Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Are you sitting down, Nell?

shaggy_6607 the curls_6618

goodbye curls_6705

shorn sheep_6710

back view_6711

Fixit thinks Cherub looks even more like a girl now. As for the Climber, he looks about 9. For some reason cutting his hair made his legs look even longer.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mountain Mini-break

Sometimes it's nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

cherub by the water_6694

To take time out at the top of a mountain and enjoy simple pleasures, like rolling down that inviting slope.

rolling down the hill_6624

Or getting close to nature. In this case, some very bold ducks.

feeding the (giant) ducks_6683

Or making a fire. Climber spent virtually the entire weekend practising his wood-chopping skills. He came home intact, thankfully.

making a fire_6656

Hanging out with grandparents. Showing them how fast you can go on the whirly ride in the local playground.

fixits in a playground_6672

Bonding with the grandparents' pet. Cherub was a very proud dog walker.

walking the dog_6638

It's good to slow down and just be, sometimes. Climber in particular was most reluctant to come home again.

climber_6647

But Bertie Wooster was very relieved to see us back again.

back home with the cat_6702

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Royal Melbourne Show 2008

This is our plan for having a good day at the Royal Melbourne Show. Use of this method will ensure that nobody, and that includes the adult contingent, has a meltdown.

1. Get Fixit (or similar) to have the day off so he can come too. This ensures the parent / child ratio is even.

catching the train_6545

2. Invite nice friends of the children (along with their nice parents) to come with you. This helps maintain good parent / child ratios, gives you more grown-ups to mind bags or children should you need to separate for toilet trips etc., and ensures that different age group children can undertake age appropriate activities with no whingeing from people who are the wrong height for said activities.

Digging the show 6596

3. Park the car at a suburban train station near the showgrounds, then catch the train direct to the Show, thereby avoiding tiring small persons' legs out before you even arrive.

train besties_6546

4. Get there EARLY. As in, as soon as the gates open. Less queuing, less noise, less contact with scary people. (Like the man on the phone talking to whom we assume was his offspring, who we heard say, amongst a whole other string of abuse f**king get over here now you d**khead. Lucky there were none of our children with us at that point to witness this, see point 10). Less panic attacks induced by over-exposure to large numbers of bogans for me.

sliding climber_6548

5. Pack your own lunch and do not let anyone have fairy floss until they've eaten the nutritious stuff.

mini-rollercoaster_6594

6. Insist that they have some contact with livestock even if they really prefer machinery.

P9240348

7. Limit the number of rides so that the adults are not broke by the end of the day morning and the children are not completely berserk.

mini-ferris ride_6571

8. DO NOT tell children that some families buy their children more than one showbag.

show-goers (aged 5ish)_6575

9. DO NOT tell children that some families allow their kids to select their own showbags.

train ride_6576

10. Sneak off while the kids are watching a free activity to buy them the $5 Freddo Frog showbag and do not let them have it till they are on the train home.

train home from the Show_6599

11. Get out while the going is good. Go directly to favourite cafe and give the adults a decent coffee and a nice lunch. Everyone goes home happy.

Full photos here

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Down to here, down to there.

Do you notice anything different about me?

new haircut_6516

Neither did Fixit.



Admittedly he was too busy noticing the astonishing amount of housework I'd done during the day, which you know: there would have been t-r-o-u-b-l-e if he hadn't noticed THAT. But as he walked around admiring all the clear surfaces and gleaming floors he said Didn't you leave the house today? and I flicked my blow-waved hair around like a chick in a nightclub and said Just once. Even then...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Musical Notes

  • Nell and I went with my Mothers' Group friends Astrid and Jenny to their school's Music Trivia Night. Pardon? Of course we won! I had to stay stone cold sober all evening too; curse those antibiotics. There were these extra bonus games outside the main Trivia Competition: Heads or Tails (predict the coin drop) at which I suck, a Limbo competition (at which I also suck, but I think I've got more of an idea of the technique for future attempts) and a game of True or False which, through a combination of 95% lucky /shrewd guesswork and 5% actual knowledge - on the final knock-out question when it counted - I won! Which was worth an extra bottle of wine and a giant Toblerone bar.
  • Cherub walks around the house singing all day. He's just a boy with a song in his heart, and it makes me so happy. My favourite is when he sings We all live in a lallow sumba-ween, a lallow sumba-ween, a lallow sumba-ween.
  • We finally got Bertie Wooster a new collar, with a charming tinkly bell. I actually thought I would get him a nice red or blue collar to set off his coffee brown fur, but suddenly I saw this purple velvet one (in a complementary warm tone) with diamant├ęs! Wasn't worth even looking at anything else after that. He was very funny for the first hour or two, running away from himself and being slightly confused. He then became very competent at removing his new collar, until Fixit fixed it to cat-proof levels.
bertie wooster gets a ding_6500
  • Climber's favourite song at present is The Cure's In Between Days. It's a lot to do with his little girlfriend being overseas. Come back, come back, come back to me. He didn't quite have the lyrics right to start with. It should be:
And I know I was wrong
When I said it was true
That it couldn’t be me and be her
In between without you.
He sang:
And I know I was wrong
When I said it was true
That it couldn’t be me and be her
In a tree without you.
And I think if you are a Climber Boy then there is probably some sort of logic to his misheard lyric.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Uncomfortable Tap Instruction

I suppose there have been other things going on around our house besides my Urinary Tract Infection but I've been unable to concentrate on any of it, such has been my discomfort.

vegetable patch_6481
The last time I had one of these it got up to my kidneys; within 2 hours of my back starting to hurt I had collapsed in the car. Fortunately Fixit was driving but when he pulled over in a panic to get assistance, all the compassionate people on that street quickly walked in the opposite direction. Clearly I need to stop dressing like a drug addict. I ended up in the hospital emergency room and on some industrial strength antibiotics.

anenome_6488
This time I tried self-medicating to start with, alternating sachets of that alkaline lemony fizzy stuff with cranberry juice, but by that evening I knew I needed to see my doctor, stat.

blossoms_6498
Thankfully the antibiotics started to kick in this morning, but can I just take a moment here to whine about how uncomfortable it was to teach tap class last night? Thank you. Very. Very. Uncomfortable.

b0y in box on trampoline_6486
And even though I explained to my students that I was really trying not to jump up and down, in the end I had to jump up and down, that's what you do when you teach tap.

boy, box, bounce_6484
Also when you're on a trampoline obviously. Even if you are wearing a box.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Happy Fixit's Day

Our agreement for Mothers' and Fathers' days is that we only want gifts that the kids have made or chosen themselves. But the reality is that I can count on at least a bunch of flowers when it's my turn to be appreciated, so this year Fixit received a pencil-holder from Cherub, a block of Lindt Coffee Intense Chocolate from Climber and a Luka Bloom cd from me, because I knew he'd been wanting it for a long time.

He also got a pancake breakfast. We tried Joke's recipe (for which I do not have the exact link but maybe the man himself can assist here)...

..and the pancakes were indeed light and fluffy and absolutely delicious. Climber helped me cook and was help not hindrance.

Fixit is a good Dad, and the proof is running round our backyard as I type, watching him as he plants the beginnings of a vegetable patch. Climber thanked him for the father/son stuff they do together in his card.

And Cherub drew a portrait of him, he captured quite a likeness I think. I particularly like the big muscly arms.

Happy Fathers' Day to Mister Fixit.

We also wish a Happy Fathers' Day to Pa Fixit and StomperDad as well, both good fathers and much loved by us all.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

All About The Climber

Or; Work Play Love (at age 7).

WORK.
I help out in the classroom once or twice a week and was horrified on my last visit by the quiet time-wasting being achieved by my child. I mean, he's never exactly been Mister Studious but the distractability had reached epic proportions in this class I observed. The class project was to grow beans in a bag, and they were given a worksheet with three sections: 1. Materials 2. Method 3. Predictions. Halfway through the class I had a look at Climber's sheet, and found to my horror that he'd written One Word (Water in the materials section). I chivvied him and came back ten minutes later to find the chivvying was a waste of good breath seeing as he'd added exactly One More Word (Bag, still in the materials section), which might have happened anyway, chivvying or no. He'd just been too busy picking up any random object near him and making an interesting game out of it - duelling pencils, folding scraps of paper etc. Taking care to always be quiet enough never to draw any teacherly attention to himself. So then, being an interfering, bossy mother, I stayed behind him for the rest of the class and made him Do His Work. Even then he was finding it hard to stay on task, pardon my jargon. And not just because it is extremely annoying to have your mother in class clucking get back to work every 3 seconds. Upon leaving the classroom, I fretted all day and all night and generally carried on like a pork chop about it to him and Fixit and anyone else in earshot, before arranging to see his teacher. My concern was that as a kid who is neither the best or worst in the class he slips through the cracks a bit; that because he reads, writes and 'rithmatics well and doesn't really misbehave as such, his under-achieving within his own capabilities was going unnoticed. (Also I am bewildered because he is A First Child, so why is he not an over-achieving goody two-shoes like I was? Why??!!) Anyway, his teacher was great and immediately implemented a plan involving daily reporting on whether Climber completes his tasks, and repercussions if not; and so far the fact that there is now some sort of consequence for doing or not doing work seems to have gee-ed him up a bit. I can report that he was working much more diligently when I went to class today. (Aren't you glad I'm not your Mum?)

PLAY.
Climber was reported for punching another child in the face, which turned out to be a case of some tom-foolery gone wrong but because it happened at assembly he had to explain his actions to the Principal. The over-achieving goody-two-shoes in me was of course appalled. However, everyone is satisfied that he did not mean to punch the other kid either hard or in the face (and the other kid threw the first play-punch and at least two others were also play-punching), but he's now heard a few of us say things like if you hadn't been mucking around in the first place etc etc. Climber said it was actually much worse explaining himself to his own teacher because his teacher made his eyes all big and looked really surprised at him whereas the Principal just had her normal face on, except not smiling.

LOVE.
A while ago I'd said to another Mum, jokingly in that way you do, My Climber likes your C, to which she replied that her C had mentioned that she thought she had a crush on Climber. How we laughed, aren't they sweet? It was still just looking sweet when he made her a Get Well card when she missed one day of school with gastro last week. Only, now C has gone on holidays, hard on the heels of Climber having decided quite firmly that she was The One, and all week I've been having these heart-twisting conversations with him. Firstly we had them about how much he liked her (you should have seen his happy smile when I let on that C allegedly crush-ed him back). But now we're onto the tear-stained ones about how he is feeling so desolate because he won't see her for 4 weeks. She'd been gone half a day. Last night he said I feel like she is the last piece of the jigsaw and I need her. I am not making that up. Brings back the days when I fell for Jeff Wilson like a tonne of bricks and used to sneak up behind him at lunch time and touch him on the back, hoping he wouldn't know and he told me never do that again and then my Dad consoled me by advising me to turn my attention elsewhere and I told him after a couple of weeks that I'd decided to like Jeremy but I could never love him the way I loved Jeff. Sigh. Apples and trees.

This is him making an I Missed You card for C's return. Which is 4 weeks away still, but who's counting?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On friendship.

I saw Mamma Mia! the movie last week, and, apart from Pierce Brosnan's vocal imitation of a strangled cat, I enjoyed it. Of course I loved the music, (hello my 10-year-old self!) but what I really liked was the way it portrayed female friendship. It reflected the sort of stuff I want from the women in my life; someone to comfort me when I'm down and then make me laugh to help me back up again, who'll come dance and play with me when I feel like celebrating life, who'll know my children and my concerns for them, who'll give me bracing advice when I need it but will also just listen to me when I need to unload. And all the other little things in between. I think I am lucky to have people in my life who do this for me and I came out of the movie with a special glow because it made me think of and give thanks for them.

This weekend my Mum lost one of her very close and special female friends. Her name was Viv. I knew her mostly as Mum's friend so my version of her is slightly watered down I suppose. I'm not sure as children we properly take in our parents' friends. We take them for granted even while we are very aware of them as important people in our lives, same as we do our parents. But I liked Viv enormously. She was vibrant and fun. She was interesting and interested. If she asked you how school was, she wanted to know. She was kind. She had a knack of being able to see the whole picture, the other person's perspective, and usually some sort of historical or social perspective on your problem as well. She was the sort of friend you'd want your Mum to have, you knew that if your Mum was fretting over some aspect of your behaviour, like bad grades or an unsuitable boyfriend, that Viv would have been on both your sides, able to comfort and brace and listen and sympathise.

I'm so sad to know that she's gone because she's been part of my life (in a background-take-her-for-granted way) for decades. And I'm so sad for my Mum too, because I know how much she will miss Viv and their friendship. They were always there for each other, and now Viv's not. We have to take comfort in small things; that Viv was so ill that it was better this way, and that we had those many great years of friendship and good times, but of course it's not enough.