Monday, March 31, 2008

Little Notes

Just call me Ms. Virtuous because I cleaned up my house in the middle of the school holidays instead of waiting in ever-growing mess and hatred of said ever-growing mess till the kids weren't around. It looks great, apart from the laundry-basket full of stuff found in the Grown-Ups' Room that belongs in other rooms (mostly the boys' room), and the box of Lego that needs sorting. But both those receptacles are tucked away tidily behind the door. Also, I did the unheard of and mopped my floor twice in one day because we had Mother's Group here this morning. And although I knew having 10 kids here on a rainy day meant it would be madness to mop before they arrived, I just had to do it. Mostly because one of the visitors is still crawling. When they're all upright they can run around on my filthy floor. Until then, I will do the right thing. I just mopped again when they all left, and it didn't kill me.

During my clean up I found a few notes around the house. Climber has been just checking in with Lego..

... making sure he'll remember all the things he'll need when he sets off to Hogwarts next term...

... making assignations with girl students from Hogwarts. (What could it possibly be about? Do you think they're part of a secret club or something?)

... and doing his Potions homework.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour

We turned off our lights for Earth Hour last night. Fixit and I sat together in the romantic semi-darkness, holding our separate crosswords as close to our flames as possible. It was all right. We had to set a tea-light candle outside the kids' door while they fell asleep but they didn't seem to mind. I don't know if we saved a lot of energy because our light bulbs are all the good greenie low energy ones, but speaking as one who (a) is not happy in dimly lit environs, (b) lives in a house where light switches are in stupid places due to cheapskate landlords so it's easier to leave them on rather than hunt for the switch in the dark every time you walk through the kitchen and (c) always worries about the fire risks of candle-burning, I would say that the evening taught me that I could operate with fewer lights left on. And maybe I will try that from now on.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It would be the expensive atlas, wouldn't it?

Whilst I realise that the twin crimes of book defacement and brother defamation are serious issues, the actual ticking off I delivered upon discovery of this :

... was, frankly, lame and tame. This was because I was very close to giggling the whole time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Beach Holiday

Lovely beach holiday, thanks for asking. Thanks to my Aunt, Uncle & Cousins for putting us up so magnificently. And thanks to Nell who sat the cat. The boys had not one...

... but two Easter Egg hunts,

... Climber went out in a canoe,

...Cherub fell passionately in love with my cousin Caitlin and is still periodically telling us that he is missing her. (Climber would have written her a letter by now - and indeed has offered to do so on Cherub's behalf - but Cherub just puts on his sad face and tells us. Again. And. Again.)

Best of all I got to rediscover my inner kid, frolicking - yes, frolicking - in the surf for ages, catching every wave with all the body-surfing skills acquired in my youth and oh my lord it was SO MUCH FUN!! All because my relatives talked me into borrowing a wetsuit. Wetsuits rock!! Especially the winter ones which are even warm enough for snakes like me.

So I found out I wasn't too old to play in the sea, I was only too cold.

(Victorian beaches, just for the record are chilly compared to the New South Welsh beaches I grew up with, and freezing compared to Queensland or Western Australian waters.)

I reluctantly left the water when I noticed the kids had turned blue.

Monday, March 24, 2008

In which I rant and not many people know what I'm on about.

So if one described the style of tap taught at ones school as unique, would you think you were getting something really special and sign up?

Or would you wonder why one had chosen that particular epithet? I'm sure Clarissa Dickson-Wright has a unique style of tap-dancing but it does not necessarily mean I want to pay to watch it or pay her to teach it to me... and why would one choose that description? Unique. You'd almost think that one was worried that people might think one had 'borrowed' ones stylings from other sources and wanted to reassure us that it was definitely not the case.

We're back, by the way. Photos soon. Just had to get that off my chest.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Trainee Days

Fixit's first week at the new job was a total bludge, it must be admitted. He was only physically on the premises for a period of 7 hours during his first 4 days. They said they were paying him, so we're not complaining. His nose is well and truly on the grindstone now, though. It's Back-To-School for Mister Fixit. Or back to TAFE (Technical And Further Education) if you want to be accurate.

From what Fixit tells me of his TAFEs (this is his second time now), specifically TAFEs that educate mechanics, they seem like a little pocket of 1970/80s bogan Australia. His descriptions immediately conjure up my High School days - even though I had some tremendously good and progressive teachers there I must add - in that there existed this student culture where scholastic achievement equalled social suicide, as did expressing your own personality or beliefs. I thought we'd moved on as a country, grown up, achieved some insight and sophistication. But Fixit tells me I'm just stuck in an ivory tower of middle class bohemian niceness, and that if I ventured out of my sanctum I would see what the great unwashed were really like.

These are -really and truly- some things Fixit was told in the introductory speech at TAFE. That is is Not Allright to call a poof a poof. That you are not allowed to whistle at, make comments to or put your hands on attractive young girlies whilst on the TAFE premises, even if they are wearing tiny little shorts. Save it for the shopping mall across the way. If you see some Muslim women wearing the full veil you are Not Allowed to pretend to wave your Star Wars light sabre at them in a mock duel. They don't like it.

I get that they need to tell the young kiddies the right way to behave, in a way that will not set up their backs, but Geez. Talk about believing in the message you preach.

Luckily Fixit is part of a group of adult apprentices so he won't be forced to endure the company of bogan teenagers for the next 4 weeks. There are other men in their 30s doing his course. Meanwhile, the workload is pretty full-on and there are penalties for breaches; such as paying $140 to re-sit any tests you fail, and being sent home for the day if you forget your safety glasses and having your mobile phone confiscated if it rings in class. And in the first weeks it's all Occupational Health & Safety which means he is subjected to images of the results of Unsafe Practises. Like footage of a man who got sucked up into a jet engine (he survived almost unscathed apparently) and pictures of an arm that's been electrocuted. How many times do I need to tell you I'm extremely squeamish Mister Fixit before you stop trying to describe these things to me????

Anyway, Fixit is probably at maximum stress this last few weeks, what with quitting the old and starting the new. Not to mention health news - he's been told he has bad cholesterol and high blood sugar (his mother and sister both have Adult Onset Diabetes so this is not good) which means his diet needs a long hard look at itself...

... So the news that the guy who hired him -the only person he's really had as a point of contact at the new job and the one who made the case for taking on all these adult apprentices- was Escorted From The Premises on Wednesday was less than welcome. Turns out the guy was retrenched, which we think is different from being sacked for stealing or whatever, but it still feels like a bit of a worry.

But life goes on, we suppose, and as far as we know the job is secure. In the meantime, we'll be managing our stress by heading beach-wards for a night, while Nell kindly kitten-sits Bertie Wooster for us. Packing up our troubles in our old kit-bag and all that.

Have a Happy Easter, won't you. xx

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Climber-cchino the second

Nell's handmade Arlecchino costume had its second airing at the Carnevale parade at school this morning.

If you look closely at Climber's feet you might see he is wearing his tap shoes. This is because when they were sending out all the newsletter stuff about dressing up for Carnevale they mentioned that there would also be a lunchtime 'open-stage' performance. Which gave me the bright idea of asking Climber and an older boy from his school - who is also one of my tap students - if they wanted to put together a little tap-dance for it. The two of them are pretty good when they work together in my classes and they seemed keen. So they signed up, and we worked out and rehearsed a short routine. This morning when we spoke to the Italian teacher she said the lunchtime thing was cancelled due to lack of takers so instead the interested performers would do their stuff at the morning parade. Then the older boy who'd been progressively more skittery about the whole thing (yes, no, I will, I won't) said he wasn't going to do it and wouldn't put his tap shoes on. He was convinced his friends would laugh at him if he did it - he has a much higher level of peer awareness than my Climber-bunny. He hadn't even dressed up for the parade, such was his anxiety about public embarrassment.

So I went out with Climber instead. (And just for the record I was NOT a Razzle-Dazzle Mum about it. In case you were wondering. I was Moral Support Mum. Swear.)

Anyway, you should have heard the cheers and clapping for Climber when we finished. Awesome.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Happy Harmony Day

Friendship is the only cure for hatred, the only guarantee of peace. (Buddha)
Harmony Day is really meant to be celebrated on March 21st, but this year there was a clash with Good Friday. We are celebrating our diverse culture, and promoting friendship and understanding. Partly by wearing orange clothing. But you know, mostly through education and attitude.

* * *

Do you like the topknot in Cherub's hair? We took him swimming last week and every time he showed us how he could put his head under the water in the deep end (big progress from his alleged dunce-hood) he would then immediately clamber out of the water to sit on the edge of the pool. The first nine times he did it, we just thought it was cute. Then Fixit thought to ask why. It was so he could get his hair out of his eyes. Can you just hear his grandmothers chorusing that I should at least cut the poor kid a fringe?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Yo, Cherub.

On Saturday we did another Kid Tap performance for a school fete. The weather was a mere 29 degrees instead of the 36 - 40 odd we've had for every other day this week, so I suppose we should feel lucky; but cavorting around in the full heat of the midday sun made me drip with sweat, and I am not a highly sweaty person.

Maybe the kids were heat-affected, but 2 of the Dads afterwards said to me the kids could / should have done better. One of those Dads was Fixit. I dunno. I thought the kids were tremendous. And adorable - both when they were getting it right AND when they were getting it wrong. I don't want my dancers to be precision-machine kids with fake smiles, and chests and noses thrust out. I want them to enjoy their dancing. And they're still little. They can barely tie their shoes, some of them, so if they hit a few right steps in their routines and bumble along for the rest, bearing in mind it was hot, and outdoors, then I for one am happy. Plus, not everyone has the same ability for dance and we all have our off-days. I think it makes it all the more special when they all do get something right at the same time.... but then, maybe I'm too soft?

I've loaded a video here because it cracks me up. Obviously The Cherub has been impressed by the stylings of his big brother. In the middle of the littlies' very cute Bumblebee dance he broke out of line on 3 occasions to try his hand at some break-dancing. That's in between hitching up his falling down pants. Talk about Dude Junior.

Full footage here. More photos here.

The other funny moment was in our finale, Louie The Fly. I gave the bigger kids the faux flyspray and the job of exterminating all the little Louies. Of course they made an excellent job of handling the pest control, except that The Climber at the last moment turned the Mortein upon himself and went down in solidarity with all the little flies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fixit's first day

The last day of Mister Fixit's motorcycle-mechanic-career was Friday, and his stupid (ex) work mates are so lame and useless that not only was there no present, there was not even a card. It gets worse. When they went out for his farewell drinks that night Fixit had to pay for his own bloody dinner. Ten fucking years he worked there. Fixit hadn't really noticed until I started carrying on about it, but don't worry, he's as pissed off as I am now.

But onwards and upwards.

He must have passed his medical, although we never heard any more about it. He definitely passed the aptitude test. Did quite well apparently. He told me about it afterwards, the first half was all if x closes at 3pm and y doesn't deliver for 3 days when is the latest you can order parts to receive them by Wednesday? which is, you know, just reading the instructions and working through, I could do that. But the second half was all diagrams of pulleys with different sized round things (technical jargon!!!) and you had to calculate which pulley system would lift faster or whether the lever would turn clockwise or anticlockwise. Which I would completely fail because that sort of stuff makes my brain bleed. Not so Mister Fixit! Just as well he'll be fixing our aircraft and not me.

Anyway, he fronted up to his First Day At His New Work promptly at 7.30am and rang me 15 minutes later saying the guy that hired him wasn't arriving till 8am. A bit later an sms informed me that next week he'll start a 5-week block of schooling! My next message from him was his appraisal of the staff canteen; not complimentary, I'm afraid, as it's the sort of servery that favours fried dim sims and pie'n'chips. And then at 11.30am he was home. The hiring guy had 3 meetings that day and no-one else to look after Fixit, so he sent him home, with the assurance that he'd still be paid for the full day. Which was all good. Except Fixit is very keen to sink his teeth into the new job.

So we went out for lunch.

Later we picked up The Climber from school. We'd got half way back to the car before Climber really took in the abnormality of Fixit's presence, then the penny dropped and he asked How was your first day? Closely followed by Why are you home so early? and Have you been sacked?

Monday, March 10, 2008

A good time was had by all.

The boys are back home, safe and sound. (Even including Fixit who, as if I hadn't worried enough this weekend, decided to take himself for a big motorbike ride this morning. But he made it back from that without running foul of any semi-trailers or stupid motorists.) It's nice to have them all back. And it was just lovely getting the fervent hugs from the boys as they ran in the back door. We missed each other.

I had a super time on my own. Hee!

On Saturday after they left I sprawled on the bed and caught up with the newspaper. I blogged. Then I jumped on Fixit's pushbike - he'd thoughtfully adjusted the seat for me before he left - and cycled gently to the video store to hire the dvd of Little Miss Sunshine. Which I LOVED. Go see it if you haven't. When that gorgeous awkward teenage boy had his melt-down, oh my!!!

I made my own dinner and didn't have to nag anyone about coming to the table now or cajole anyone into taking another mouthful of it. I just enjoyed my spaghetti with fresh pesto, and washed it down with red wine, followed by a cup of tea and some illicitly early mini-Easter Eggs. Shhh. Bertie was a pleasant kittenish companion, pouncing and purring by turns.

When I went to bed I read my book without interruption. I turned out the light when I had had enough and not because anyone else was complaining about the light being on. A bit before midnight, perhaps.

I slept without waking till 9.30 am the next morning. Oh yes.

Cup of tea in bed with the Sunday paper. Some computer time, some laundry. Got all my winter woollens clean and ready for winter - which I guess will be not too long after the heatwave we'll be having this week.

Then, some girly indulgence. An hour or two in the bathroom, washing my hair, fixing up the brows and lashes, singing along to the iPod.

A leetle bit of housework; dishes, sweeping. Thought about mopping, but decided to leave it.

Jumped on Fixit's bike once more and cycled to the local cinema where I saw Juno whilst sipping coffee. LOVED Juno. Laughed, cried. Cried a bucket, actually. Childbirth scenes, you know? So emotional.

Cycled home, feeling great. A few more dishes and just when I was wondering if I did have time to mop, the car pulled up and my boys were calling out for me.

Apparently they had a great time too.

Fixit's idea of unpacking was to bring everything in from the car and dump it on the clear, swept floor. I'll get that, shall I? Climber was complaining long and loud about his trillion mosquito bites and Cherub was inclined to be generally sooky. But it was so good to see them again!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

All By Myself.

For the record, I am an anxious person. I worry about stuff. Every time Fixit goes off on a motorbike jaunt I envisage his death and it's ghastly aftermath. When my relatives fly overseas I picture crashes. Every time I hear about a campus rampage I get twitchy about Climber at his lovely, gentle, peaceful school. It's just the way my brain works. It's why I can't watch any scary movies, ever. The images get burned into my brain and I can't banish them. Has anyone ever seen the chip fryer episode from Season 1 of Spooks? I am still traumatised by that. I won't watch Spooks without Fixit now, he has to be there to tell me when it's safe to open my eyes again.

So although you would think it would be blissful for me to spend a 24-hour period with just me and the too-young-to-be-left-on-his-own-yet kitty, while the boys head to the hills for some Male Bonding and Quality Grandparent Time, you can see how having my sort of brain could interfere with this...

I tell myself to shut up! To relax and enjoy the peace! What a nice break it will be, only needing to look after myself, managing just my meal, playing on the computer as long as I want, watching whatever movie I like, sleeping-in (!!) to my heart's content and only having to answer the the demands of one small hungry kitty.

But then flashes of rogue semi-trailers arrive in my head. As I confessed to Shula during our lovely breakfast blogmeet yesterday, if I lost my 3 boys then I would not be able to go on. And then I would have to work out a way for me not to go on and those ways all sound very unpleasant and messy and scary. You see what a terrible brain I have? But being in Shula's company while my brain was doing nervous twitter stuff was a good thing. She could see the anxiety for what it is, and she neither dismissed it or exacerbated it. We had a very good laugh in fact. Don't mind us a bit of black humour, we don't.

The good news is that now that the first car-trip has been completed in safety (Fixit just rang me) I will be able to relax a bit and enjoy my solitude. I may cycle to the video store for a chick-flick and then whip up fresh pesto for dinner, served with a nice glass of wine. I will definitely take myself out for coffee tomorrow, I may even choose the cinema.

And then I will start to twitch again until they're back home with me, and if you can picture that Dido song about not sleeping till you're home with me playing in the background while you read that last sentence then you're on the same page as me.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


A blog-meet with a difference this week - a blog-visitor from overseas! A group of us met in a cafe in Federation Square and enjoyed a very pleasant brunch.

Seeing as it was Pea Soup organising there was an invitation to bring our knitting. So I did. Which felt pretty cheeky given my novice status; mixing it with clever knitters like this and this and this and this. Anyway I managed a few rows on my purple fluffy hat, and admired the far more complex work of the experts.

It was lovely to meet everyone - the chat was lively and the kids were cute. I had a rare indulgence - pancakes for brunch - and Sueeeus and I chuckled over an unexpected cultural difference : the serving of ice-cream with pancakes. We do it, Americans don't. Sueeeus is off now to meet some Sydney bloggers I asked her to kiss them on the cheek from me.

No photos taken as far as I know which is why I gave you my boys in a box instead. (Climber did ask me how to spell Bertie properly but clearly vagued out halfway through the process.)

Shula and I will be catching up Friday morning ...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I've been..

Getting my new t-shirts ready for sale.

Making props...

...for tomorrow's performance with the Tap Kids.

Watching some balloons fly low as I drove to the chiropractor.

Meeting our new neighbours at their little girl's spooky party.

Now we're off to a family restaurant with our old neighbours.