Sunday, November 30, 2008

All I Want For Christmas

The Climber's Third Ever Letter to Santa:

Letter to Santa_7139

Dear Santa
May I please have a rubix cube, slinky and Any 3 in 1 creator lego set please.
Love from Climber.

(previous letters to Santa from Climber here)

The Cherub's First Ever Letter to Santa

Letter to Santa_7138




(I wrote it out for him to copy. Please note that my template was written in straight lines.)

(Oh, and Santa? Just in case you don't accept letters posted on the internet, we have also sent you a hard copy via Snail Mail. We just sent it to Santa Claus, North Pole. Hope that is okay. We're hoping Australia Post isn't too stringent about the postage costs, we posted 3 letters for the sum total of 95cents, would that cover it do you think?.. )

Posting letters to Santa_7141

Thursday, November 27, 2008

You say potayto and I say potahto

You may have guessed, from my predilection for dance and drama and writing that I'm Humanities Girl. Not Maths / Science Girl. And definitely NOT Engineering Girl. This is not to say that I did not do well at those subjects when they formed part of my curriculum (well engineering was never there but I was pretty good at maths and science. If you don't count calculus and physics, and why would you?) It's just that, given the choice, my interests lie on the arty-farty side of the brain. Whichever one that is, I always forget. Once stuff gets a bit technical I lose a lot of focus. This is why I suspect knitting and I will never be great friends, because if I try to read one of those fancy patterns I immediately feel my brain fuzz over. It's not that I'm dumb, but let's face it, I am more given to creative flights of fancy than technical analysis.

So I don't know why Mister Fixit thinks I want to hear all about the mechanical stuff he did at work. Or TAFE (trade school). I'm starting to dread TAFE weeks to be honest (and not just because poor Fixit gets so angry about the incompetency of pretty much everything or everyone involved in the schooling process - which of course comes home to roost with us, his loving and -mostly- competent family.) No, I dread TAFE weeks because Fixit's method of processing new information is to talk it out. He has to regurgitate in his own words to understand; it's just the way he learns. This has been vaguely annoying, but when the subjects were easy (like say maths, which he already knew, or Human Factors, which is common sense) he didn't feel the need to bang on about it so much. Recently, however, they had to cover Year 11 Physics in the space of 3 weeks and he had a lot to wrap his head around. The upshot of this was that he spent a fortnight trying to teach me physics and I don't want to be mean or anything but : I DON'T WANT TO LEARN PHYSICS!

I acknowledge that it is important and would probably be very helpful in day-to-day life but I already have too many things to think about and..

It makes my brain bleed. Also, the day I decide that Aircraft Mechanical Engineering really IS my cup of tea is the day I sign up for my own apprenticeship, meanwhile I don't really want to learn it second-hand. Call me crazy.

Do people wonder what we see in each other? A typical after-work conversation at our house goes like this:

ME: (sitting quietly doing something absorbing like reading your blogs or playing online scrabble)
FIXIT: (walks past and stops) Oh, you should have seen, at work today we had to dismantlelandinggearstripbackwingtipblahblahblah.
ME: *thinks* can he not see I am busy? Still, better be polite.. Oh right.
FIXIT: It was a prick of a thing. The guy Philip who was the leading hand [inserts a whole lot of information about Philip that I couldn't care less about]
ME: (eyes straying back to computer screen or book or newspaper) Mhm hmm...
FIXIT: Anyway, he got us to pull out the blahblahblah and there was this blahblahblah. (wanting me to understand, because to him stuff like that is Very Interesting and Important to the Anecdote:) You know how a blahblahblah goes blahblahblah?
ME: (sensing an answer is required) *thinks* No Yes.
FIXIT: Well, the blahblah goes into the blahblah like this (demonstrates)
ME: (nods intelligently)
FIXIT: Yeah, so then we had to blahblahblah ad infinitum...

... which goes on to the end of the blahblah while I keep trying to make my eyes look at him and interject appropriately. It usually winds up with me trying to connect the only way I know how, by contextualising it on an emotional level ie Was that annoying? or Gee I bet that was frustrating. Or with him realising my eyes have glazed over and saying good-temperedly I don't know why I bother talking to you! or more snarkily Would you pay more attention if I put a computer screen round my head?

I, of course, never say anything boring to him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reasons to be grumpy.

It's not right -is it? - to come back from a relaxing beach holiday feeling more tired than before you left. I'm convinced part of this exhaustion stems from contemplating (and doing) the mind-boggling amount of laundry generated by the trip: bedding, towels and beach towels for 8 people which I alone am stuck with because my sister had some weak-arsed excuse about not being able to bring huge amounts of manchester on the aeroplane. Hmph.

I was completely convinced that my thyroid medication needed topping up because my metabolism had slowed down and I was putting on weight, but I saw my GP yesterday and the thyroid is perfect. Apparently I have to increase my fibre & fluid intake and cut back on the chocolate consumption. Hmph, pfft.

Also, Climber is having another growth spurt. It's not that I grudge him the massive amount of Weetbix this process requires and God knows I remember how exhausted I felt when I was growing him during pregnancy, but the kid is hard work when he grows. During his last growth spurt poor Cherub could not open his mouth in front of Climber without getting his head bitten off, such was the grump level. The current spurt is less angry but outrageously emotional. To the point that if I hear him crying / yelling / disappearing into his bed my first reaction is What NOW? Don't worry, I hardly ever say that. But I think it. A lot.

Climber runs-11082008-1983

Monday, November 24, 2008

A wedding in Torquay.

dan and rochelle say I Do_0058

As we waited for the bride to arrive we watched a menacing cloud blow across the ocean towards us, and put up our umbrellas. But when it hit, the rain was light and only the cold-blooded (ie. me) shivered in the wind. Then the sun came back out and two sweet souls declared their love and their commitment to each other.

My sister, her partner, her 2 kids and the four of us shared a posh beach house in Torquay, courtesy of our Dad. Four kids (aged 3 - 7) in one room, and somehow they managed to get to sleep. Eventually. The expensive posh house also featured crazy DIY wiring that meant that the switch for the light in the top-floor front bedroom was located at the rear of the house on the ground floor; surprisingly, we didn't find it upon our slightly drunken return from the reception and had to sleep the first night with the light on. (Why don't people pay professionals? I'm still waiting for the apology from the landlord, I said I'd accept wine and chocolate.) My cousin Emma loaned us her very nice and brave boyfriend who did the babysitting for us while we partied on at the reception.

We had a delightful weekend, lots of food, family and fun. All the good pictures are on my sister's camera, she donated her services as her wedding present to the happy couple. I'm hoping to see some of them soon. I left the memory card for my camera in the computer at home and had to limit myself to the 6 shots my internal memory chip can hold. The weather was not really beach-friendly but it seemed mean not to take the kids down to the water so this is them on Sunday morning and by Sunday afternoon they were able to put on their wetsuits and actually play in the water. A bit.

cousins at torquay_0059

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hi I'm A Mac

After years in the PC wilderness I'm back in Mac. Thank the lord. Actually, thank the Nell.

Because Nell knows The Guy.

The Guy (he's her very good friend and I liked him even before he was The Guy, his son learns tap with me) gave her his G4, which she mostly used to stay up all night playing World of Warcraft. As you do. (It's an internetty Dungeons and Dragons game as far as I can work out, I don't really want to know any more than that...) But anyway, then The Guy gave her his G5 and so now *I* have the G4. What a guy. Seriously.

It's taken less than 3 days to get to a level of functionality that I am happy with, (you know emails set up, bookmarks in web browsers etc) and that's been 3 days that included a birthday party, (Cherub's best friend's) the monthly Family Lunch with The Fixits, Mother's Group, Tap Hall spackfiller repairs, 4 classes of tap dancing and the rest of the crap I do like feeding the family. I reckon it took at least 3 weeks with my other computer and a-LOT-and-a-LOT of swearing. This is not just because Macs rock. It is also because Vista really, really, really sucks. So I'm leaving the Evil Empire Computer to the males of Chez Fixit, and I shall blog at you from the comfort of my lovely new Apple. I've nearly got the hang of the X close-box being on the other side (it's like when you drive a European car and keep putting the windscreen wipers on when you want to indicate.) If anyone knows what I should do when the computer underlines a word in red to tell me it is misspelled, I would be grateful if you could share your knowledge with me. On the PC I used to right-click and the spellcheck would give me the correct options, but my days of right-clicking are O-V-A-H.

I leave you with a picture of the Cherub from his Best Friend's Party. Shown here modelling the T-rex face paint and the novelty glasses. I call him the Harrypottersaurus Rex.

harrypottersaurus rex_7091

Thank you Nell and thank you Greg. Mwah.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It ain't easy being green.

green boards & butterflies_7117

The experiment with paving paint for my new tap boards has not been wholly successful, sad to say. The green looks nice and, at Le @ Third On the Right's suggestion, I did in fact end up adding a decorative stencil (pretty butterflies, in silver and purple) which pleased my students, particularly the very small ones, no end. So that was the good part.

But then....

When we first got them into the hall, we found minor bowing had occurred. We couldn't see it when they were arrayed round our backyard but when we laid them down side by side there were a multitude of small ripples - an accident waiting to happen. Fortunately I came armed with gaffer tape which subdued the undulation somewhat and after a few nights of storing them side up they have flattened out nicely. Phew.

Next, I began to realise that paving paint seems not to be any tougher than plain paint and this is rather disappointing, given that added toughness was pretty much the whole point. I've had them for 2 weeks now and the paint is already quite chipped.

Finally, and maybe worst of all, paving paint has turned out to be MUCH MORE SLIPPERY. So much so that it caused a sliding frenzy (where they were doing it on purpose to impress each other) in the Junior Shufflers class and one of its members who shall remain nameless but who is my eldest son put the tip of their tap shoe into the plasterboard and made a nasty whole therein. Hello spackfiller.

tap toe-sized hole_7116

I am still trying to work out the best solution to the whole problem, but in the meantime, and on the advice of a friend who runs a ballet school, I have taken to washing the boards with Ajax (floor detergent) and Coca-cola. I said wouldn't lemonade do? and she said no it has to be coke. So coke it was. I was very afraid that I'd come in the next day to find the boards crawling with ants, but can only assume that blending the detergent with the sugar is what kept the critters away. Anyway, the coke floor was much more effective than the hairspray on the students' tap shoes. Although possibly the fact that I'd inadvertently bought a "non-sticky" hairspray (D'oh) might have unfairly rigged that comparison...

Millie's shoes
Still, the green comes up nicely in the photos.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fete Accompli

The day Bronnie and the kids left was our school fete. It's massive, our school fete. Included amongst the day's activities was some baking by me ...

macadamia hearts_7019

some sliding by Cherub...

cherub on the big slide_7030

...and some climbing by Climber.

climber climbs_7036

Fun for all, and Cherub came home the proud owner of a bloody big toy.

bloody big toy_7055
It was so big in fact that we had to ditch Fixit to get it home in the car. He made it back eventually.

Also, my mates on the clothing stall ensured I went home with the purple designer evening dress (Mariana Hardwick oohlala) for the massive sum of $5. And then when I was in at school yesterday some awesome women (who were much better than me at finding their way round the remaining jumbled up clothing boxes waiting to be shipped off to charity) managed to find a whole swag of cute stuff for my boys. And a nice little pair of summer shorts for me. Now that the shorts have been washed I can show them off at school and tap tomorrow; it's one of my compulsions that new clothes must be worn immediately.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we keep a minute's silence in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.

I mostly spent my minute of silence thinking solemnly and sadly of the sacrifices and suffering caused by war. But as I was in a classroom full of 7-and-8 year-olds who were trying to keep quiet for a whole sixty seconds, I admit that I was, to some degree, stifling rueful laughter. Some of them (my son included) were inspired to join in with trumpety noises during the Last Post, others twitched and wriggled and whispered to their friends. They tried, they sort of know the significance of the moment, but they are so young still, and they can't really grasp it. They spontaneously applauded when the Last Post finished, whereupon their teacher gently informed them that clapping was not appropriate. And they cheered when the announcement went up that they could now go to playlunch. As one of the teachers remarked later to me, it's a very long minute.

These kids can't really fathom the significance of Remembrance Day because they live in a peaceful country in relatively peaceful times. This is something I feel enormously grateful for. I am hopeful that I will never witness my boys pitting their frail and vulnerable flesh against the savagery of man-made weapons, but there are no guarantees, and it could happen any way, any day; in a tall building, on a train, in a bar on the beach. A future free of the barbarity of war is why we do and should commemorate this day and why we keep saying to each other Never Forget.

My grandfather, when he was a lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve. This picture was taken in 1942, with my grandmother and my aunt. He was 31 years old and had been married only 2 years. He survived the war.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Dear Cyber-family, I am missing you but I've been spending time with my blood-family this week. My sister came to photograph the horsies in the Spring Racing Carnival, and brought the cousins with her. And my Mum flew in from Sydney for a few days too, but had to make do with staying with her sister, there was definitely no room at our inn this week. Bron's mob head back to Canberra on Sunday. So I'll catch up with everyone after that. Stomperxx