Saturday, January 31, 2009

Spur of the Moment Beach Holiday

I'm going to tell you the part about our homecoming first. I'm doing this because our homecoming was disgusting and annoying, and whilst it is obviously a good story which relates to our trip away, I don't want it to be the final flavour of this piece.

So here is the disgusting and annoying end to our tale:

When we returned home from our spur-of-the-moment beach holiday, we walked into our house, which had been closed up and baked in the historic three-day 43+degree Melbourne heatwave. As expected the air was thick and hot, and although it was nasty to walk into, we were able to congratulate ourselves for having escaped actually living in it during the heatwave. But as I walked from room to room, throwing open the windows to encourage inside the mild cool change that blew around the outside of the house, my nostrils were assailed by a Very Bad Smell. Worse, it came from our bedroom. So I did the only sane and rational thing in I could do in that situation; I went outside to tell Fixit that I was pretty sure that Bertie Wooster had left a dead bird in our room.

My nose had not lied to me, and even Iron-guts Fixit struggled with the clean-up. He was heard to voice his intention to kick Bertie Wooster all the way back to Seymour. The maggotty remains of the bird were writhing under our bed and the smell was just vile. One day, two incense sticks, a vacuum and some bicarb soda later and the smell is still not nice. Thank goodness one of our new couches has a fold-out bed in it!

Now for the good stuff. We got to escape the foul Melbourne heatwave!!

Fixit's work stood him down unexpectedly this week, due to him having too many extra hours to his credit. So I made a quick phone call to my aunt and uncle, and they very kindly gave us the use of their beach-house. And although Barwon Heads and surrounds was suffering from exactly the same heatwave as poor old Melbourne, it didn't matter!!! Heatwaves at beaches are fun! Too hot? Let's go swimming! Or lounge around in the cool house watching tennis! Or eat takeaway food! Or have an ice-cream! (Climber lost a tooth into an ice-cream cone, but didn't swallow it, luckily.) See? Fun. And Easy.

Barwon Heads beach_7632

My friend Jenny loaned us a beach shelter and some blow-up boogie boards, which were a smash hit. The water was completely refreshing and I swam as much as anyone, in Just Bathers, didn't need a Wussy Wetsuit! And we saw a Real Dolphin, an actual wild dolphin!!! A guy told me that the locals call it Archie and that it has been swimming into the river beach at Barwon Heads and frolicking round with the swimming people for the last few weeks.
And we saw it!
I was beside myself with excitement, it's one of my wishes come true to see a dolphin in its natural habitat. Sadly, I didn't have my camera ready because I was in the water at the time.

Cherub mostly floated serenely on the boogie-board, preferably with a parent pulling him around with the leadrope -like a little pasha- or played in the sand, but he practised his floating when I told him to.

Barwon heads on the blow-up boogie board_7626

Climber tried sushi (fussy eaters can come good, Climber is living proof!) and wave-catching. He swam freestyle in the river, jumped through waves in the surf, dug forts in the sand, or ran around the beach playing his own private and intense fantasy games. He is just lovely to take on holiday.


We made Fixit drive us to the nearby beach at Queenscliff to show him how ace it was. Twice. (River beaches are okay, but surf is much more fun!)

floating at queenscliff_7645

Best of all, poor tired, stressed, overworked Mister Fixit-McCrankypants gradually relaxed back into the Fixit we know and missed.

Sandcastles at Queenscliff_7650

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Dear Climber,

For your 8th birthday we gave you a special day of treats.

When you woke up your brother gave you the card he'd made all by himself. (It's a drawing of a Lego rock monster)

Cherub's card to Climber_7566

And we gave you a present. The mail-order Lego didn't arrive in time but you were happy with the little gold-digging set.


Then, at your request, we all caught a train into the city.

Fixits on a train_7574

We went to the toyshop at Myer to spend the birthday money from your Grandmas. (You didn't actually request that bit, that was my idea.) Of course you chose Lego.

Lego Tram at Myer_7577
(we would have liked to buy this Lego)

Or THIS one.

Lego R2D2 at Myer_7579

Then we found a place that could make a spider for you (your special birthday request) and a milkshake for Cherub and coffees for Fixit and me. (And threw in a doughnut too, it was your birthday after all)

Birthday Treat_7582

We caught the train back home.

Trainride with lego_7589

Then you played.

Lego present from Grandma M_7591

That evening, we went to one of those family restaurants where they have indoor playgrounds for the kids, and had birthday dinner with our friends. My meal was 'orrible but you enjoyed your pizza and lemonade.

birthday dinner_7595

When we got home we had birthday cupcakes.

8 candles 7604

As we tucked you into bed that night you said thank you to us and told us it was the best birthday ever.

We said Our pleasure, sweetie. You're worth it.

Happy 8th birthday, gorgeous boy.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Catbook is stupid

When I admitted, slightly shamefacedly, to Fixit that I'd given Bertie Wooster his own page on Catbook, Fixit rolled his eyes at me in genuine disgust. Which lead him to say no wonder people think you waste too much time on that stupid blogging and I said which people? and he said doesn't matter and I said people whose opinion I care about? and he said probably not. Which was the point at which my suspicions were confirmed and I knew that it was Fixit's friend and eternal pain in my arse, the Bike Nazi. So I said has he even read the blog? and he said I doubt it and I thought but didn't say how typical it was of the Bike Nazi to pass judgement without even knowing the whole story - because if he's not into it, there must be something wrong with it, obviously.

And I thought; Bite me, stupid Bike Nazi. Because he just doesn't get it. Okay, I admit and am fully aware that Catbook is stupid. And that Facebook is also stupid. But My Blog is our family chronicle. I'm glad of it now and will probably be even more glad of it in years to come. What's more, I've made friends through it, found inspiration, learned things, laughed, cried, bought or won or was given stuff. Don't talk to ME about stupid blogging.


In order to further celebrate all things good in blogging, I am jumping in to support a new venture by my blog friend Tracey, Ms Peppermint Patcher herself. This is her blurb for her new business venture:
Imagine that... quilts are a new concept in quilted wall-hangings for children. By the inclusion of photographs children can see themselves right in the action. Allow your child to be taken into an imaginary world, allow them to tell stories of their adventures, allow them to enjoy the fun, allow them to feel the excitement.

This is a picture of a quilt featuring the young Tracey herself imagining herself as a real quilter.

I have already nagged her about the potential of this quilt for the adults. I fully intend to have Imagine That quilts featuring the boysies, but I would SELL ANOTHER ONE ONE OF FIXIT'S MOTORBIKES to have a quilt like this (but with me and some purple tap shoes, natch) and I'm pretty sure there's a market for booklovers, knitters, crafters, photographers.... Tracey says one thing at a time Stomper Girl. And I say Go Visit her Site or its Blog and nag her.


While I'm jumping on bandwagons I would also like to urge you to visit another talented friend, also called Tracy but spelled differently. She is a co-creator of Fat Mummas and they make very groovy bags and kid's clothes.

This is the shop and this is the blog. If you want to nag her about Cherub's pants for me then please do.


Also, one more plug, this one is for the lovely Megan at Glorydaze. She made my last bag, then I won a voucher for her shop and bought a new one. My only complaint is that I loved the old bag so much it was really hard to upgrade but the new one is completely gorgeous and has compartments and everything. Her shop. Her blog.

Finally a big HELLO and thank you if you delurked for New Year. So nice to meet you! And Caity and Suse your interviews are coming, I swear.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quick Quiz

January is my least favourite month of the year because?

(a) It is hot. And I am no good at hot, it makes me cross.
(b) I don't get enough time to myself due to being with the kids virtually every hour of the school holidays.
(c) I don't do any tap-dancing (no point keeping school open in January, most people are away) and I miss it and its soul-restoring properties.
(d) All of the above.


Clever, you are. It's (d) of course.


Yesterday in the 40 degree heatwave, I said something that rhymed with more ducks bake in front of the children as I wrestled with the hot outlet tube of the portable air-conditioner, and I Didn't Even Care. Probably because I'd just roared at them for daring to ask me what I was doing as I wrestled the unit away from the west-facing window (which was letting in more 40-degree-air than it was pumping out, thus rendering the air-con completely useless). Because, geez, the nerve of them, talk about rotten badly-behaved brats.

I get very paralysed in extreme heat. I don't want to be with all the other people at the pool or the movies because if I'm hot and bothered I can't bear being near stupid people, and I get cabin fever if I stay home, because our house is VILE in the heat and anyway, I'm used to leaving the house every day, it feels wrong if I don't.

Fortunately the cool change blew away my bad temper in the late afternoon, and the kids and I ventured out to our favourite cafe for a change of scenery.

ians cafe_7540

I realised that what I needed was some proper time out, so I abandoned the family to the penne bolognese at home and just didn't come home after the chiropractor. Instead I went to a cafe with a book, and had dinner with gin&tonic. Then I dropped in on Shula and made the acquaintance of the Creative Genius, the Polar Bear and the new Palazzo. I came home feeling much better.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Despite the fact that the boys and I do a great deal of stuff without Mister Fixit, I am a tad nervous about going away on holiday without his help. Especially if it is to a beach.This is because if Fixit comes, I know he'll do all the driving and all the getting into the cold ocean with the children, two things I'm not that keen on.

queenscliff pier_7493

However, when I received an invitation from my friend Lucy (mother of Cherub's best friend) to come stay a couple of nights at a house in Queenscliff, it was easy to persuade myself that I could handle the drive and the swim. For a start, there was a 2-day heatwave forecast. Heatwaves in Melbourne are revolting, especially in our house. But heatwaves at the beach are a good thing, particularly for cold-water fearers like myself. And Fixit was rostered on night-shift all that week so things were only going to be topsy-turvy at home. Furthermore, we found out that Climber's best friend's family was also in Queenscliff on a little camping trip for the same few days. So in the end, the decision to pack the boys into the car and drive for a mere two hours down the highway wasn't that scary.

pier end_7498

Boys and their Mums (and one aunt) in Queenscliff, that's what it was. Well, except for Lucy's Dad, who hired the house and spread his grandfatherly wings to enfold my two as well as his one. How could he not when my boys addressed him as Pa for the duration?

cherub in a wetsuit_7466

It was all so very easy. The Queenscliff beach is perfect for young children, with little waves just the right size for small boys to jump over and slightly bigger boys to try beginner body-surfing in. My two are at the age and level of water competence that I no longer need to be within arm's reach of them in the water. I could quite easily have stayed on the sand with the occasional shout of Climber don't go any deeper, but the aunt (of Climber's Best Friend, see above) had loaned me a wetsuit, so when I felt up to it I enjoyed my own little frolics in the water. And all we Mums had the same energy / motivation levels which meant that the ice-cream stops, beach visits or other activities (like the mini fun-fair) were enjoyable and simple to organise.

dragon ride_7504

The boys were great and had a great time, particularly Climber who was delighted with everything.

queenscliff beach_7492

And it was fabulous to share a house with another Mum; not only for girl-talk, trashy-mag sharing and champagne drinking but also because Mums do stuff without needing directions. All the meal preparation, bed-making, cleaning up, child-washing / feeding/ story-reading, all that work just happened when it ought and how it ought.

It was a holiday that actually felt like a holiday. But we will let Fixit come on the next one if he's good.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Boot Camp

It was with some dismay that I looked upon my post-Christmas silhouette and realised that, in the absence of my usual tapping regime, I would have to dole out some tough love to my newly-acquired squidgy bits. Time was I could sit around indulging my sweet tooth at Christmas and not suffer too many consequences but I'm over 40 with 2 children, and the options are: exercise or face the muffintops.

So when my friend Jenny told me about the Boot Camp sessions being held round the corner from her house, I put aside my long-held aversion to running and push-ups and the like, and decided to have a crack at it.

The sessions are family friendly and Climber was most interested, so he came along that first Saturday to observe and muck around in the dirt/ grass as the mood took him. We warmed up by jogging round the footy field 3 times. Have I mentioned how much I dislike running or jogging? Then it was circuit training: 50 push-ups, sprint to the first cone, 50 lunges, sprint to the second cone etc.

baking_7452(Baking, one cause of muffintops)

Anyway, somehow I made it through and although I was definitely slacking off by the end of the hour, I didn't feel too shamed by my efforts. This despite my pathetic-ness at sit-ups - made worse by the Boot Camp Lady saying Come on Caroline you're a dancer you're supposed to have a strong core. I was too knackered by then to explain how I hadn't done any actual sit-ups since for at least as long as Cherub's been alive. I just grimaced and tried to raise my upper body more than 2 inches off the ground again.

The best part came afterwards as Jenny, Climber and I walked back to Jen's house for a cuppa, and Climber couldn't stop telling me how good he thought we looked. I know I've already said this Mummy, but you looked really good at Boot Camp. Isn't that so much better than I thought dancers were supposed to have strong cores?

The worst part was the Very Sore Body I hobbled around with for the next 48 hours. Lowering myself to sitting position, grunting. I was, as Jenny predicted, tucked up in bed by 9.30 that first night.

I fronted up again on the Monday with both boys this time. Cherub was mostly unimpressed to be there (sitting on the sidelines with snacks and toys) and gave his pouting muscles a very good boot-camperly work out for the duration. But Climber was as keen as mustard to join in where possible, and especially liked when we got sent to run up and down a BIG flight of stairs 6 times. He would have done this more than twice if I'd let him. Endearingly, he'd been "training" for the Monday boot camp on and off all Sunday. He practised lifting weights by walking round the backyard gripping the fold-up scooters, and was heard running laps of the Cherub's train-track in their bedroom, round and round and round.

Later I went to see the doctor about the numbness I was experiencing down the length of my right arm (stupid parvovirus) and she frowned at me for doing Boot Camp and said taking up a new exercise regime was a Bad Idea when you were post-viral. So I didn't do the Wednesday session.

But, the thing is, I am used to exercising and I'm competent at listening to my body and interpreting when to go on and when to stop. So I went back the next Saturday and I made Fixit do it too.

Now, what with having worked 9 1/2 hour days without respite for the last 6 months and - if the amount of revolting coughing and hacking is any guide (and it will have to be because God forbid that he should actually go and see a doctor about it)- suffering from some sort of chest complaint, poor old Fixit did not make it through the session and had to sit with the pouting Cherub on the sidelines, a broken man, while Climber and I frisked about. And the fact that I knew about the extenuating circumstances behind Fixit's Fatigue did not prevent me from being very smug afterwards. Very smug.

melting butter_7449
(Children, another cause of muffintops)

After three sessions I can say my silhouette has improved, and my plan is to keep attending Boot Camp when I can for the rest of January so that I am impressively buff for the start of the tap year. Once I'm back dancing I predict that jogging related activities will halt! Deep down I just hate this sort of exercise even though I can feel it doing me a lot of good. I'm not good enough at running to get into a rhythm or a mind-zone where I can think interesting thoughts, so as I pant my way round another lap, all I can think is god I hate running.

I'm off to flaunt my slightly improved silhouette at the beach with Climber and Cherub (Fixit is stuck here in the heatwave, working night shift) for a couple of days. See you when I get back!

Friday, January 09, 2009


Almost every time I read or watch an interview there is a little part of me that wants some of that action. A little part of me that whines I'm interesting too, interview me!! Ask me about my fascinating points of view. Well finally, FINALLY, someone has asked to interview me. And let's not dwell too much on the fact that I had to ask her to do it on her blog, and that the interview is really a meme doing the rounds of the blogosphere. The point is, I'm finally being interviewed and just because it's not an interview in the local paper where I get to talk about my tap school and generate heaps of publicity and clientele, or on some television show acknowledging my brilliant career (note to self, having a brilliant career in the first place might help here), well, at least it's a start.


These questions are courtesy of that stylish jet-setter, Fairlie. If you know her, I want you to picture her graciously showing me to my seat after a well-researched and fascinating introduction All About Me.

During the interview you'll see her smiling, nodding encouragingly and maybe referring to the clipboard on her lap occasionally.

Music plays, I walk on to the set, smiling. I'm probably wearing my new deco dress.

Fairlie: Hello Stomper Girl. Welcome to the Show.
(Smiling and shaking hands)
SG: Thank you Fairlie, it's a privilege to be here. (Sits. Sips water nervously)
Fairlie: I love your dress.
SG: (modestly) Thank you! Just doing my bit to help the economy. (They laugh)

Fairlie: They're making a musical of your life. What is it called and how does the show-stopping big number go?

SG: I think they've already made it, it starred Liza Minelli and is called Stepping Out. For dramatic licence they turned Fixit's character into an unsupportive alcoholic and of course neither of my pregnancies were unwanted, but the rest - where I have a bunch of charming, occasionally quirky, tap students who come to me for dance lessons but really it's them who give me so much - is like a mini snap-shot of my life. The big number at the end is all razzly-dazzly singin' and tappin'. And legs. Lots of legs.

Fairlie: Cherub starts school this year. Will there be tears on the first day?
SG: I suspect so, if Climber's first day is anything to go by.

Fixit has booked to take the day off in preparation. But these things are often odd, I know my friend Astrid was convinced she'd be a mess for her firstborn's first day and then it was all such a blur and the kids were inside before she had a chance to take it all in, so you never know. I'm predicting yes though, because the Cherub is my bay-bee.

(camera close-up to SG's eyes, misting over slightly at the thought)

Fairlie: Is Sunday still your hair-washing day? Has this been a lifelong routine?

I take hair advice pretty seriously, especially if I learnt it in the 80's. Remember the way you had to look after your perm? You could ONLY comb (and never brush!!) whilst you were washing it during the application of the conditioner.

So somewhere along the track I've absorbed the hair-wisdom that less is more where washing is concerned and I only wash my hair twice a week. Sunday is just my only day for sleep-ins and leisurely starts, which is why it mostly happens then.

Fairlie: What is better - comfort or speed?
SG: Depends what for. (blushes) If I'm trying to get the boys in the car on a school morning, some more speed would be great. But on the whole, I like to be comfortable. This is why I -almost- never wear high heels.

Fairlie: In your opinion, what sports could be improved with the liberal application of sequins and make-up?

SG: Boxing?
I actually dislike seeing anyone wearing a lot of make-up, particularly children. I don't wear much myself. Not because of my natural beauty, just because I hate how I look with it on. I think I prefer seeing my freckles... But I do like sequins. Adding sequins wouldn't make me watch boxing though. Or golf.

Fairlie: I'm afraid that's all we have time for. Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer my questions.

SG: It's been a pleasure Fairlie, thanks for having me. And could I just add that I am more than happy to sit in the interviewing seat for any bloggers out there with similar aspirations*.

(Applause, music starts, credits roll, fade to black)

Just let me know and I'll email you 5 questions.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ringing in the new.

If I were to do a little precis of 2008 I would say...
Climber: Grade 2, and a little love affair - very good year.
Cherub: Kindergarten, huge improvement at swimming, finally picked up a pencil - very good year.
Bertie Wooster: arrived at our house, caught lots of mice and got loved to bits - a good year
Stomper: Tap school starting to do very well, got some real grown-ups' furniture at home - good year.
Fixit: Career change, tired, stressed, grumpy - hard year. (But we knew the first year in to the career change would be tough so our fingers are crossed that 2009 is easier and happier)

Anyway, because that's not such an exciting list, I give you instead a picture of my new dress, all silk and purple and art deco. I've been supporting the economy, as requested -and funded- by our Prime Minister. Shopping never felt so virtuous. The dress was on sale, half-price. I held it up to show Fixit and he completely ignored the loveliness of the dress as he gasped at the price tag and exclaimed Ninety nine dollars for a dress! When I tell my girlfriends this they roll their eyes and say $99 is cheap for a dress, especially a silk one. I love my girlfriends.

deco dress_7414

Last night we stayed in, being as I am a grinch about New Year's Eve festivities. I made a nice roast lamb dinner and sticky date pudding for dessert and hired dvds to be watched in comfort from the new pull-out sofa-bed. The boys of course were entranced by a Bed In The Lounge-Room and so of course we had to have bedtime stories all tucked in there together. Climber has already asked if he could sleep in it for a night, but where would Fixit and I sit to relax if Climber slept in the lounge, hmm?

newyears eve_7424

Anyway, I would like to wish all who read here the very best for 2009, and give a special mention to my little network/family of blog-friends (you know who you are xx) whose friendship I treasure so much. And I thought I would also ask a small favour. I suspect there might be a few lurkers who also read here, so as a New Year's present to me, won't you please de-lurk and say hello or happy new year or anything you like, really. Go on, don't be shy.

Happy New Year to you all! Cx