Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bakefest for the Cherub

Or how I spent my afternoon ...

Buttermilk Spice Cupcakes

Honey Joys

Lemon Slice

Birthday Bear Cake
as per Cherub's request

Lolly bags.
Invaluable tool for making the party guests want to leave.
Wise parents only let their children eat from them once they are seated in the car for the return trip home.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Are the holidays nearly over?

So much happening these holidays, so much I could blog about. But I'm exhausted. All I can manage are dot points. If I'm not too busy getting ready for the party this weekend, I may elaborate. In the meantime ...
  • My oven is fixed. We had a really nice electrician.
  • We went to see Thomas the Tank Engine Live On Stage yesterday, and I've decided I'm not an arena spectacular type of person.
  • The person responsible for the script of that show was punching above their weight.
  • The four of us went to the Royal Melbourne Show today and I had a juggling lesson and the instructor stole my watch (he slipped it back to Fixit without me suspecting a thing).
  • We've reached saturation point with all things train. (that'll only last a week, though)
  • Climber was so tired he emigrated briefly to the Land of Can't-Cope. He's back now, poor little sausage.
  • Cherub does not like the Dodgem Cars.
  • It's really hard to drive a Dodgem Car and comfort a crying child at the same time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Saga of the Oven

I went cooking crazy last week. So unlike me. Macadamia biscuits, pumpkin soup, a new batch of sourdough starter (because the 1st lot went off, it smelled like a rat had died in our pantry), sourdough bread, honey-soy pork & noodles, bulk batch of bolognaise, chicken stock, a lemon tart, baked risotto, 2 lamb roasts, pancakes. I just couldn't stop. Fixit was getting mighty sick of all the washing up, I can tell you.

I've been forced to stop now. Yesterday I went to bake another batch of the macadamia biscuits (to be followed by a loaf of wholemeal sourdough) and found that, despite a good long period of pre-heating, the oven was stone-cold.

I rang the real estate agents and left a message. I said my oven is broken. We went to Jenny's house with the biscuit dough and baked them in her oven. The agents rang me while I was there. She said What's wrong with the oven? Is the fan not working? I laughed bitterly. No rental house I've ever been able to afford came equipped with a fan in the oven. Let alone a working light.

The agent rang the landlords. They of course needed to come and have a look. So I of course decided that I needed to do an emergency oven-clean before they came and looked. Seeing as how I cleaned the oven exactly ONCE since we moved in 4 years ago. Halfway through that fun job there's a knock on the door and there is Mrs. Landlord (they live 2 doors up from us) come to have a look. She knows nothing about electrical appliances, I think she just wanted to check that I wasn't making it up. She said maybe they couldn't fix it till next week. I said no I must have it by the weekend. She said her husband would come and look after work. She tells me they don't want to get an electrician because they charge you just to have a look. Very expensive. We have lots of bills, she tells me, rates, water....

I have to tell you how much I hate it when our landlords cry poor to us. They have a lovely house to live in filled with all the mod-cons. They also own 2 investment properties, one for each child. I don't begrudge them that, they've worked hard for it. But I think I am the wrong person to whinge to about how hard it is for them.

She tells me Mr Landlord will come to look when he gets home from work. She goes and I get the oven finished and mop the floor so the house looks lovely for his visit. He doesn't show up. He got home late and didn't want to wake our kids. Mrs Landlord shows up this morning. Her husband thinks maybe I knocked the element when I was cleaning the oven? Um no. Because the cleaning happened AFTER the oven was broken. She tells me to call the agent to say get an electrician. Tell them not to send an expensive one. I do that after she goes. I don't mention the expensive bit. The agents need the landlords' say-so to call the sparky, not mine. Mrs Landlord is not answering her phone because she's gone off to work.

I drop my risen sourdough loaf over at Jenny's and she cooks it for me.

I have school holiday mayhem this week, visits here-there-and-everywhere. And I need my oven fixed!! Because in 5 more sleeps it is Cherub's birthday party and I have me some baking to do.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Clickity Clack

My cd has been officially launched. Well, when I say my cd, I really mean theirs.

Ages ago I was in a recording studio, laying down some tap for a song. This afternoon, Fixit, Climber, Cherub and I fronted up to a pub for this:

Geez it's been a long time since Fixit and I went out to some live music. We used to do it a lot. Back in the days when I worked in rock n' roll. Before Children.

Today we took the boys because it was an afternoon gig, family friendly. The boys were beautifully behaved, although we had to go back to the car to get a couple of matchbox cars so Cherub could brrrrrm, as the music wasn't really grabbing his attention. Then Climber took one of the cars to the loo and left it there. We went back in to check but it had gone, which made Climber cry. Thankfully just before Mrs Wainwright started playing, we heard an announcement. Would the owner of the orange chevrolet make their way up to the stage please. (The owner of the orange chevrolet had to make 2 trips to the stage actually, he forgot to say thankyou the first time.)

Climber was really into the music, almost mesmerised by it. We were watching him during the performance, he was strumming the orange chevrolet as if it were a mini guitar.

We couldn't stay for the whole set, it was past dinnertime for the boys but we did hear *my* song; I Will Breathe Again. Prefaced by an absolutely glowing speech from Trish telling people about how magical my tapping was. I may have to go through doors sideways until my swollen head subsides. She told me she mentions the tap in all her interviews too, which means I'll be desperately scouring street press to see if I'm famous. This is what she wrote on the liner notes of the actual cd :
and Caroline .... (aka Miss Caroline) astounded us all, tapping the solo on I Will Breathe Again, amazing!
and this is the thankyou note she sent.

Have I mentioned that Trish (singer & songwriter for the band) is a really nice person? Anyway. It was a great gig. Go see Mrs Wainwright if they come to your town. Buy their cd. Support live music.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What our Mum did to our hair.

The theme for Flashback Friday this week is "what our Mum did to our hair". I know in the family archive I have a perfect photo for this theme. Unfortunately the family archive lives in Sydney and the custodian of the family archive is away on an Italian sojourn. (Hi Mum!) I can only tell you about the special hair, but it's not the same.

I think it must have been one of those "let's take some decent photos of the kids" sessions. In those days, for special occasions, you brought out the Hot Rollers. My sister and I would have been so excited, doing our hair like Mum. And not content with adding fine upward curls to the bottom of our dead straight hair, using the largest rollers of course, Mum also popped a warm roller into my little brother's blonde baby hair, giving him one beautiful curl at the top of his head. The photo of him is adorable.

But I can't show you that photo. Instead, here's a couple of photos where there is evidence of what Mum did to our hair. Which was nothing too atrocious.

Definitely a home haircut on my fringe, wouldn't you say? No idea whether the handiwork was mine or Mum's. I know I definitely have trimmed both my kids' hair, but Climber's is so straight and thick I can't really get away with that anymore. I do love this photo. Mum with her girls. My mum is so blonde and glamorous. I think there was still a degree of back-combing going on with Mum's hair in those days. Bronnie and I loved her long hair, loved seeing her get dressed up in some of her fabulous party frocks. Like the leopard print pant suit with a plunging neckline and the hole in the stomach. Or the bright yellow mini dress. I've got 2 of Mum's glam outfits in the back of my wardrobe. The woolen LBD gets the occasional airing but the rainbow skort dress has been a little snug since Cherub's birth. Sadly. One day...

Hair photo #2. Do you think she could have parted my hair properly on School Photo Day?!?! Geez.

Or is forgetting that it's School Photo Day genetic?

The Bompy Alla song was indeed Pump It by the Black Eyed Peas. Well done to Caramaena, Jac & Siobhan for recognising it, and to Blue Mountains Mary for correctly identifying which bandwagon to jump on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Henna Song

My preferred method of keeping the kids quiet in the car is listening to the i-a-pod. I can't say it the real way anymore, Cherub says eye-apod and now so do I. That talk is so catching. The kids love the music. Cherub is forever calling from the back of the car Can you put that song louder please?

Anyway. You know that song Iko Iko? (Here's one of the versions I like, best use of bike shorts in an 80s video I must say.)

Well, we love that song, but this morning we heard the Doctor John version, which is not the usual one for us. (We're favouring the Dixie Cups.) And it took a while for this to sink in, that this was the same song done a different way. Climber cottoned on first. We had quite a chat about it. Then a minute or so later when I thought we'd finished with the subject, the Cherub piped up: Mummy you got 2 hennas, do you.


I'm a bit slow sometimes. Climber worked it out for me.

Talking 'bout Hey Now (hey now) Hey Now (hey now)
Iko Iko ah nay ... etc

Anyway. I thought I would issue a challenge. Because recently I had to decipher a very difficult song request, courtesy of the Climber. I cracked it after a day (obviously I wasn't thinking about it the whole time) but I had an advantage because I know the songlist on the i-a-pod.

So here it is, as he told it to me:

BOMPY ... alla
BOMPY ... alla
... the radio
... the stereo

Have a go. Once you get the Henna Song out of your head, obviously

Monday, September 17, 2007

We gave our pram away.

I love to hear birth stories. That was by far and away the most interesting session in the early nurse-supervised-days of our Mother's Group, where we all got to sit round and find out about everyone's different labours and deliveries. (Although, the Baby First Aid session was also fairly memorable; shouting WAKE UP BABY at a rubber baby doll before attempting CPR on it whilst simultaneously praying that I never had to do that to a real child.) Every birth story is so very different, even if you have the same circumstances as someone else, such as emergency caesar or VBAC or whatever. I'm always willing to hear the full blow-by-blow account and will gasp sympathetically at the appropriate moments.

Anyway, this week Fixit and I discovered a similarly fascinating type of story - the Vasectomy Story. I was under the impression that men didn't really discuss their vasectomies. You know the way men all wince in sympathy when you take the family pet to be neutered? As if the mere thought of any pain or damage to the family jewels was too terrible to be considered? This behaviour led me to suppose, mistakenly, that men didn't like to even think about, let alone discuss, assaults on the meat & two veg. Apparently, however, undergoing vasectomy is more on par with childbirth. In that It's Fun To Share!

We've heard about elephantitis. And bruising. Of days and days of pain. (And days and days of whingeing if you hear the wife's version.) Of tear-filled eyes upon first sitting astride the motorbike an entire week afterwards. It's all been very interesting.

Going ...

I therefore feel that I can share with you all the fact that Fixit was Done last Friday. I may as well tell everyone here, it's been a very public vasectomy for the poor man. All the blokes at his work know, as do all my friends, our newsagent and our chiropractor. So far I've held off on telling my Tap Students but I wouldn't put it past me.

Going ...

True to form, Fixit was incredibly stoic and made no fuss at all. I was the one getting all twittery in the lead-up, no doubt making it worse for him by regularly asking him if he was sure he wasn't nervous. I had to restrain myself from giving him reassuring pats on the bollocks. He said once you've seen your bone sticking out of your leg, a simple surgical procedure (even one that involves needles directly into highly sensitive areas) doesn't seem too dramatic. The whole thing took 30 minutes which included paying the bill. The only moment of drama came when Fixit instinctively braced as the first needle approached, whereupon the surgeon said very sternly "Don't kick me! I've got an open needle in my hand and you wouldn't want it going into the wrong place, now, would you?" Fixit said he wondered to himself where on his body could possibly be worse than the area for which it was heading. The only place he could think of was the eyeball.


He was advised to make me wait on him hand and foot on Friday night, which pretty much happened. And he told me at about 8pm that what he really felt like was a glass (or 2 or 3) of scotch (sadly we had none), but that was as pathetic as he got. There has been some swelling, nothing scary though. He was a bit slower around the house over the weekend, but still participated willingly in chores such as dish-washing, clothes-washing and yard-clearing, as well as the fun stuff like visits and cafe brunches. There was no need for pain-killers or frozen peas. Sure he drank red wine every night but then so did I.

The worst part of it has been the news that it will take at least 8 weeks before we can really relax about the whole contraception thing. So the night away from the kids, staying in a hotel (his sister's forthcoming wedding) isn't going to be quite as much fun as I'd thought...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I now pronounce you ...

No, this is not about weddings. It's about the way we talk round here.

* * *

Cherub is all about Do I? and Are you? and Is it? Which sounds alright, until you tag it on the end of things as he does. He's not really asking, if you know what I mean. He doesn't say it with a rising inflection. It's more like a little confirmation at the end of his statements.
I like Maisie, do I.

This is MY toothbrush, is it.

You're staying tonight, are you.
This last gets asked, anxiously, at least 20 times a week. I go out and teach on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I've done this for as long as they can remember and they're good, they don't fuss or cling. And of course Fixit takes perfectly good care of them. Yet Cherub has learned the days of the week based on which nights I'm at home to put him to bed. It's a little bit touching and a big bit guilt-making. What day is it today? he'll ask, and if it's a stay-at-home night he says Yay. If it's a tap night he is sad, and he tells me: Me and Climber hate it when you go, do we. Do we, Climber? And Climber says Yes.

* * *
Climber remarked to me yesterday that Next-door-boy has trouble pronouncing his "j" sound. I asked for a demonstration. Apparently it sounds like zholly not jolly. Climber tells me this as a matter of observation, he is not judgemental. And he says to me reassuringly But that's alright. He's from Albury*.

* * *
My name is slightly difficult for a child to say. I made a list of all the different ways I've heard it said over the years. (I had to edit this to include 2 more*, which both Astrid and Nell reminded me about)
  • Cawoline or Tawoline Most 4 and 5 year olds
  • Calorine My cousin Anna, years ago
  • Talorine Next-door-girl, last week
  • Tannine Climber, aged about 2*
  • Harline Cherub, aged about 2, going through an Hispanic stage*
  • Taline Cherub, aged about 3
  • Caline Climber & Cherub, aged 3
  • Laline Me, aged little. Some of my aunts still like to call me this.

* Albury is a large country town on the Victorian and New South Welsh border. They don't really have an accent. Although when I was telling Crafty about Climber's comment she remarked that you could say Albury-ans have a bogan accent, and suggested that Cherub should be sent up there to sort them out. I should also mention that Next-door-boy is missing his 2 front teeth at this stage of his life and it's never easy to talk perfectly without them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Red F.

Once upon a time a Primary School celebrated Book Week. There was a dress-up parade where students came as their favourite character from a book.

And there was a book-writing competition.

At this school was a boy called Climber. He wanted to enter a book for the competition, so he started a book about a Uni-pus (a one-limbed Cephalopod) ...

... and another book about Useful Spells ...

... which his mother found in many strange places around the house. But it was not until Climber's mother went to school for her regular classroom session that she realised why there were so many little books around the house. Climber's teacher had only told the students about the competition and assumed the children would tell their parents. Hmmmm.

So Climber's mother and Climber started work on a book for the competition. They had 2 days in which to get it done. Not long to come up with a whole book. But then they remembered a story that Climber had started writing back in April ...

... and they decided to finish it off together.

Work began. At Climber's insistence ("it has to be neat, you're supposed to type it"), Climber's mother typed up Chapter One ...

... and Chapter 2, while Climber started on the illustrations.

Then Climber dictated Chapter 3 ...

... and they finished the book with Chapter 4. A rousing good ending he dreamed up all by himself.

All that was left to do was a Cover Page and The Red F was complete.

They entered it for the competition and waited for 2 weeks. Climber's mother hoped that signs of parental involvement did not weigh against him. She included a copy of his original work in the back of the book so that the judges could see that he did in fact write it himself. She also emphasised to Climber that it was immaterial whether or not he won the competition, because the main thing was he had written his first book and that it was wonderful. But she allowed herself to hope.


He did not win.

Climber's mother assumes that the winning entries were of Booker Prize-winning standard to have edged out her child's masterpiece but she refrains from saying that in front of him.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Boys are from Mars, Girls are from Venus.

Cherub and Next-door-girl continue to have the nicest little friendship. These two little curly-headed moppets are a real source of happiness for me as I watch them walk around our house together from game to game. I've never had to adjudicate any disagreements between them and they are so in tune with each other that they unconsciously imitate each other’s speech patterns.

I was watching them play recently and gained an insight into the different ways that girls and boys play. One of their favourite games at our house is this fold-down truck which when you collapse it flat reveals a mini road and industrial centre with miniature cars. Hours of fun. And it's not that Cherub has never anthropomorphised the cars, there have been frequent car conversations along the lines of "I'm going to go into my garage now etc". But when Next-door-girl plays with him, the cars all have to have names and relationships with each other [Venus] to enhance the play. And it seems that Cherub finds this slightly unnecessary [Mars] in that it interferes with the action.

Here's how it goes.

NDG's car : Daddy, daddy, will you take me for a ride?
Cherub's car : (in slightly grumpy tone) I'm not your daddy.
NDG's car : (not at all grumpy, problem-solving) Who are you then?
Cherub's car : (thinking he knows how to get out of this one) I'm Fixit.
NDG's car : (happily adapting herself to new circumstances) Fixit, Fixit, will you take me for a ride?
Cherub's car : (starting to lose track now) Who are you?
NDG's car : (still going with the flow) I'm Climber!
Cherub's car : (totally blocking now, why can't we just brrrm the cars?) No I can't. .... I have to take Cherub for a ride. (brrrrms off)

The sound of my laughter distracted them from playing on.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wabbit Hair.

The Cherub came into our bedroom this morning to tell me that Fixit has wabbit hair.

I had to ask him what he meant. He traced Fixit's hairline for me. See? The ears? Rabbit hair.

Before they ring the bell at Climber's school each morning, they play music to alert the kids to stop playing and line up outside their classroom door. This morning I suddenly realised they were blasting out Luciano Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma (None Shall Sleep). It made me cry.

I modified a favourite muffin recipe with great success to create ...

Walnut & Cinnamon Muffins.

2 1/2 cups (375g) Self-Raising Flour
3/4 cup (165g) Caster Sugar
1 tspn Cinnamon
1 Egg, beaten lightly
1/3 cup (80ml) Apple Puree (if no apple, just double the vegetable oil so that you have 2/3 cup of it)
1/3 cup (80ml) Vegetable Oil
3/4 cup (180ml) Buttermilk
1 (generous) tablespoon Golden Syrup
180g Chopped Walnuts

1. Preheat oven to moderately hot (200 - 210 deg. C. or 400 deg. F.) Grease a 12 hole muffin pan. (Actually my batch made 15 muffins all up)

2. Sift flour, sugar and cinnamon into large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. (Don't overdo it, muffins don't work if you stir too much)

3. Divide mixture into muffin holes. Bake for 20 minutes. Stand 5 minutes, turn onto wire rack to cool.

Bloody yum.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Climber's guests.

Angelina came for a play at our place yesterday. You should have seen the look on the face of their teacher, K, when I picked both of them up. It started with really? moved quickly to are you sure you should be doing this? before settling on amused resignation. Have I mentioned that K had to move Climber to a different table in class because Angelina and he were getting too distracted when they sat near each other?

The playdate has actually been on the agenda for a good few weeks but I was a bit slack in ringing her folks to arrange it, to the point where I was avoiding Angelina in the schoolyard because she was on to me e-v-e-r-y day: Have you rung my mum yet? Eventually I hurriedly phoned her mother 5 minutes before the school bell rang on Monday; she was mortified about the possibility that her daughter had been hounding me. Well look, Angelina was very keen to set this playdate up but she has always been perfectly charming about it, and I like a kid who can look you in the eye and ask directly for what they want. In fact, I prefer that to kids who want me to do all the work for them.

Within 10 minutes of arriving....

... both Angelina and the Climber were up on the roof. It took a while for me to work out that the noises I could hear outside were something that required a degree of parental investigation. My distracted brain finally registered that the heavy stomping noise atop the metal verandah was probably not made by birds.

Cherub has fallen under Angelina's spell too and was thoroughly excited to have her over. In fact when the 3 of us walked into Cherub's creche to pick him up, it was Angelina who got the overjoyed cuddle and not me. The three of them had a lovely play and repeat visits have already been requested.

I wish all of Climber's visitors were so charming.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fathers' Day and all the other bits around it.

I've had one of those weeks where I've done quite a lot but I'm not sure what to say about it. But according to Nell I should be posting 3 times a week, and there are no children rattling round the house demanding attention or nutrition, so I am starting the typing in the hope that I can write something entertaining. Or at least coherent.

We had a Grandparents' Day at school last week and up till the last minute I was unsure as to whether we could manage to produce a grandparent for the Climber. My father has a mammoth work schedule and is therefore not reliably available. My mother usually lives in Sydney (when she is not flitting off on Italian sojourns) so no hope there, and Fixit's parents have had their hands full managing Fixit's mother's near-death experience with a dangerously blocked bile-duct (I think; there was a whacking great gall-stone in a vital tube which meant no bile could drain out so she was practically poisoning herself but as ever I am vague on actual details. Anyway. She is much better now thank goodness, and no-one told them till afterwards how close a call she had). In the end, my Dad did make it for us and was only slightly late, so we had a good time interviewing him about the Olden Days. The kids had questions about where we went to school etc and my memory was severely tested trying to recall the name of my Grade One teacher. I answered "Mrs Martin" for Climber's benefit but she could just as easily have been my Grade 2 teacher in which case I'm stumped. Straw poll: Can you remember the name of YOUR First Grade Teacher? I know my Dad couldn't. The closest he could get was that she was definitely a Nun, so he told Climber her first name was "Sister".

On Friday I had a friendly lunch time gossip with fellow bloggers House&Baby and Adventures of Teacup over at Aunty Cookie's place. Lots of small people playing in the lounge room while Jo and I took turns cuddling Baby Sadie and the talk skittered through night-sweats, Owen Wilson, tap-students and obstetricians, while Shannon fed us the nicest lunch I've had in quite a while; scrummy gourmet rolls. Not that it takes much to top toast-n-vegemite, but still. It was a bloody nice lunch.

On Saturday I had a massive day, starting with early morning chiropractor session and teaching the Kiddy Tap Classes, followed by lunch, then an hour-long drive to a friend's tap school where I taught for 2 hours before driving home for another hour, then dinner/bath/bed for the kids after which Fixit and I went out to the 'burbs for his brother's 40th birthday party and Nell babysat. Ma & Pa Fixit were at the party, and Fixit's brother nearly started sobbing during his speech when he went to say how much he loved his Mum. He's a Big Man, 6-foot-4 and S-O-L-I-D but he's the biggest softie you've ever met.

And Sunday being Fathers' Day, we started with pancakes for brunch, then with Nell in tow (in the front seat actually, she was whingeing about a sore back) we drove for ages...

... out to Healesville to get lost in the Hedgend Maze. Which was quite a lot of fun, but don't order coffee if you go there. Just saying. The hedge maze took at least an hour to navigate and Cherub got too tired after a while so he and I bailed to the observation tower and tried to steer the others out via mobile phone. Not that easy actually, because the tower wasn't really high enough to show the gaps. Eventually Fixit, Nell and Climber emerged triumphant. Most of the photos are on Nell's camera and will be put on my Flickr site at a later date. But this is one from my phone-cam.

A good time was had by all.