Sunday, January 27, 2008

News from the front

In the school holiday battle for household supremacy, let it be hereby recorded that the children have categorically and undeniably won. Battlefield clean-up is scheduled for the day school begins and will be undertaken by the defeated army, ie, me. Offerings are being made to the weather-gods so they do not smite me with a heat wave until normality is resumed. Meanwhile, a warning to all who try to enter the battle-zone: please tread carefully lest a piece of lego become embedded in your foot or you go arse over elbow when treading on a small train. Clean clothes can be found in one of the baskets of washing lying scattered round the house. Consider yourselves lucky that there is food in the cupboards and meals on the table. Oh, and that I managed a cake for the Climber's low-rent birthday gathering in the park tomorrow morning. (Calling it a 'party' would be too ambitious .)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Roller Girl

If I had my own studio or if I taught jazz, hip-hop or belly-dancing, I would not have been out in the hot sticky weather this week getting black paint on my clothes and blisters on my hands. The thing about tap is that you can't just set up shop anywhere. For a start, savvy venue hirers won't take you because they have some idea of the possible damage. Plus you need a particular surface to work on. Carpet, for example, is no good. The venue I hire has lino [linoleum flooring] which was just okay for sound but not proof against scratches and dings (occupational hazard), much less long slides. So I bring my own floor. I started with 16 boards, but with bigger classes I now need 28. That's a lot of painting. I was even inspired to mess around with a stencil to pretty them up a bit.

Now I need to get cracking on some choreography. Yep, tap starts back this week, and I'm nearly ready....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

This Boy is Seven

He loves lego and has crazy-boy-hair in the mornings.
He is an excellently good big brother.

He has lots of mates at school but his real friends will be the ones coming for cake in the park over the weekend. And his soul-mate came over today to help him build the birthday lego.

He writes notes all the time. If he's thinking it, he needs to write it.

He immerses himself whole-heartedly in games of the imagination - whether he's in public or not. He can dance. And what's more, he does. With those long lanky legs of his.

He is so very loving and affectionate.

He sees the cat on the window sill and decides he might like to sit up there too.

He is terrific, exactly what we wanted, and getting better every day. Happy birthday!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cinderella and the Fairy House-Cleaner

I've had a plan in my head for a good few months now. A housework plan. It's Plan B. Plan A was when I bought this book and thought I could keep the place sweet by doing 15 minutes a day, but it turned out that I prefer to have one really good bang at it and get it over and done with. In one hit rather than making house-cleaning some kind of never-ending treadmill, every day of my life - on top of all the cooking and tidying and laundry and shopping as well. However. Those big cleaning blitzes? They've gradually become further and further apart as I've progressively lost interest in cleaning. I like living in a clean house but I resent actually doing the cleaning.

Anyway. Plan B was me thinking that I could use some of the money I make from teaching tap to pay a cleaning lady once a fortnight. Classes are going well and business is expanding and paying someone for 2 hours a fortnight would probably not cost more than, say, Fixit buying 2 coffees a day. Which he does.

I've pondered it of course. Mostly in a wouldn't it be fantastic to not have to clean the toilet? sort of way, admittedly. But also in a can I justify this when (i) I am a stay-at-home mother so if I were to use my time efficiently I wouldn't need to do this and (ii) this is a luxury and we aren't really in a financial position to bear luxuries and (iii) I would probably object if Fixit suddenly decided he wanted to outsource the lawn-mowing.

I answered myself with this sort of stuff:
...staying at home is about looking after the kids, not about cleaning the house. No-one needed to Stay Home and Do Cleaning before we had the babies. Before Children the cleaning was seen as something we both did. Now, even though I'm child-wrangling, volunteering at both Climber's school and Cherub's crèche, teaching 9 classes of tap a week and doing the admin involved with having my own business, doing ALL the cooking, doing ALL the grocery shopping and 80% of the laundry, even with all of that, somehow the house-cleaning falls in my To-Be-Done tray. Despite the fact that the labour involved has trebled since the advent of kids into the domestic scene. Not to mention the mound of stuff jibbering away behind the door of the Spare Room, which should be sorted; there's this tone Fixit gets when he mentions this which stems from his space (the shed) being organised to within an inch of its life and my space (the house) being a whole lot of cardboard boxes filled with god-knows-what stacked up in a darkened room with a pretty cloth thrown over the top. (Oh and also his conviction that blogging has taken over my life to the detriment of the household but that's a separate issue.)

To be honest, in answer to my doubts (i) yes, I could get it all done if I lifted my game (ii) yes, luxuries are out if we ever want to think about getting a mortgage and (iii) yes, I probably would think Fixit was frittering away Our Money if he hired Jim's Mowing.

But. My little dream persists. For all sorts of reasons.
  • It's my money, after all. (Unlike the grass-cutting money which would be our money.)
  • Business is looking up.
  • I'm domestically lazy.
  • I prefer doing stuff like reading or blogging to cleaning.
  • With the Family Allowance and my tap earnings, I pay for all household expenses and extras, so I'm putting in financially and domestically.
  • Even if we cut out all luxuries, we probably still couldn't get a mortgage in the current housing crisis in Australia.
  • If kitty-cats and motorbikes are okay then why not this?
  • I would -theoretically- have more energy to look at the junk in the back room.
  • I would be happier.
  • The house would be nicer.
As you can see, I've talked myself into it. It all sounds perfectly fair to me. And then on the car-trip to Canberra I blithely announced my intentions to Fixit, thinking he would be pleased to know that the house would be regularly nice again and that I would be happier with more time to sort out crap etc., and I am sorry to report that I received a Very Negative Response. You know, based along the lines of (i) (ii) and (iii). (That always makes it worse, doesn't it, when you know the other person's objections are grounded in truths?) But I was so gobsmacked and so angry that my stomach started burning from just ... acid.... and even if we hadn't been in a confined space with the kids I don't think I could have coherently argued my corner. So I spluttered a bit and didn't mention it again.

So we were at a bit of an impasse, and, true to form, neither of us was bringing it up to discuss it. You could be forgiven for wondering who would emerge happy from this lack of seeing-eye-to-eyeness ?

Well, as far as I'm concerned, Plan B is alive and well. I got the number of the cleaning lady today so if I was a horse the knowing ones would be backing me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Drones Club

Nell came over to meet our new kitty.

Oops. Silly, that isn't Bertie Wooster. Here he is.

Of course she also came over to see The Cherub...

...and The Climber too.

Oh sorry. I meant this Climber.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What ho.

Meet Bertie Wooster, Bertie for short.
He is a 12-week old chocolate Burmese, purchased from a breeder in Seymour. He's been here exactly one day, and he is quite at home and we are all besotted.
Even though a pet is for life not just for Christmas, he is a Christmas present (from Fixit to me). It's been 6 years since my last cat crept quietly away under our neighbour's house to die. That was when we lived somewhere else and Climber was a crawling bundle of baby, and then we moved here and had Cherub and for a while there a pet would have been beyond our means and our energy. Now though, we need a pet. 'Specially Climber.It is so nice to have that little purring bundle of fur to cuddle; when we are not being entertained by his kittenish scampering antics, of course.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Shopping on the interweb.

In exciting news, I made my first ever foray onto ebay this last week, with good results. In fact I was the only bidder on the item I wanted so I won! I've held off for a long time because it looked to me that shopping on ebay could be mighty addictive, but when your 4-year-old tells you that that what he desires most in life is a Thomas the Tank Engine turntable, it seems sensible to at least have a little look...

Of course it was very exciting when the clock ticked down and we'd found we'd won. Climber, Nell, Fixit and I were all smiles, but they were as nothing to the Cherub's face when the parcel arrived in the mail later that week. Earlier this month he had informed me seriously, as he examined the picture on the side of a cardboard box that had once housed James (an engine from the Thomas the Tank series) and which featured other items available, that I fink I need more pwesents. Christmas can do this to a young boy.

The downside of our exciting win is that we are now unable to walk through our family room. And Cherub gets quite stern with us if we interfere with the track at, say, dinnertime, when access to the table is required. I don't like it when you break my track, he says. So don't do it.

In other on-line purchasing news, here is Nell modelling her Christmas present from us, a bracelet from etsy made from vintage typewriter keys. I also found her an "N" pendant from the same shop, which is my way of trying to help her work through her childhood misery at having a name that was NEVER used on keytags, drinkbottles, nameplates for your door etc. (And if anyone ever finds some crappy merchandise emblazoned with *Nell* please let me know!!)

But wait, there's more! Another online purchase; ostensibly for the Climber who has been taking an intense interest in my Facebook scrabble battle with Sussanah, but actually utilised 95% of the time by an unhealthily obsessed me. The benefit of having this is not having to wait 6 days for your opponent to have her go...

One more purchase from my online browsings to go; but this one requires that we drive to Seymour (1 hour out of Melbourne) this afternoon to view before we hand over any hard-earned. I don't want to say yet in case it doesn't happen but fingers crossed that all goes well. Climber has been counting the days, writing me letters about it and making lego models.

In all his gap-toothed glory.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


In what must be my most prolific week of blogging ever, I would like to announce the arrival of my new nephew. He weighed in at a respectable 9 pounds 2 ounces (I know we're all metricated here in Australia but babies should always be measured imperially otherwise no-one knows if it's big or small), and is showing slight signs of forceps intervention. Ain't he sweet? I don't name names (very much) on this here blog but I will tell you that he shares a name with a movie hero in the sci-fi/action genre, so don't be fooled by those bubsy mittens.

Love and congratulations to the proud parents xxx.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

That was quick.

There's been carnage on the new trampoline.

Don't worry. It's only the wobbly tooth that we predicted would be gone by the end of the week. (And just as an aside it's about time!! It has been a long time between tooth fairy visits for this little blonde bunny)

But it gave him a big fright. He was still recovering from the incident involving grazes and splinters from yesterday's stay in the gym crèche. So he was not as stoic as usual and there were screams from the tramp till I ran out, and much spitting of blood, and then there was a fair bit of sobbing until I was able to clean him up a little and talk it into something he could deal with. That tooth was coming out anyway the face-washer will stop the bleeding it couldn't have been too bad or other teeth would have come out too now the tooth fairy will have to come you are going to have quite a lot of money what with this and your other savings I wonder what you'll buy with it probably lego. He's okay now. Just gotta hope the daddy tooth grows in quick to disguise that horrible gap.

Monday, January 07, 2008


My dad gave the boys a trampoline for Christmas, and Fixit spent a large chunk of Sunday putting it up.

Of course, one must test drive these things before completing the job...

Yep, it all seems to be fine.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Shuffle ball change, shuffle-kiss

This is the first time I've ever choreographed a kiss into a tap routine!

This lovely couple started coming to my tap classes last year and liked it so much fun they decided to do a bit of hoofing for their bridal dance at their wedding next week. So although I'm officially on a tapping holiday, I've been working with them on their routine - to Jimmy Jazz by The Clash- and they look fabulous. You wouldn't even pick them as beginners to be honest, except occasionally when they concentrate so hard they forget to smile. But every time they catch each other's eye, the smiles reappear. They are a terrifically nice couple and you can tell it's going to be a gorgeous wedding. I was only going to charge them for the hall-hire and make my time/choreography their wedding present but they forced money into my hand at the first session and wine & some Clash cds for the second. They're under strict instructions to show me the wedding video when they get back from their honeymoon.


We went to Scienceworks on Friday. Good air-conditioned activity for a hot day, and we're members, so it's free. Children love it because there are heaps of hands-on activities. This construction site below is fantastic, the kids all mobilise when they get to it. Large-scale co-operation like you wouldn't believe. Highly channelled energy goes into shifting blocks: into a wall, out of the wall, down the chute, into wheelbarrows, up conveyor belts. It's all totally pointless when you look at it dispassionately but the kids have a ball.
My almost-7-year-old is probably at the perfect age for this and he enjoyed himself greatly; dashing eagerly to each new thing, exploring, having fun, interacting with other people.

The 4-in-a-corner-year-old was for the most part a big sooky-la-la.

Mostly. Throwing a ball into a vortex would cheer anyone up, I suppose.

I'm adoring the fact that my big boy is still so unselfconscious. Not only did he happily don the rabbit ears, he also gaily hopped (like a bunny) from activity to activity, quite oblivious to anyone else. So much so that he didn't realise that I'd had to take the Cherub into a corner to deal with a mini spak-attack. Fortunately he is also quite mature in lots of ways, so he took himself off to the entrance desk and announced to the woman that he was lost. A colleague was called in to help the Climber find us, but by this stage Cherub and I were walking round the exhibit in search of him, so it was not long before we were re-united. He had to blink back a few tears and needed a little mummy-cuddle, but I suspect he was slightly disappointed that his name was not called over the loudspeakers.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year, Everyone.

If that superstition is correct, the one that says whatever you are doing on New Year's Day is a good indication of what the next year holds for you, then I may spend a lot of 2008 in hysterical tears. There may also be swimming. What else can one do in a heatwave??

New Year's Eve 2007

We spent New Year's Eve happily in the air-conditioned comfort of Astrid's house, only to come home after midnight to find it was actually hotter inside our place than the oppressive 35+ degrees out. The 4 of us all slept in our bedroom that night with the portable air-conditioner roaring noisily away, but the house was still so vile the next morning I stupidly started scouring internet real estate sites to try and find us somewhere nicer to live. Only to realise of course that we could not afford anything else. Normally I don't mind our lack of money but in the searing heat I couldn't find my happy space. Clearly it had melted.

New Year's Eve 2006

When all is said and done I would always value having a life partner who treats me nicely over one that spoils me with material goods, and this held true when, after howling and wailing at Fixit that I needed to get out to swim or to the movies just anywhere but this hellhole & I didn't want to have to do all the organising for once & I needed a break because I'd had to do the single parent thing since our Canberra trip because he'd been off having fun during the first heatwave & how the thought of signing a year's lease to live here was unthinkable when the summer was this bad so early in but that there was nowhere else for us to go & so on, he stroked my hair, he packed us all off to the pool and back, he minded the kids while I went to the movies on my own, he heated my dinner when I got home, he brought me a glass of wine and sat with me while we watched an episode of Jeeves and Wooster. And I felt much better.

Which made it, I suppose, on balance, a happy New Year's Day. So maybe I won't spend 2008 in a waterlogged state. Fingers crossed.