So I am feeling quite seedy as I type this today. Which means I may not do this post credit.
The seediness is a result of last night's celebrations for the significant birthday of my dear friend Nell. As we all know there are no numbers after 29 but yesterday marked the 12th time that particular anniversary was celebrated. Actually I don't think Nell is as afraid of the numbers as I am - she wrote "I'm 40" on her invite with large lettering and placed it prominently on the front. That's Nell for you, she says it loud, says it proud.
Anyway. Crafty very kindly babysat the kids, and Fixit and I headed off to South Melbourne for a party in a beer garden. It was a good party, lots of laughing, drinking, smoking. Almost as if we were all 20 again really. But just maybe we're all more relaxed in our own skin now, and happy to be who we are. That's one of the things I love about Nell; that she wears herself without apology. She embraces her friends and family with love, warts and all. I don't know if it is the product of being the school-teacher's daughter in a small country town, but she resists peer group pressure like no-one I know. She goes gung-ho for stuff she likes without fear of being thought daggy or eccentric (not that she is either of those things!). She's a great chick, is Nell. I can take her anywhere, introduce her to anyone and she will join in and make the occasion fun. She plays with our kids and helps with their care and connects with them on a level most children don't expect from grown-ups. She can gossip and character assassinate with the best of them should I require that (and often I do), but her eyes are also open for everyone's good side. She is no stranger to sadness but she deals with it with a bit of medication and a lot of humour (I know that sounds a bit bonkers but it's true). I love her so much.
Her friend Shelly and I organised the group gift, a diamond. Nell's inheritance from her grandmother, a diamond ring, was taken in a burglary years ago so this is by way of being a replacement. We will be taking her to a jewellers later on and she can prescribe the rock she wants! Meanwhile we gave her a sparkly costume ring.
Happy Birthday Nell.
Love from Fixit, Climber and Cherub. And me of course.
Flashback Friday theme this week is Best and Favourite Toys and Activities. So here is my sister (on the left) with me, doing one of the all-time-favourite kid activities. Which is of course, playing with or sitting in a box.
Maybe one that your Christmas present came in.
Maybe one that the nappies came in.
Careful!! Maybe one you don't even fit in any more.
* Our pram has moved up in the world. It's carrying royalty now. The girl we gave it to called her daughter "Princess". Seriously.
* Mister Fixit brokeit. He defrosted the fridge and the thermostat snapped. Probably due to the Titanic-sinking amount of ice attached around it. We had to call in a Professional Fixit. That's 2 household appliances gone bust recently, no wait, 3 if you count the gas heater which Fixit managed to kickstart into life again. It broke the same weekend as the great oven disaster and we couldn't be bothered calling in the landlords again.
* We had Crafty and her mob over for a barbecue on Sunday.
* We went to the zoo on the weekend - there were extra activities to celebrate Children's Week. I stood my kids in front of a dancing activity and they stayed stock still. Then as we waited in line for the carousel they played Abba's Dancing Queen and Climber burst into a spontaneous tapdance. When we left the zoo they gave us a showbag and a questionnaire. Which included this question: What do you think Children's Week celebrates? Umm..... children? Is that a trick question?
* That freaky hot day on Sunday? Gelobar. Blood orange, passionfruit and mango gelati. Mmmmm.
* I shouted at Climber for making me shout at him when I had all but lost my voice. I knew it was insane at the time but I was really pissed off.
My mum's father was called Grandad by us. He was a father to seven children. The youngest was nine-ish when I was born, which might explain his relaxed hold on me.
He was in the Navy for a while and he was a lawyer. But I knew him mainly as a judge. Which is maybe why I was slightly awed by him. I loved him but I always felt I needed to behave well in his presence.
When I did my Post-Graduate Diploma in Melbourne, I studied in a building with his surname. It took me a year to realise it was actually named after my Grandfather. I really wanted to tell him that, about how proud that made me feel, but it was several years too late by then. And maybe he would have minded that I was unaware that he was so important people named buildings after him? I don't know. We grew up in another state, so we saw him once or twice a year on average.
As well as being a judge, he was also a Sir. I remember when he came to Canberra to be knighted by the Governor-General.
As he aged he became a much softer person. My mother and aunts occasionally joked about how his eyes would fill with tears and his voice would break when he remembered his own mother. Family was important to him. He gave me a photo album with significant photos in it, so that I would know about my family. He started putting together the family tree. When he became very ill he held on until he felt he had settled his 2 youngest children satisfactorily. When he lay dying, Mum told me took everyone's hands and kissed them, his last good-bye.
He liked to give books as presents. He loved salt on his meals - even when the heart doctor told him to cut it out he still lavishly seasoned his dinner using salt-substitute. He was glad that I learned piano. He talked to me seriously. He didn't tease.
My Dad's father we called Grandpa. I remember him as soft-spoken but maybe this is because he was on oxygen during the last few years of his life. I think he was the sort of person who really loved small children, who wanted them to sit by him and found them funny. I remember laughter about him, a sort of happy chuckle.
He was a Mister Fixit too, he worked on the Olympic Village for the 1956 games. He volunteered for the Red Cross after he retired. I do that now. I only just made that connection.
I think he and Grandma did 'outings' for us, like taking us to Luna Park and to see Phar Lap at the Museum.
It's funny the things you remember, isn't it? It's been 26 years since Grandpa died and 19 years since Grandad died, which is all my adult life. So I only have these childish memories; feelings, and impressions. My knowledge of both of them is second-hand, almost. I can still hear their voices and picture them quite clearly though.
Despite the fact that this is a crappy photo taken with my phone I think you can see the happiness bursting out of this child. All because he rode his bike to school yesterday for Ride to Work Day. This is a manufactured experience, we live too far from his school for him to really ride the whole distance. (Although once he is older we might give it a shot. I seem to remember riding my bike a fair way in my school days) So I took the bike for a drive to Cherub's creche, then Climber and I used foot-power to get to school. This photo is taken really close to where we used to live; the park just behind Climber is where his first 2 birthday parties were held because we had almost no backyard in our house. Fixit and I really miss living in this area, even though we now live in a perfectly good area with an enviable backyard. And I feel a bit wistful about Climber not being able to walk or ride to school, if truth be told. But it's having your cake and eating it territory. Climber could very easily ride to school if we sent him to the local one, but we wanted him to come here. So shutup whining already.
The same day we had the Prep to Grade 2 Sports Day in the park across the road from his school. Not a competition as such. I didn't get to barrack for the Climber's 'house', we just sat on a rug watching the kids rotate through a few different sporting activities like frisbee-throwing or net-casting-&-catching.
This lack of competition eventually made a couple of us decide to just get up and cheer the kids over the mini-hurdles. We cheered them if we knew their names. It made them run faster which was quite funny.
And then after all that extra fun, I took Climber to the first session of the pottery course he'll be doing, alongside Next-door-boy, for the next 6 weeks. Fun with clay at a Neighbourhood House, which is like a community centre I suppose. The new families among us stood round the edge of the room in that slightly nervous are we in the right room way. Eventually the teacher came in and fired a few questions at the middle of the room. How many children have I got? Hmm, dunno, seeing as I'm new here... Suddenly her gaze fixed on me, sizing me up as a new parent and presumably a potential trouble-maker because her introductory words to me were I get very testy if people are late so I'm going to give you my phone number. Make sure you call me if you're late or I get quite annoyed.
How on earth could she tell that I'm sometimes late for things?
Also when I get new students to my tap classes I generally say something along the lines of you must be ... hello and welcome, I'm Miss Caroline and I speak to both the parent and the new child and tell them helpful things like where the toilets are and where to change their shoes etc. And I never grump at latecomers, or if I do it's only to tease Astrid.
The boys really enjoyed the class of course. They never care about things like formalities.
Lady Shoes. I've been dancing in flats for years now, because you can do everything in them with ease and accuracy. My last pair of Mary Jane tap shoes got trashed by the ex-proprietor of the school I taught at; between her and the beginner students who borrowed them I had the heel knocked off twice and one of the tap plates was lost for ever. Now here I am years later, back in heels, and enjoying myself. This weekend my ladyshoes and I performed at the Station Street Fiesta in Fairfield. Joining us were the beautiful Tap Kids and the Glamorous Tap-pets.
If you can bear it, here is some video footage of the little kids performing. I haven't posted the grown-ups' troupe stuff because I'm ridiculously paranoid about having my choreography copied. *mutters darkly* ...It's happened before...*end mutter*. But our stuff was very well received. Cute kids always steal the show though, don't they? If you're looking for Climber & Cherub, they're standing near me. Climber wears a red shirt, and Cherub has the tap hat on. He loves to wear the tap hat. When I wander in amongst the kids I'm pretending to spray them, the music they are dancing to is a very famous advertisement for Mortein Flyspray.
The second video is just a snippet, indulging my motherly pride at the way Climber can just jam like a pro when you ask him. He's good and comfortable about it, and once he starts, the other kids fire up and have a go too. He is second from the left in the red shirt.
Ah, public performances! I always feel sick in the stomach for a couple of hours prior to the show, have a ball when I'm out there and am inordinately relieved when it's all over. Having to be the producer and a performer doubles the stress. I will be enjoying a celebratory and soothing glass of wine tonight.
...my darling I've hungered for your touch a long lonely time and time goes by so slowly and time can do so much are you still mine? I need your love I need your love Godspeed your love to me
Congratulations and well done, Jenny!! Yes, the Righteous Brothers, The Unchained Melody, the theme from Ghost. So easy!! Although there were many other wonderful guesses, and anyone who strayed in to Whitney or Celine territory was definitely an honourable mention. Sheep's Clothing also got it right, so email me your address and I will send a prize your way as well. The cryptic clue (Starting Over) that a few people got excited about was not meant to be a clue. It was all about the bride, who had a fairly disastrous first marriage and is now glowing with happiness at her new chance for happiness in life. She couldn't tell me enough that life begins at 40.
In other news, it was Fixit's birthday and it was totally drowned by the wedding and post wedding exhaustion. He received only one phone call the whole day to wish him happy birthday. (If my family are reading this and feeling bad right now, well don't, because nearly everyone forgot and actually now I think of it I never remember Bronnie's partner's birthday because it's the same day as Cherub's, so who am I to criticise?)
Anyway. He's been neglected, poor Fixit. I managed to bake a cake, rustle up a card and give him 3 very nice shirts, so I wasn't totally derelict, but dinner was ordinary and then I went to work.
For a change I decorated the birthday cake on my own, and to amuse myself I made an almost (didn't quite have enough matching smarties) symmetrical pattern. I didn't really think the kids would pick up on it, they're usually too busy trying to sneak a smartie off the edges without getting caught, but Climber was absolutely delighted and talked to Fixit for a good 5 minutes about it. Look it goes purple orange pink red here and also over here. And look it yellow green blue etc. He liked it so much, he drew it.
I am going to share some images from the family nuptial celebrations we attended this weekend, and I do apologise if looking at other people's wedding photos makes your eyes bleed.
Here is the bride, Fixit's older sister, emerging from the limousine.
These are the children of the first marriages of the bride and groom. The two on the left are twins and 8 years old, our niece and nephew. As you can see, our niece is glowing with happiness, she sparkled all day. Our nephew was under threat of no Simpsons, computer or Playstation for a year if he failed to smile in the photos. As you can see, he doesn't actually manage to crack a smile but he stayed still and didn't pull belligerent faces which is an enormous improvement on his usual attitude to being photographed. All 3 kids were really well behaved over the long day.
Got to show you the Mother of The Bride, of course. Also have to show you the Brother of The Bride, in a tie! We don't see that very often round here.
A phrase that cropped up a couple of times during the ceremony was: "God brought the bride and groom together through the internet". I guess that's one of those things that nobody will bat an eyelid at in years to come, but I hadn't previously equated God with internet usage before this weekend. Anyway, it is pretty much what happened, they met through an online Christian site at the beginning of the year. Marrying them was the Groom's best friend, a pastor at their church in South Australia. His service was particularly heartfelt due to his evident affection for the bride and groom.
We hung out with these people and had enormous fun. They are Fixit's big brother and his partner. I would say we all had equal sized headaches the next morning. The bride and groom (and many of the groom's family) are teetotal but as they'd asked Fixit's parents to pay for the wedding, it was not a 'dry' reception. Although we had to do all the wedding toasts with non-alcoholic champagne.
And here at last are the Bride and Groom. We won't be seeing much of them anymore as they are all going to live in South Australia from now on.
Finally I give you Pa Fixit and me, dancing the Bridal Waltz.
Fixit disappeared when it started, (he always disappears when the bridal waltz starts!!! Not that I'm at all bothered by this, can you tell?!) Allegedly his bladder was bursting after the hour-long speeches. But he joined me quite a lot for the rest of the dance-floor action.
Is it only in Australia that you can pretty much predict the songlist at a wedding reception? You know, the Macarena, the Nutbush, the Chicken Dance, the Bus-stop, the Jive Bunny rock n roll mix, the Jive Bunny Beach Boys mix etc etc.
I've got a spare copy of the Mrs Wainwright cd (the one I tap-danced on) for the first person who can guess the Bridal Waltz song. You only get one guess.
Here is a picture of The Climber after his first day at Soccer Camp. (There is no actual camping involved, it's just a 2-day workshop but I had to call it something.) He's wearing the hat that Socceroo Archie Thompson signed for him when he visited the Camp. Although check out that signature. Really anyone could have come along and scribbled on that hat. Can't even tell what number he's written beneath it. Doesn't matter though. Look at the happy face underneath it. A Socceroo signed his hat. Cool.
I turn up early today (the last day) to watch the final half-hour. In time to see his little group playing a 3-a-side tournament. Climber is on the sidelines, occasionally offering advice to his friend in goal.
The whistle blows. Their coach calls them over and announces the 2 finalist teams in the World Cup: Australia and Italy. I worry that Climber might not be part of it but turns out he's Italian - Il Climber - who knew?
He has some very authoritative boys in his team. Bossy, even. One waves his hand at Il Climber. You go in goal. Il Climber does not mind, he fancies himself as a goalie.
Play begins. I find myself very tense. If he misses a lot of goals will his little heart break, bearing in mind that this is the end of his second day of full-on soccer fun and he is VERY tired? Also, will he get a fair go with those bossy team-mates of his? And why is he trying to swing off the bar of the inflatable goal? He should be Watching The Ball. So his team can win. Oh Lord. I think I'm turning into an obnoxious soccer parent. Help.
I'm quite impressed with the playing ability of the boys. Italy opens the scoring but Australia fights back gamely. Il Climber makes 2 very good saves, but also lets in 2 goals. And just as the whistle blows when Italy are 3-2 up, Il Climber lets in Australia's last-minute desperate equaliser.
A draw, I think. Oh good. No tears, everyone's done well. But NO!! Penalty shoot-out. Flipping heck. I'm pretty anxious by this stage. Is this going to ruin the whole Soccer Camp experience? The pressure is high on the goalie in a penalty shoot-out.
However. The bossy team-mates do not give Il Climber the goalie job when a penalty shoot-out is at stake, electing instead to put themselves in. And they of course take the early penalty kicks.
So that the balance of the game suddenly hangs on Il Climber's penalty kick. If he misses, Australia win. If he gets it in ...
The insanity that saw me taking the kids to the Royal Melbourne Show the day after we'd been to the Thomas Spectacular continues. It was all birthday party party party over the weekend, then Mother's Group at our place Monday. Tuesday, Cherub went to creche whilst I tried to stay on top of the domestic side of things (pumpkin soup, more sourdough and washing. Lots of washing) and the Climber and the Next-door children amused themselves around me. Yesterday the Climber and Next-door-Boy went to a Lego afternoon workshop at the Lego Educational Centre, while I tried to shop for Fixit's impending birthday. Today and Friday the Climber is off all day learning soccer at a Fun Football Session. Friday night we have a good friend's 40th, then Saturday and Sunday we're out to Healesville for Fixit's sister's wedding. Nell is staying at our house with the kids, under strict instructions to be as lazy as possible. Monday is Fixit's birthday. I've canceled the Kid Tap Class for this week, it was either that or a melt-down.
Poor Climber will be going back to school for a chill-out.
Meanwhile, Cherub and I went for a mother-child blogmeet at H&B's house (saw the lovely house, met the lovely baby) with Lazy Cow and her lovely blonde blue-eyed brood. H&B claims to not be much of a hostess but she looked after us in style and Master C did a fine job sharing his toys. A really nice morning.
...is left-handed (we're pretty sure). And he loves to do whatever his big brother does.
... thinks The Climber is the best person in the whole world. The best.
... is a very sociable chap. He loves to play with his friends. He loves to go to creche. He has many grown-up friends too. He has nearly killed himself by trying to rush on to a crowded main road so that he could hurl himself into the arms of one of his favourite people, Elda.
... has a Best [grown-up] Friend in Nell. When she comes to our house on Saturday they are almost inseparable. She lets him help make her coffee and he wants her to give him his bath and read his bedtime story. They have a special bond.
... is lucky to be surrounded by loving family and friends. No wonder he is such an affectionate, happy, good-natured little boy. He and Climber are the lights of our lives, the apples of our eyes.
... still needs help blowing out the candles on his birthday cake.
NB. All photos featuring the children are now classified as "private" on Flickr and can only be seen by my Contacts (that is, if you click through to Flickr for a better look at them). If I know you or your blog I am happy to be friends with you on Flickr . Joining is free and easy, and you can store up to 200 photos there.