Monday, July 28, 2008

The Ding and the Hoot.

Not content with fast approaching the big boy age of 5, and exhibiting ten shades of readiness for school next year, the Cherub has also decided to outgrow his little lallow bike.

This, on top of the several in-depth discussions of the where do I come from? variety that I've had this last week with the Climber, in which I've had to admit that sex is nice* and explain -with diagrams- what sperm is (much to the hilarity and disbelief of my friends), means that I am looking for bricks to place gently and lovingly atop my offspring to STOP THEM GROWING UP SO FAST.

Meanwhile, the ever-practical Mister Fixit scrubbed up one of our second-hand bikes, a bigger, red one adorned with T-Rexes and the word SPLAT. Still with the trainer wheels because the Cherub's not grown up that fast. Only to hear the Cherub whine why does my bike NEVER have a ding?

So to the bike shop they went to buy a ding for Cherub's bike. Here 'tis.

Only that ding did not go on Cherub's new splat t-rex bike. Oh no. The splat t-rex bike got a hoot.

This meant that Climber was later found hiding in his bunk-bed, crying his 7-year-old heart out because nobody loved him and he didn't get to have a horn on his bike. Another trip to the bike shop is scheduled for next weekend.

It's possible we're just setting them up for some late-adolescent hooning up Lygon Street in a tricked-up car with a massive stereo in the boot and a stupid air-horn. But at age four-and-three-quarters, Cherub's cheerful little beepy-beep is making me smile.

*He asked me if it hurt. What else could I say?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Not that we're competitive

The crèche my children attended holds a Trivia Night as its annual fundraiser, and my table has always performed pretty well. Well, I say my table because I seemed to be the public face of it, but in fact our success was largely due to the talents of Astrid, the queen of pop culture. We either won, or got edged out to second place by a miserly point. Up until last year that is, when we were crushed to find we'd only come third. To add insult to injury, the people who came second were overheard gloating that it didn't matter that they hadn't won as long as they'd beat Caroline's table. Hmph.

We absolutely couldn't let that lowly third place be our last recorded effort, so despite being ex-creche parents we decided to have another crack at the title. Sadly this year I could only rustle up half a table, with my trivia stalwart buddies Astrid, Nell, Elda and Lucy. But as luck would have it we'd been put with another half-table who had some complementary trivial knowledge to ours. In that they knew serious stuff like the Minister for Water. But once more, the magnificent Astrid steered us home to a stunning victory, shouldering most of the responsibility for our impressive score of 49 out of 50, while the rest of us helped where we could. I know you want to know what we got wrong, everyone else asked, so I'll tell you: it was the speed limit within the Nutbush City Limits. We said there wasn't one.

Anyway, a good night was had by all, the crèche looks set to have raised a record-breaking amount and our reputations were restored. Here we are, the inaugural happy winners of the Carmel Cup.

Hangovers don't hurt as much when you get them on the winning table.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Blahs.

I have to say that this week I'm feeling a bit ... blah. It's not because there is anything wrong in my life. More that I'm worrying about and feeling for some people who I love, who are going through a hard time. My mum is watching her best friend, a wonderful, vibrant, caring, woman, die from a brain tumour. Another good friend is losing her mum to liver cancer. And my sister is going through crap, really bad crap, and any solutions involve pretty major upheavals.


In these situations - where there's not a lot you can do - really you just have to pack up the troubles in the old kitbag and try to look on the bright side etc. In the spirit of this, I remembered that some fellow bloggers recently bestowed awards on my blog.

This award came to me via the exotic and funny Alby Mangroves from Life in General, along with some very complimentary words about my blog which were said at a time when I really appreciated hearing such stuff. As for passing it on, I think I'd like to hand this one to Firstperson, Thirdcat. I do love the way she can do a one or two sentence blog, and still convey so much.

The very funny and wise Tanya the Art Butcher also said nice things when she gave me this just plain fun to read award. I hereby pass this on to Jodie the Crafting Selvedge Queen at Ric-Rac because she is hilarious, especially when she explains how the rest of us needn't even try to be the world's most embarrassing mother because she's got it all sewn up.

Thankyou Tanya and Alby. You made me feel better.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In defence of Mothers' Groups.

The other day I flicked through one of those free street mags; I've since thrown it out but from memory I think it was called Melbourne Mother. The magazine was targeted at well-off, middle class families and featured the usual stuff: ads for kids parties, articles on how to feed your toddlers etc. And even while I know that the journalistic content of such a magazine is padding for and subject to the advertisements they're selling within, and as such should not be treated as proper journalism, still I let myself be riled by the lead article.

It was to do with Mothers' Groups.

Now I don't know if you do this overseas, but in Australia the hospital where you give birth sends your details to the nurse at the local Maternal and Child Health Centre, and he or she puts you in a group with other new mothers in the local area. You start by attending a few information sessions (First Aid, settling techniques etc) but after 6 weeks they cut you loose from the MCHC and if you wish you can keep meeting up with each other, as a support network and/or friendship group . And a great many mothers DO choose to keep up the group. It means that new mothers have a chance to forge friendships for themselves and their babies, and is, as far as I'm concerned, a really great idea.

mid 2001; can you pick the baby Climber?

The article was a variation on one I've seen many times in various mother-based literature, and centred on the so-called awfulness of Mothers' Groups. It featured horror stories from anonymous women about how they had to leave their Mother's Groups because of the hideous levels of bitchiness and competitiveness. Look, I'm not saying this never happens. But I am pretty sick of seeing this article dished up as the only story about Mothers' Groups. I think people love to jump on the bandwagon of the bitchy woman, the competitive mother, the persecuted outsider. Personally I would like to see the other side represented occasionally; the story of how your Mothers' Group was an important part of your life as a new mother and an integral part of making you feel part of parenting community. Having a baby can make you feel isolated. A Mothers' Group can help bring you in. Even if you don't like everyone.

I have two beefs with the Awfulness of the Mothers' Group Story. The first is that I think bad experiences in this area probably have a lot more to do with group dynamics as opposed to mother dynamics. I think about the various groups I've been part of (or outside of as the case may be), and struggle to recall a group where everyone got on. I think that in any group, be it work-based, friendship-based or shared-interest-based, there will probably be at least one person at odds with another. Indeed, there will often be a person within a group who becomes the catalyst for bonding the rest of the group, because everyone unites in their dislike of that one person. I'm not saying this is a good thing, and when you are the one everyone dislikes, it's pretty horrible. But I don't think Mothers' Groups are the sole offenders. I've seen stories like the Melbourne Mother's article argue that a Mothers' Group is more likely to bring up bad group behaviour because the only thing you might have in common is that you dispensed your babies at the same time, but really, how is that not true for a group of people who all happen to work at the same cafe or all had the yen to learn a language? (And on the flip-side, being suddenly in charge of a helpless, demanding, non-verbal bundle of baby IS quite unifying when you think about it.)

My second beef is that the breathless recounting of those mean, competitive Mothers' Group stories seem to extinguish the many wonderful experiences that I and many other mothers have had. In my Mothers' Group, we have laughed, cried, complained, comforted, talked about serious and frivolous issues, discussed fashions for big people and small, exchanged recipes, taught each other skills, held each other's children when a toilet break was needed, passed round tips and clothing and toys and books, explored Melbourne's child-friendly attractions and spent many companionable hours over a cup of tea, some sugary nibbles and the cacophony of our children. I've got to know their children and they mine. They are there for me when I need them. And I've needed them. We are a smaller group than in our early days, as members went back to work or moved away or lost interest. That's the way it goes. But I am so glad I have these families in my life. Motherhood would have been a less happy experience for me if I hadn't had my Mothers' Group. And I think those articles should sometimes say stuff like that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

They had it coming.

I suppose every family has a couple of things to which they expose their impressionable offspring at a less than appropriate age. Currently, my children are:
  • walking around saying how YOU doin'? a'la Joey Tribiani from Friends
  • watching the Cell Block Tango from the Chicago dvd over and over and over again. All those scantily clad hot jailbirds singing about murder. My small sons can't get enough. Mummy can we watch that one where the girls in jail killed those men? Next they'll be trying out the dance moves.
Has your family got some?

Meantime I am living on the edge, without virus protection!! Whilst the good folk at AVG try and work out why their software sucks on my computer. And I tried posting another thumb-typing blog via the mobile phone but it's disappeared, probably went to Mars by mistake. I hope it comes back soon but I can't be arsed typing it again, let alone thumb-typing it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Phone Blog

I upgraded my anti-virus. I thought I'd do the right thing and get the proper paid version, seeing as how I actually have some money and the good guys at AVG have been letting me use a perfectly adequate free version for years. But something happened when I loaded it and now I can't access the internet. Except by phone. It'll be a firewall thing, I'm still getting emails. Meanwhile I'm waiting for the dudes at AVG to get back to me, and I gotta tell you, I feel somewhat ... alone. I don't know what's going on out there and I don't like that. So after you've read this, PLEASE. LEAVE ME A COMMENT! Just so I know I still exist. And give me the goss. Please. I had to type this with my thumb, you know.

Cherub watched Shrek. Then he came into the lounge and played Lego while I was watching The Winslow Boy. And the film mentioned weddings. And Cherub got a slightly hard-done-by pout on his face and asked "When are WE getting married?" and I was confused and asked if he meant when HE was getting married. And he said "No, all of us, you, me, Climber and Daddy. When are we getting married?"

And I said "Ask your father."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

School Holiday Update

Climber did NOT enjoy the 2-day soccer clinic.

(Came home near tears both days. I suspect the coach, whilst very sweet and no doubt skilful with a soccer ball, was lacking in the crowd control department)

Both boys DID enjoy the one hour Gymnastics Skill workshop at the local Neighbourhood House.

(Cherub gave every indication beforehand that he would prefer to sit on the sidelines with me and some toys - technically he's not quite old enough to join in - but when he saw the group was small and the other kids were a non-threatening size - Climber was far and away the biggest kid there - he agreed to give it a shot and ended up smiling through the whole thing.

We ALL enjoyed getting our haircut this afternoon.

(I snuck in a fringe trim for myself after the boys' appointment. It was dangling in my eyes in a truly annoying and most unbecoming way)

Monday, July 07, 2008

A waste of good Ylang Ylang.

The plan was to return from our trip to Daylesford all serene and happy, so that the ensuing two weeks of school holidays would be as pleasant as possible for everyone. And up until the minute I walked through my front door to hungry children whose father (a) was still at the pub (he turned up 5 minutes after I did) despite airy, reassuring sms-es that led me to expect the opposite and (b) had not left any dinner instructions with Nell-the-kind-babysitter, the plan was going well. And it's possible that if Fixit had managed to apologise then my anger would have blown over. But he is not good at apologising so this did not happen, and I was angry for nearly a week. Which was a bit of a bummer. And I never got to tell him about the super bath and massage I had, or the lovely meals, or what a great relaxing time I had with the girls. Because I was too cross to even look at him.

Meantime the school holidays ploughed on, and prolonged sulking on my part aside, they have, on the whole, been very nice. I've been having sleep-ins because the kids are of an age where they can quietly self-amuse for fairly long periods of time if Fixit has made the breakfasts & switched on the pixel nanny.

We have played with Bertie Wooster, who is now allowed outdoors and has become a much nicer cat because of it. It also means that it is much easier to have people visit us, as we are no longer shouting shut the door!!! every time someone goes into the backyard.

We have played with lots of our friends, including these ones:

The boys have played with Lego. A lot. In fact, they've even had organised Lego play; here is a picture of Cherub attending his first ever Lego Workshop. (His veteran big brother had disappeared off to the toilet when I took the photo)

I've had a rest from teaching Saturday morning Kiddie Tap Classes because I was feeling burnt out. But I took a long drive out to Cranbourne on Friday to do a special teenage holiday program workshop in the company of fellow Tap-pet, the lovely Miss Kaye, and a good time was had by all. And I wish everyone paid artists as well as that council does. And I also wish that I had better photos.

Finally, today, after a pleasant but tiring weekend on my own with the boys because Fixit had to work both days, I am having a bit of peace and quiet. The Climber is at Soccer Clinic and I cleverly put the Cherub into the holiday program at his Kinder.

And seeing as I have finally come off my high-horse, (but am still very much on the moral high-ground) I thought I'd blog.