Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mis-ter Fixit, can he fix it?

It's all got a bit domestic round my place at the moment, with the knitting and the cooking and even a bit of housework (you know, where it shows...) so maybe that's why I suddenly got the urge to haul out my ancient sewing machine on Sunday. Climber needed a replacement bag for his Home Readers. It was easy enough to make. I even wrote his name in glittery purple fabric paint - possibly in an attempt to disguise the fact that my sewing skills are small and underdeveloped, possibly to give Climber the shiniest bag of them all, probably just because I can't resist decorating stuff!

While I had the machine out, I also made a little bag for my camera. I bought the quilted fabric years ago to try and make Climber's hand-me-down wooden high chair more comfortable, and then of course never got around to it. (The poor kid ended up just perching on our knees eventually; I always suspected his reluctance to eat solids well was linked to the uncomfortable high chair, and spent some of Cherub's baby bonus money on getting a proper one for him.) When the fabric fell out of the junk cupboard the other day, it occurred to me there could be more than one use for its plush purple padded-ness.

I went to visit Astrid on Monday morning and casually dropped into the conversation that I'd been doing some sewing on the weekend. After recoiling in shock she narrowed her eyes at me and demanded Who are you and what have you done with Stomper?? Well, after all, she had really only just got over the fact that I now have knitting projects in my handbag.

Anyway, so there's me, proudly wearing my new mantle of domestic goddess, when along came my stitchy nemesis. You know how, in sewing, you make a strap by folding over a long thin piece of material, stitching it up the long side and one of the ends and then you turn it inside out? Well that's what I was doing, but I was finding it ridiculously hard to do the turning-inside-out part. I had my knitting needles jammed up it and was trying all sorts of pinching, and pulling it, but the turning-inside-out rate was approximately one millimetre per half hour. I was getting pretty fed up with it and muttering to myself There must be a better way!! and wondering if I should go and bug someone who knows about sewing, before just putting it down in complete boredom and wandering off. As you do. Well. As I do.

When I was leaving for tap-dance on Monday night, I happened to mention to Fixit that I was having trouble with it. And because he is Mister Fixit and he can't help himself, he said Bring it here. So I did, and I showed him and explained how hard it was. And he frowned at my poor technique and started pulling out all the hours of hard work I'd done (all 4cms of it) at which I protested weakly as I was walking out the door.

I was less than 4 minutes in the car when his text message came through. Done it.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The MAP has worked, and Fixit has booked himself in for next month. I'm 95% relieved.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sequel Best

Epilogues to a couple of previous posts. (links in the titles if you need). One happy ending, one ambiguous.

Baked Risotto
My Aunt Anne was very excited when she popped by my house on Thursday to tell me that the local kitchenware store was having 40% off Chasseur products. She doesn't mind a bit of bargain-hunting, my Aunt. So the next day Cherub and I met with Anne at the store, where the Bargain Gods looked down and smiled on me - hiding at the back of the boxes of cast-iron casserole dishes was a 27cm oval french oven in blue for $119. Which was actually 50% off the RRP. And the store-owner was happy to honour that price.

I christened it that very evening with Bill Granger's Exploding Baked Zucchini Risotto, and the next day with a Beef, Beer & Bayleaf Casserole, which was delish.

Also, thank you to Tanya & Crafty for bestowing honours upon me.

It seems fit to mention this here, owing to the fact that Tanya basically gave me the award because of my crockery smashing credentials, and without Crafty I would not have been able to christen the new casserole dish owing to a temporary parmesan cheese shortage whilst Cherub was sleeping. Fortunately her fridge was well-stocked. This award has spread faster than Equine Flu so I didn't think I'd pass on specifically. But you know I think you all rock.

Dem Bones

The tap student I've been so worried about has now been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Brittle bones. She is in the first stages of it so provided she is scrupulous in her management of it (calcium supplements etc) it may not be too dangerous, but it presented me with more to worry about. Not being a doctor I'm not sure how I should be directing her to modify what we do in class to minimise risk. For example, would jumps be high risk? Or toe-knocks? Anyway, her particular class is a sub-contract for me, rather than at my school, so I had a discussion with the Academy's Principal about how to manage it and the upshot was that we requested ongoing medical certificates and a signed waiver about dancing-at-own-risk. Sounds fair enough, doesn't it? But it upset her quite a lot, made her feel she was being singled out and that she should never have been open with us about her health. And she was also very insulted about the implication that she would ever do something like a lawsuit. So tricky. The thing is, she WAS open about it so it would have made both myself and the Principal negligent if we didn't seek medical certification, surely? It's horrible having to be hard-line about this stuff. I like this student and appreciate that she has been honest with me, but have ended up punishing her for it.

I have one more sequel for you, to do with this story and this one but that's a whole 'nother post.

Friday, August 24, 2007

My Sister and How she Foiled the Bad Guy.

For Flashback Friday the theme was T-shirts and I don't have any photos of lairy shirts to share. But seeing as how my little sister is about to celebrate her birthday I thought I would share a little flashback about her.

When Mum was visiting at the start of this week we had a discussion about travelling to school. Fixit and I elected to send Climber to a school that is 'out of area', and therefore he is chauffeured like a little prince every morning; but even if we lived round the corner I would still be escorting him from our front door to the schoolyard. I would not be letting him walk or ride on his own, not yet anyway. Whereas Mum thinks that her parents never took her to school, and from an early age she was negotiating trams and buses to travel to the Catholic school several miles away. My sister and brother and I fell somewhere between these 2 extremes.

Canberra, being a planned city, was full of bike paths and underpasses so in theory you could ride or walk to school in complete safety, without ever having to cross a road. Possibly the next time they plan Canberra they will rethink the underpasses as they became a really good place to smoke cigarettes or take drugs or beat people up; this was also true of the city's massive stormwater drains.

Anyway, one day while she was still in Primary School my sister was coming home from school with her little friend Nancy. And Bronnie can patch up the holes in my story if she pops by the comment box but I think they were stopped (possibly in an underpass) by a Bad Man. And he wanted Nancy. So he tried to get rid of Bronnie and repeatedly told her to go away. But she had a gut instinct about him so she stood her ground and Would Not Leave Her Friend. And I suppose the Bad Man gave up after a while, or maybe a passerby came past, but Bronnie and Nancy made it home safe and sound. And when the parents heard the tale, the police were called, and I remember them coming to our house to interview Bronnie, and turns out she'd been able to describe the man well enough for the police to be able to catch him. One less child m0le$ter on the streets, thanks to My Sister.

She's good like that. Probably the most loyal person I know. Strong-minded. (We used to call that stubbornness). Sometimes her life is difficult, with her diabetic child and the juggling of relationship, motherhood, work and following her dreams. But she's always there toughing it out and doing what she thinks is right.

Happy Birthday Bronwen. Keep up the good work! I love you.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Works in Progress

Seems we all have our own little projects to be getting on with here at Chez Fixit. Here's mine. It will be a pair (when I knit the other one) of wrist-warmers, a'la Pea Soup. I'm feeling very happy with this knitting lark, it's quite absorbing. Over the weekend I got to grips with ribbing, casting on and casting off!! - provided I have the support and expertise of Jenny or Craftymum nearby. They've had to rescue my masterpiece on several occasions. I am liking my ball of Kmart wool too, I think my wrist-warmer resembles a Monet sunset.

My mum has come to visit us for a few days, and it's lovely to see her. Her work in progress is Cherub's hair, which she likes to brush. Must be to do with him owning such a wild tangle of curls. I haven't seen Mum following Climber's dead straight mop around with the hairbrush..

Fixit's work in progress is a new hobby - indoor rock climbing. (Proof that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.) His other WIP is recovering from muscle-ache post the rock climbing session.

Climber has been dabbling with non-fiction writing lately. He is currently working on a typed Science Book - it's all about cells - and he has also started a Spell Book. (I've added in the correct spellings for those of you who are not Harry readers.)

I found another of his works in progress, which is a follow-on from an idle conversation between Climber and myself recently where he wondered if a one-limbed octopus would be called a uni-pus...

And Cherub has been working on a song. It's called The Fixit Stomper Song and he accompanies himself on his little ditar. It goes :
Fixit strum strum Sto-o-mper strum Fixit strum strum Sto-o-mper ...

... for quite a long time. I think it's my favourite song in the whole world.

Climber accompanied him on the straw.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Flashback Friday - Group Photo

Back row L-R Me, Robyn, Bronnie, Kylie, Front row L-R Patricia Tracey & Michelle

The theme for Flashback Friday this week is Group Photo. This was my softball team back in Canberra; a mixture of my friends and my younger sister Bronwen's friends. It was the last day of the season and we'd done quite well considering what a scratch team we were.

I love softball. I'd probably still play it if there was a nearby team and I had any free time. I was a district representative for an under-16 team that played in a big Melbourne Competition (we were billeted and everything!) and the coach used to put me as first batter because I'd hit anything and was never scared. My favourite fielding position was Catcher; you had to be able to throw to 2nd base to stop runners 'stealing second'. There was a huge amount of bluff associated with this. When you warmed up, pre-game, you put in the effort to send a good hard throw to 2nd base so that the batting team would be too intimidated by your good throwing arm. Once you'd done the good throw in the warm up you could merely jump up with a menacing look and the would-be stealers would slink back to first base and never test you out.

For a change I know what year this was taken because my hair is still braided (or French plaited as we called it) from my Year 10 Formal, which means it was 1982. That was the year I was the lead in the school play and therefore more popular than I'd ever been at high school, which I did not realise until too late. It kind of hit me after the play, because suddenly cool kids smiled and talked to me. And then at the formal Ben Welze asked me to dance with him and he was the best looking, sportiest, coolest, everyone-likes-him boy in our year. I was so shocked. I didn't really know what to do. I think I danced with him without exchanging a single word. It's possible that I barely looked at him.

Definitely didn't get to second base with him. Nor first neither. *sigh*

I'm the guest tyrant over at Sussanah's for Come The Revolution Friday.
A place where nobody dared to go, the love that we came to know, they call it Soozadoo
(that's for my BFFF Nell who did not sleep wiz ze Frenchman)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


We have had a Frenchman* staying at our house for the last few nights. I tell this to my girlfriends and the first thing they ALL ask is:

"Is he cute?" **

Who cares if he's cute!?!? It's all about ze beautiful accent, non?

Thees ees 'im. 'Is name ees Laurent. (Or De-won if you are Cherub)

He also plays the didgeridoo.

*backpacker who worked in the bike shop with Fixit then travelled halfway round Australia - he needed a bed before he flew back to France.
**in some cases the question was immediately followed up with : "is he single?"

Monday, August 13, 2007

Choices, choices.

For just $28 I could do one of the following :

Buy a new shirtBuy a new book

Buy a new dvd

Or, buy a morning-after-pill.

Guess which one it was?
Guess who found herself looking extremely sheepish in the chemist shop this morning?
Guess who still hasn't organised his vasectomy?

Go on, guess.

If this makes me throw up I may do the fixing on Mister Fixit myself.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Down to here, down to there, down to there, down to where it stops by itself

Lots of bloggers have been posting photos of their bad hair, probably inspired by a Flickr group, Flashback Friday. And not content with that, the photos have been accompanied by discussion on a whole lot of hair related issues.

I of course want to join in this fun. Hmm, let's see...

Maybe there's the bad perm photos. I certainly did the whole perm thing. But when I went to look at my permed hair horror photos, I really couldn't find anything too terrible. Maybe it's because I don't have very thick hair, maybe because there's a hint of natural wave in my hair anyway, but on the whole my perm days weren't too awful. Not wonderful either I hasten to add, but not tragic. The look I really didn't like was the half-grown out perm; half-straight, half curly. Which was predominantly why I stopped getting them.

Then there was the my hair was too short when I was young and people thought I was a boy. That didn't happen to me because I had girl-length hair as a child.

I made the decision to have all my hair cut off at about 17 to embrace the idea of punk culture (hey, better late than never!) and that was a mistake. I don't seem to have many photos of this time, but I can't say I'm particularly sad about that! A part of me wishes I could be like Posh Spice and look fabulous with short hair, but sadly I don't have the right sort of face.

Maybe to deal with the whole being-ugly-with-short-hair I took to growing the fringe long and just getting it permed. Yeah. There's a look. Accompanied by multiple sets of very dangly earrings, a lot of eye-liner and very bohemian clothes.

And then I had the perm to help me grow my hair out. And even though these shots are from the nearly-grown-it-out stage, you can see, can't you, that short hair is not my friend?

The main issue with my hair was coming to terms with its colour, and acceptance really came at around 17 when I decided I was comfortable in my skin being flat-chested and red-headed. (Not so well-adjusted that I eschew the fake tan or the lash&brow tints however!)

So, hair issues? Not so much- not me-myself-personally. But having read of other hair-related scarring I am slightly worried about what I am inflicting on my young son.

When he asks of me in 25 years time what I thought I was doing making him look like a girl, will he accept my excuse that he just looked too beautiful with his cherubic gold curls for me to cut them off?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Lallow Bike

I think you can probably tell which of these 3 admirable bikes is the preferred, indeed the ONLY one that Cherub would ride.

Yes. Despite the almost totally trashed steering wheel and the fact that he was getting too long in the leg for it, The Buzz Lightyear Car was the transport of choice for backyard brrrrming.

Occasionally he would stand on the tail-board of the blue trike and scoot himself along. Pedalling, however, was something that Cherub just couldn't seem to master. Fixit opines that there is a basic design flaw in tricycles, because the pedals are a long way away from the body and attached to the steering apparatus. Which is probably true but plenty of other kidlets manage.

However, when Fixit put some trainer wheels on Climber's little old bike, pedalling was suddenly the Cherub's friend.

Now he is off, off and away. He rides all the time. He pedals as though he'd been doing it for years. He corners neatly and steers competently. And he loves, loves, loves his new lallow bike.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Show and Tell

Every Tuesday morning I help out in Climber's classroom. It's part of the 'parents as classroom helpers' program at our school. In our first year at school, under the super-organised Tim, we:
  • had a roster.
  • had 2-4 parents on each day.
  • heard reading from a group of kids, usually including our own child within that group.
  • helped out with a variety of literacy activities.
  • were greeted when we arrived and thanked when we left.
It was great fun.

Our teacher this year, K, is less talented administratively and thus the 'parents as classroom helpers' has been far [far!!] less structured. This year:
  • I think it's only me who does it on a regular basis.
  • It took a few months for K to work out what he wanted me to do.
  • I ended up working predominantly with the kids who are struggling with reading, which given that I am not a literacy specialist was slightly daunting at first. NB They are both getting a LOT of specialist literacy support, the school is really well set up for these situations.
  • I was never greeted or farewelled, which I missed because it's so cute ..."Good morning Caroline" ... I've taken to engineering my own greetings etc by announcing breezily as I walk in "Good Morning 1K!" And they all answer in chorus, they know what to do even if K doesn't.
K thinks I'm a good thing now and always looks crestfallen when I say I have to leave, and has muttered forlornly once or twice about how nice it would be to have help every day. Which, you know, K, if you'd been organised you could have had... there were well-trained parents willing to volunteer at the start of the year who drifted away, so to speak. He's a nice bloke is K, but he needs to get his act together.

I still have fun. I like hanging out and getting to know all the kids, plus I get a bit more insight into classroom dynamics (like for example the fact that K has now separated Climber from Angelina because they got too distracted together.) And I've developed a special little relationship with the 2 boys who can barely read. Today I had quite a result with one of them; I got him to read a 'd' level book to me (he is still on 'a' level with his home readers) and afterwards he was just SO proud of himself, and all fired up about reading. It was great.

But the real bonus to doing all this help is that I get to watch Climber doing his weekly Show-and-Tell. I love the concept of Show-and-Tell, the fact that the kids are getting up and articulating in public about things they like or have done. The reality, however, of Show-and-Tell is fairly humdrum. Oh look, another boy has brought in his Footy Swap cards. Oh and here's a little girl showing us the latest addition to her sticker book. Wow. And here's another lego creation. Seeing as how I get to witness K's ennui at this sort of presentation, I do my best to send Climber off with something mildly interesting. Which is not always easy to do, especially when you only remember what day it is 10 minutes before you leave for school.

But I am pleased as punch to announce that Climber blitzed his Show-and-Tell presentation this morning! And it's all thanks to Nell and the way that she follows through, in a practical manner, subjects in which the boys have expressed interest. (We are very lucky to have her.) So, stemming from the Harry Potter fixation round our way, the whole concept of writing with a quill and ink became reality for Climber recently. Nell's mother Daphne made Climber a proper quill from a goose feather and Nell bought some ink.

Turns out that the class has been focusing on The Olden Days and K's eyes lit up when the quill and ink were produced this morning. A lively lesson ensued, to which the kids all paid fascinated attention. No squirming, wriggling or talking! And Climber was thanked at the end of it for bringing in such a great Show-and-Tell and his little face beamed proudly as he sat down.

Way to go, Nell and Daphne!!

Friday, August 03, 2007

So very Seventies.

For Flashback Friday this week, I give you, along with the purple flared corduroy pants which I would totally still be seen dead in (although possibly not with white frilly socks and white shoes, and probably not worn quite so high up the ankle - ankle-freezers, we called them and a worse fashion crime you could not commit), my crocheted poncho.

I'm standing in front of the first house that I remember living in - and one of my strongest memories of it is the scratchy steel wool carpet down the kids' end of the house. I was nine-ish when we left there but I reckon I could still draw a floor plan. Behind me is the window that my sister famously somersaulted through, thus earning her smile shaped knee-scar. I would guess that this photo was taken not long before we left the gentility of Canberra's inner south for our foray into community-based housing, an effort to counteract Canberra's famed cold-heartedness by recreating village values through proximity to neighbours, a community centre, a communal vegie patch and best of all, a pool!

There is something about a poncho that is so very 70's, don't you think? I think I wore them for most of the decade and possibly slightly beyond. It was lovingly made by my Mum. She didn't like sewing, although every so often she'd haul out the sewing machine and give it another red-hot go. And she didn't knit. But she did and still does crochet. Many a newborn of my mother's acquaintance has slept soundly under a beautiful crocheted baby rug, including of course my own 2 boys.

Here you see the bassinet rug for Climber.

Then here is the Climber's cot blanket.

And finally, the Cherub's cot blanket.

My babies have graduated from the cot to the bunk-bed, but I will never give these away. They will be warming my knees on a winter night for ever.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cardboard box? You were lucky.

All is not lost if your parents won't spring for a Nintendo.

If you have a good imagination and an abundance of art materials, you can make your own.

And what's more, you and your little brother will play with it quite happily, as if it were the real thing.