Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dear Nell

How is the Yorkshire sojourn progressing? Have you done your day-trip to Paris yet? And how was the flight, did the patches work?

We are all pretty well, but Cherub is missing you. Well, both boys are, but 'specially Cherub. Yesterday at tap he was playing out the front with Sophie (ie. unsupervised!! You know what I'm saying here...) and the dropstick on the gate dropped onto his thumb and really hurt him, his poor little thumb was so bruised, and he came in crying while I was in the middle of teaching class. I could only give him a really quick cuddle and Astrid offered to look after him but eventually he just sat in your chair, crying and waiting for me to finish teaching. We iced it later and we think it's okay. Plus he had a "large local reaction" to his immunisation and got a lump 6cm x 6cm on his wee shoulder, (which also required regular ice-ing) so the poor kid has been in the wars.

large local reaction_6437

As for the big brother he's had a scooter mishap and bumped his head on the monkey bars, so I don't know what's going on this weekend - the frozen peas have been in and out of the freezer like never before.

Climber on the train

The tap parents have been really good and have remembered to bring the correct money, and the stamp-n-sticker stuff has been mostly manageable. It was Climber's last week of soccer this week (they gave him a trophy and a certificate and a soccer ball), so if you're too jet-lagged to come to tap next week at least I'll have Fixit to help me out.

I went on a blog-meet last night because M from Eastern Max is in Melbourne for the Writer's Festival. We met in a Richmond cafe with Fairlie, H&B, Pea Soup and Frogdancer. We had a really good time, those girls are very funny and made me laugh a lot. They wanted to know about you so I was telling them about how we met through me working with the band and you being good mates with our travel agent. No pictures, sorry, we were too busy talking.

Today we had a family adventure at the Hurstbridge Wattle Festival and got to ride on a steam train. Excellent fun, and you should have seen how many people were waiting by the train tracks, waving as we clickety-clacked past. Climber said he felt like he was going to Hogwarts. There was something a bit fantastic about seeing the clouds of steam outside the carriages, and when the whistle blew it was just .. exciting, you could picture how much kids must have loved those trains in the olden days.

on the train285

Anyway, we all hope you're having a lovely time but we look forward to your return.

Cherub on the train317

Love from the Stay-at-homes xxxx

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The 4-year-old Immunisation

I'm absolutely pro-immunisation, but it doesn't mean it's ever easy to do; - gently restraining your child while someone jabs an ouchy needle into the little fat arm. Lucky for me both my kids are fairly laid-back individuals and immunisation sessions have never been too traumatic. Obviously I get tears in my eyes each time, but that's just because I'm a sook. My boys are pretty stoic.

Cherub was all primed with explanations of what was coming up and a bag of gold-wrapped chocolate 'moneys' for afterwards, plus a $5 knock-off Spiderman race-car set from the $2-Shop (not to be opened till afterwards either!!), because he was still looking dubious when I explained the needle malarkey to him. What can I say, I'm soft. So the first needle was a doddle and only elicited a small ow. The nice nurse had already given him a lollipop bribe of her own and had him sucking on it while she administered the needles. The second needle hurt a bit more and the ouch was much more indignant this time and was accompanied by a raised small hand intent on removing the nasty needle - his gentle restrainer (me) clearly falling down on her duties. Then it was all over and the Spiderman cars were let out of the box and I thanked my lucky stars that he hadn't freaked out like another little boy there who screamed and cried in fear and beseeched his poor father Please, no more which broke the hearts of all adults present.

After the needle_6429
And now my baby, he's all dosed up; no more needles (touch wood) required, and another parenting milestone / rite of passage behind me. Just the little government payout for having him fully immunised to look forward to now.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Confession

Here's an excerpt from a little book I wrote for the Climber when he was 4. I thought I'd share it with you in case you were unsure of why the Tooth Fairy has been collecting teeth from little children all these years. We're picking up the action here after the Climber's tooth had fallen out and the blood made him feel like crying and his father had been unable to satisfactorily explain why the Climber needed to part with his pearly white and he'd gone to bed with the tooth under the pillow only to be woken by a fairy trying to shift his head out of the way. Thus.





Now for my confession:

I didn't give all the Climber's baby teeth to the Tooth Fairy.

Even though I know she needs them, and there could be a fairy dust crisis out there for all I know. But I just wanted to keep a couple. I don't know why. I don't even know what I'm going to do with them.

In fact, so far all I have done with them is hide them in my junky kitchen cupboard, up high (as if that could ever be fool-proof in our house with my children) in the same place as we often keep ... lollies.

So guess what? Climber came into the bathroom as I was about to step into my shower, and, with an air of one determined to make a clean breast of it, he announced that he knew the tooth fairy wasn't real. I stood there reeling for a minute and then, in this order, but with lengthy pauses in between as I tried to work out what to say next, I said:

How do you know? (I found my teeth and a note in a cupboard).
Were you looking for lollies? (Yes)
Bad. (I'm sorry)
You mustn't tell the Cherub. (I already have...why?)
Well, because...err..umm .. he's only little, hasn't even lost a tooth yet...

... and finally, finally I stammered about how I hadn't wanted to give them all away because I just wanted to keep some for myself.




And like a weight had been thrown from his shoulders, he stopped looking so worried and cheerfully dashed out to the tell the Cherub that she does exist and Mummy had just kept a few teeth.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Professional Pirate

We had Climber's Grade 1-2 school concert yesterday. Cherub and I went to the matinee together (Dark, he said loudly as soon as the lights went down). In the evening I went off to teach, Crafty came over to babysit, Climber got taken to the theatre by another parent and Fixit walked to the theatre where he met up with a friend; the complications of being a one-car family when one of us works nights. We got the spare ticket for Nell originally but she has just left for a 3-week jaunt to Yorkshire, half her luck.

The overall concert theme was Songs of the Sea. Our teacher's nautical choice was pirates. Arrrrr.

Professional Pirate

A goodly chunk of Climber's costume came from my everyday wardrobe, being as I am a fan of stripes. He looked askance at the frilly shirt until reassured of its piratical-ness. The thing is, he's seen me wear it and I don't look at ALL pirate-y in it. Wench-y, yes. Pirate-y, most definitely not. As for the jewelled belt, that came from some 80s skirt, long gone, and remains in my costume drawer as a memento of how small my waist was back in those days...

The songs they performed were from The Muppets Treasure Island. I helped out with the choreography on the Professional Pirate song. I had the class work in pairs, one as the 'professional' pirate and the other as their apprentice. I asked for the learner pirates to wear L-plates like a learner driver does and their teacher delighted me by making them with a piratical font. Of course the ratbag forgot his. But apart from that he was great. They all were.

As for The Climber, bless his little stripey socks. He rocked. With his bandanna almost covering his eyes and his socks fallen down to his ankles. Sang, dance and acted his little heart out. So much so that at the end after the rousing finish which concluded with them all having their arms raised, he kept his up while the applause rang round and every one else in the class had dropped theirs and were standing or wandering around looking vaguely lost. Just my Climber, arms straight and strong, holding his final pose. And holding. Thus...

video

Afterwards, Cherub and I waited at the stage door to greet the star. Once more, his little brother was his biggest fan.

Biggest fan

Friday, August 15, 2008

Non sequiturs

I don't think I want to give my Dad's Nikon D60 back. Loving the photos it takes.

Brothers

I think I bring the Australian team bad luck when I watch a live Olympic event, I'm going to have to stop.

Climber's sex education is continuing apace. Yesterday's car-conversation (aka things I really don't want to discuss whilst concentrating on peak hour traffic) introduced the subject of h0m0sexuality. Just the concept, no questions yet about the mechanics, THANK HEAVENS. He must be saving that for next week. I blame pop songs for this, he's always listening intently to lyrics and then asking what does this song mean? The culprit in this case was Billy Bragg's Sexuality. I may have to re-program my ipod with purely instrumental music at this rate.

I got the kindergarten telephone photo.

kindergarten telephone shot_0197

My friend's mother died last week, it is just so sad.

Fixit is working ten hour days at the moment. There's a lot of aircraft maintenance stuff going on, even if you don't work for Qantas. He's very tired.

Climber is wise to the toothbrush arrangement, and in an uncharacteristic fit of temper caused by tiredness from 2 weeks of school swimming, he became so cranky at the Cherub (who foolishly raised his toothbrush higher whilst the Climber was present) that he ripped Cherub's holder from the wall and flung it so hard that it broke and landed in the toilet.

When I looked at my Flickr sets I saw I had 153 shots of the Cherub to only 94 of the Climber, so I thought I'd upload some more Climber to even it up. Now it's Cherub:163 to Climber:101. Not because I don't love them equally. I just see more of the Cherub because of school.

walking the bar

Both my neighbours are pregnant.

Climber's best friend at school has been away all week and Climber is missing him. But he is also taking the opportunity to hang out with some of his favourite girls because he's in the midst of deciding which one should be his girlfriend. It's so confusing - he likes so many of them. Meanwhile every other boy in the class (practically) thinks that girls are poison. At swimming class I saw 7 little boys in a swimming lane move as one, shrinking to one side of the lane with disgust when a girl had to join their class. She just ignored them, stupid boys.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cherub vs Bertie Wooster

The Cherub bounced out of bed when he heard me get up this morning, happy and chatty. Straight away, he launched into his adventures from last night:

Last night, in the middle of the night, Bertie was sleeping in the middle of my pillow so I hadded to frow him off. Because it was uncomp'table.

Clearly he thinks he sorted that pillow-hogging cat out.

cat on a fence

But at some point last night I think Bertie Wooster evened the score...

when the cat got the cherub_0159

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Today...

Today I had to get new tyres for the Corolla. They quoted an hour to do it when we rang and booked, they quoted an hour and a half when I dropped the car off, they returned the car to me after 2 and half hours and that was my morning gone.

Today I went to Climber's school to help his class with their Grade 1&2 Concert dance number. I spent as much time trying to get them to shut up and listen as I did imparting my dance expertise. I much prefer teaching MY lovely tap classes, none of my students wrestle each other in between steps. Or whine, or talk all the time, or hide under tables. Also, poor Climber had his perfectly nice first partner replaced through no fault of his own and is now stuck with the class ratbag, so he's finding it almost impossible to focus on the song and dance routine because the ratbag is pulling, wrestling, talking, distracting the whole time. The Stage Mother in me is Not Happy.

ratbag elbow_0126
(that's the ratbag's elbow, it looks innocent enough there)


Today I tried to take photos of the Cherub at kindergarten using my Dad's nice DSLR because the chick who did the official kinder photos this year only took head-shots of Cherub - quite lovely head-shots, I hasten to add - but I didn't get a single one that gave me a sense of him being at kinder. I wanted sandpit action. And possibly one of him talking into a toy telephone. You know the sort of thing. I did get some shots, but it was raining on us and I was pushed for time because of the school dance helping and the stupid car tyres so it all made me feel more hassled.

sandpit_0133

So today I made chocolate cake.

It seemed the only thing to do.

Today I learned I should not eat chocolate cake just before I go out to teach tap. It gives me a stomach ache.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Corollas are slightly cool

After watching several episodes of Top Gear and listening to Jeremy Clarkson espouse the coolness of Aston Martins and Zondas, Climber began to question us: Toyotas are quite cool, aren't they? Umm, no sorry sweetie. But Toyota Corollas like ours, they're a bit cool? I'm regretful and Fixit is chortling. Nay, scoffing. No sweetie, sorry, definitely not. It's a really good car for getting a tricky carpark, it's reliable and easy to drive, but erm .. no darling, not cool. Climber takes it quite well. Like me, he has an emotional attachment to good old Claude Corolla and has been known to get a bit tearful at the prospect of selling it for a station-wagon (still on our to-do list) so maybe he doesn't really believe us. Deep down, I'm not actually convinced that I believe us, because I thought my car was way cool when I first bought it and not just because it had an FBI licence plate. I mean, look, is that the face of a chick who's just brought home an uncool car? I think not. Ten years later, my opinion hasn't changed that much. Climber may have picked up on this, the fact that I don't care what Clarkson thinks. Or Fixit, come to that.

Being cool, it's so subjective. I didn't think that I was at all cool in high school - too scrawny, too fair-skinned, too red-headed, and a teacher's pet and A-grade student to boot. But then, I know my stocks went up after each performance in the school plays, so maybe I was cooler than I thought. These days I think why on earth would I care whether the bogans at my high school thought I was cool, what sort of recommendation would that be? See? Subjective. I'm at peace with my personal level of coolth these days. To some people I might look a bit cool, to others I'm a hopeless loser. What can you do? I yam what I yam. I'm pretty happy in my own skin these days, I generally like where my life is at, and only fear the derision of others once a month when the hormones take over.

At a time when I might have been expected to abandon pretensions to coolness because cool is for the young and hip, the whole issue is cropping up again. At least this time I'm not a hormonal teenager wondering if I'll ever get a boyfriend and having meltdowns because I'm wearing the wrong style of trousers to school. This time, I'm a mother to a boy who is beginning to grapple with the whole concept and this means I can just observe it, I don't have to live it. Also, my cool stakes, as far as the Climber is concerned, are just about as good as they'll ever be. He's still young enough to think Fixit and I are the duck's guts, doesn't really matter what we do.

Pyjama B0y_6399

Climber likes the concept of cool. And popularity, too. He is starting to aspire to coolness. Actually, I think (in my objective and unbiased way) that Climber is already quite the cool dude, with his shaggy blonde good looks and his laid back charm, and the way he carries off a size 4 teddy-bear dressing gown in Grade 2 on Pyjama Day. But he is just starting to sort all this out for himself. Thankfully, the fact that he now knows there is such a thing as being cool (and therefore also uncool) has not wrought any actual changes in him; he does not modify his appearance or his behaviour or his belongings in any way to improve his popularity or his image, unlike some of his peers. He's just thinking about it all. He is still young enough to adore his parents and does not see us as embarrassments and potential life ruiners. He knows I have a tap website and a blog, and that people visit and comment on my blog and he says you're quite popular, aren't you? with this look, almost pride in his eyes. I suspect he confuses web presence with, say, being in the newspaper or on television, but meantime, take heart you cool and popular bloggers, you! And let's see if he still thinks my blog is cool in seven years time, when I start telling the world about his teenage love life.

Recently, we had the Climber's best friend from school over, and when he went home he told his mother that he wanted to live at our place because it was so cool. His poor mother started to get a bit miffed after a while and told me she'd resorted to painting me as a very mean parental figure indeed to burst his bubble: Caroline's very strict, you know! And you'd never get to drink lemonade there! He weighed it up and announced that he was prepared to give up lemonade if only he could live at Climber's house. I don't take credit for the perceived coolness at our place, I know in his eyes it is due to Climber's presence and Climber's toys. Our house could never pass for cool in a grown-up's eye. It is a scruffy rental, full of flaws. We have second-hand, mismatched furniture which could never be gussied up for a style feature, not even one that advocated scruffy, mismatched décor. Our storage solutions are hopeless and bursting at the seams and I am a reluctant housewife, our walls are covered in laminated artworks by the children and alphabet charts. But Climber's friend loved it here, and now his mother is wondering what's wrong with her house. (Nothing, it's lovely, I've checked.)

So there you go. Cool: it's all in the eyes of the beholder. Just when I was starting to feel old and irrelevant, along came a couple of 7 year-old boys to make me think I'm really ace. And as for poor uncool Claude Corolla, don't you go listening to the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, because the Cherub announced this week he is going to give the new splat t-rex bike a name. He's calling it Toyota.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Toothbrush Arrangement

toothbrush heads_6400

Nell gave these.. erm.. toothbrush head cover suction hangers (!) to the boys last Christmas. (It's a shame we don't have nicer bathroom tiles to hang them on. Our landlord does all the renovations himself)

Climber is vague and forgetful about returning his toothbrush to the headpiece but Cherub never forgets. He says I always remember to put mine away and the inference is clear: he is good and the Climber is not. It drives the poor Climber nuts.

Climber doesn't know it, but the Cherub has a stealthy regime going on with the arrangement of those toothbrushes. He always puts his own higher. A little victory for the smaller, younger child.

Monday, August 04, 2008

We Ain't Never Gonna Be Re-spec-ta-bul

My social life currently comprises attending fund-raising events and ... no that's it, that's all I do. This weekend was Cherub's Kinder's turn. It was an auction dinner, you know, where you go round scoring freebies from local traders AND donate as much as they can get out of you personally, then you turn up on the night to buy it all back. It was held at a fairly daggy reception centre with the worst chandelier ever and pretty 'orrible food. And of course being a function, we had no choice about the meal that landed in front of us. I got lasagne. Reception centre lasagne. Not what I wanted and not particularly nice, but the wine was free and we were served meals more than 2 hours later than I normally eat, so I shut up and ate up. And drank the free wine. Well, I say free. You had to pay $50 for drinks and dinner. Which is why I went with my friend Trish and Fixit stayed home with the kids.

The evening had an 80's theme and you could dress up if you wanted. Of course I wanted to. As did quite a few others. There was a very good Madonna, a chick in a hot-pink leotard and a high side ponytail, lots of floppy scarves tied on top of the head, someone wore a bright orange corporate shoulder-padded jacket, one of the blokes wore eye-liner. Good fun. And when the auction stuff was over there was lots of 80's music that enticed a surprising amount of people up to shake their booties.

Nell did my make-up, and did not forget to give me hideous 80's blusher. Fixit grimaced at me before I left and told me I had no chance of picking up. He said my arse looked too long in the high-waisted trousers. I said in the 80's everyone liked long arses, but he didn't look convinced.

I was aiming for Mel and Kim :


but as person after person came up to smile at me and comment on the great hat I realised I'd actually achieved Boy George:



Anyway, do you remember about all the free wine I drank to compensate for getting lasagne? Well, in true 80's flashback, when I got home I lay in bed with the room revolving around me and then realised I needed to drive the porcelain bus. As in throw up in the toilet. Then I felt much better and slept like a log. I wanted to do things the next morning so I got up and showered and washed the kilogram of gel out of my hair. But not long after that I was back in bed with a bucket and there I stayed all day, much to Fixit's annoyance (he has a test today and wanted to study not mind kids). Man, I was miserable. The sad thing is that in the 80s I knew I couldn't hold my liquor, and drank fairly sensibly. Even more sad is that I really only had between 4 and 5 glasses of wine the whole night, a 5 hour evening that included eating and dancing. Pathetic!

I feel old and pathetic today but at least I am no longer nauseous. And it just goes to show, you can't go back. The mind is willing but the flesh is a wimp.