! I love the pattern & colour, but all over satin in mid-winter doesn't seem warm & snuggly enough, somehow.

I just love gorgeous bedlinen. And I've really learned to appreciate the good stuff. My advice to all you young things about to move out of home is to save up and buy the Sheridan. Stay away from supermarket or discount-store sheet sets. (Unless they specify impressive thread counts.) When we were really, really strapped for cash I resorted to el cheapo linen. What a waste of money. I've got some of my Mum's good linen that she gave me when she moved to Sydney and some of it is 20 - 30 years old and still in much better condition than the kmart sheets.

I can only do small disposable income purchases these days, which is still an improvement on the bad-linen days. So coffees, the new Harry Potter book, the occasional night out are all fine now. But I have my dreams of what I'd do with proper disposable income. First and foremost would be a new computer because this one will die some day soon. And then I would be prowling through the manchester departments with intent.

What would your indulgence be?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Spiderman, spiderman, does whatever a spider can.

Fixit has been letting the boys watch Spiderman in the morning. I don't approve, not because of the violence so much (although I'm not mad about them watching violence but hey, you grow two boys, you get less precious about this stuff) but because it's on a commercial station and I Don't Let The Kids Watch Commercial Television. Yes, I am the nanny-state. What are you going to do about it? The kids have the choice of the ABC or their impressive array of acceptable videos. (Thomas the Tank Engine & The Wiggles feature heavily in our collection.)

I'm really just repeating how I was raised. I grew up in Canberra and in my younger years there were only 2 channels to choose from. But even so, we didn't visit that commercial station much. My parents hated advertisements. And guess what? So do I! Qu'el surprise. Nell is not afflicted with this and had to be all sorts of alert when she lived with us, otherwise Fixit and I would give her dirty looks when she forgot to mute the ads. She reckons she barely hears them. And she's always telling me about this or that funny ad, and then remembering that of course I won't have seen it. So now sometimes I have to watch a funny one (Hi I'm a Mac or the pirate & the bandaid) so that I know what's she's talking about. She's my ad-filter. She tells me which ones are okay to watch.

I do remember as we got older and more in tune with peer group pressure that we were let off the ABC leash to watch shows in the 5-6pm slot, such as Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Lost in Space and The Brady Bunch. After 6pm, of course, we wanted to return to the ABC for the golden hour of telly : The Goodies followed by Doctor Who. And I also think the rules had relaxed a bit more by the time my brother was 6-ish, because I know he watched Thunderbirds and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Anyway, back to Spidey and the dreaded commercials. Fixit is being good about it. It's all supervised. Obviously, it helps that he's getting a huge kick out of watching Spiderman too. He was muting the sound when the ads came on, but you could see the boys were still veeeeery interested in the commercials, so he has started flicking back to ABC Kids so that their little minds are not contaminated with consumerist longing for expensive, noisy and useless crap.

In the meantime the one Spiderman costume in our dress-up box is in high demand. No fisticuffs yet though.


In other news, I made sourdough bread from the starter and recipe kindly provided by Pea Soup. I've never attempted bread before.

I feel like such an earth mother now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


If you live in Melbourne, there is a general assumption that you will be footy-mad. That is, a devout fan and follower of Australian Rules Football. If you don't like it, you have to lump it, because the rest of Melbourne and especially the local media assume you do and therefore treat all things footy-related as if they were of national or international importance.

Jeez, it gives us the shits.

See, Fixit and I couldn't care less about AFL. Bizarrely, Fixit comes from a family of ardent AFL fans. But at a young age his family moved interstate to NSW where the football choices were less likely to include Aussie rules. So he learned to play soccer instead, and despite coming back to Victoria after 4 years, he never developed a proper Victorian passion for aerial ping-pong. And sure, I was a mad keen Carlton supporter at high school but this was mostly because I was best friends with Elizabeth Amos, and she was a very persuasive and charismatic girl. Of course, I then indoctrinated my sister with a passion for The Blues. So if Carlton featured on tv's match of the day we two would sit and watch it on the beanbag with my Dad - which I think he really enjoyed, looking back. I even think I cried when Carlton lost a Grand Final. But then I stopped being friends with Elizabeth Amos and went on to be a drama student and before you knew it I had an English boyfriend and suddenly the 'round ball' game was the sport to follow (you see how easily led I am?) . I even played in some women's teams over the years.

The upshot of this is that Climber is at a bit of a disadvantage in his Melbourne schoolyard, where AFL is king, swap cards are a monotonous feature of Show & Tell, discussions on ladder positions rife and team jumpers worn with pride.

The poor kid has had to learn fast. He gets no support from us. But somehow he has sorted it all out; hell, the other Grade One Boys are more than happy to tell him all about it. Tellingly he has not committed to a particular team yet, an excellent sign we hope.

In the meantime, I decided to strike a blow for the anti-AFL brigade by sending Climber off to a School Holiday program devoted to soccer.

I wish I could show you the photo of him the night before when he just HAD to try on his new football apparel. He's wearing his pyjama top, his red undies and the new white socks pulled up to his knees and he's shaping a kick. I'll be bringing that photo out at every significant celebratory event for the rest of his life.

He wanted to wear his brand new shin-guards to bed after the first night. If we hadn't been worried about his circulation being cut off, we probably would have let him.

The second day started with a very photogenic fog.

Cherub found it all very exciting but thankfully accepted it as a Big Boy's Activity and was content to join the morning kick around before formal activities began.

The program was fantastic - they rotated each group through various stations where they concentrated on different skills. Below you see Climber lining up for an activity involving passing and shooting for goal. (He missed)

This is a similar one where they had to firstly perform what Fixit calls a Nutmeg. You step over the ball, then send it sideways with your back foot to get round the defender, then you shoot for goal. (I think he missed again)

In the background of this next shot you can just see a kid, airborne and horizontal, learning how to do that very spectacular scissor kick over your own head (before landing on a nice soft crashmat !). I was so impressed that this particular skill was being taught, considering how young the kids are, but then I realised that you'd have to start this one when they were young before they developed FEAR!!

This is one of the inflatable playing fields, seen here with all the kids at the end of the program.

And this is my happy graduate, who told me he wanted to do it every school holiday.

Maybe one day he'll be a Socceroo.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pieces of Eight arrrrrrr.

A meme featuring Eight Random Things about Me. As tagged by Joanne.

1. I hang my socks and jocks on the outermost line of the Hills Hoist, which I think is contrary to most people's notion of washing-line etiquette. But I lived for many years in a small garden and tall roses would spike anything long (like t-shirts & jeans) on the outer line. Some habits are hard to break.

2. I am very good at cryptic crosswords, although probably a bit rusty since the second child arrived.

3. I eat and enjoy meat but I really, really don't like handling it, and will always opt to buy pre-cut stuff. Even if it costs more.

4. I used to play the piano and I really loved it it. When we win the lottery I want to get us one.

I don't seem to have a picture of me playing, so here is one of my sister playing
while I talked about it with my maternal Grandfather.
I think Bron & I were in our early-to-mid-teens

5. I am a complete fraidy-cat and have no desire to parachute or bungee jump or even go on scary fair-ground ride.

6. Riding on the back of Fixit's motorbike was about as brave as I got, but when I say brave you should bear in mind that the whole time my brain would be imagining unspeakable accidents such as losing a leg, and how fucked up my tap career would be if that happened. I stopped doing it as soon as I was pregnant with the Climber.

7. But I wouldn't mind a hot-air balloon trip. They look gentle, and I believe you get champagne.

8. I have almost returned to my normal colour.

Apparently I should now tag 8 people but I am going abstract with that concept and just tagging any readers who live in Queensland. Because I've just discovered that my birthday falls on Queensland Day.


PS. And since she reads here, I would like to wish my Mum a happy birthday this week, which was a bit neglected due to iron-transfusions & school holidays.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What's Black and White and Red All Over?

I'm having a slight side-effect. The iron has turned me a gentle shade of pink all over. A bit like the time the Climber got scarlet fever but without the fever.

Also, I met Pea Soup (for the first time) and Shula (again) this afternoon. So nice to meet up with these 2 excellent bloggers and I just want them both to know I'm not always this pink.

My boys were far more interested in Shula's gorgeous shaggy dog and, after a slight false start on Cherub's part (he loves dogs but is not used to big ones), they did their best to hurl the ball so Angel could retrieve it. I came away from this mini blogmeet with a container each of Shula's home-made muesli and Suse' sourdough starter. I hope to bake my first ever loaf of bread over the weekend, all things going well.


The Horrifying Sounds Meme via Tanya. (Hers is much funnier than mine.)

1. A little voice saying Mummy wh'ar you? just as I've snuck off to the loo and locked the door.

2. Our ill-fitting laundry door banging (erratically) every 30 seconds if one of us forgets to shut it properly.

3. The sound of our Prime Minister's voice, particularly when accompanied by a visual.

Bec is back in the blogosphere and in search of a meme so I tag her. But it's okay Bec because there is no running involved in this one.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Needle and the Damage Done

Actually there appears to be no damage, but there was definitely a needle. I had 2 grams of iron transfused into me today, and was fully expecting to cartwheel out of the hospital!! But due to some technical thing, the iron won't hit my system for another 3 weeks. They explained it to me but technical jargon always washes over me. I mean, I think I'm listening and taking it all in but an hour later I haven't got a clue. Something to do with the blood cells regenerating and the iron not being fully effective until absorbed by new red blood cells?? Or something.

Anyway, today I went up to the 5th floor where I checked into the 'Medi-hotel' (not quite a ward) at St Vincents. I got there at 9-ish and the transfusion started at 11.

I packed my iPod, Anne of The Island, the latest NW (trash mag), my knitting and The Age puzzle page. Did a bit of everything over the course of a very long day.

I forgot snacks!! They gave me lunch (a sandwich and an apple) but there is something about kicking back with a book on a couch that makes me crave lollies, biscuits or chips. Or preferably all three.

We were treated to some ad-hoc entertainment during, in the form of 2 intrepid window-washers. Apparently this only happens once a year. File this under jobs I'd never do..

And at 4.30 I was pronounced free to go. Gee, it felt good when the tape came off and the needle came out..

Fixit as good as called me a wuss for not wanting to mash the potatoes with my poor sore arm tonight, but he ended up doing it for me anyway.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Blue Knitted Hat

Finished my first ever knitting project last night!!

Not bad going for an absolute beginner. (I decided not to show you the side with the gaping hole from the dropped stitch)

Here it is as modelled by the Climber, perfect attire for a cricket match, don't you think?

Here's the Cherub, showing us what the modish Space Ranger will be wearing this winter.

Looks alright with two such attractive models, even if one of them is pouting..

But when I wear it, I have this sinking feeling...

... that it looks a bit like I'm wearing a blue knitted condom on my head.