Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Brown Kites

This is how I look with bronchitis:

Actually, I don't think the picture shows quite how miserable and washed out I was, and possibly the reflection from the disgusting-but-warm orange jumper is giving the impression of colour in my face when in fact there was none.

Somehow I got bronchitis because the Cherub had viral croup. I don't quite know how these things work but I do know I was much harder hit. I don't think I've ever felt so sick. Whilst we are both now on the mend, the Cherub and I are still very croaky - he sounds adorable, and breaks our hearts when he gets high-pitched and squeaky over the occasional brotherly disagreement.

Relief came for me in the form of some more powerful painkillers - plain old paracetamol was not helping in the slightest, the first time that's ever happened- and some antibiotics. Only now it turns out I have developed an allergy to penicillin and need to take the large red welts on my neck for a walk to the chemist to get my replacement prescription.

Not the best start to school holidays. Luckily, the boys have been self-managing extremely well, Fixit has leapt to the fore with meal management, and the lovely Miss Kaye took on the Monday night Beginner Tap Classes for me. See? There's always a silver lining.

Backyard 639

Thursday, June 25, 2009

School Reports

As an ex-girlyswot extraordinaire, I am thrilled to announce my children were both rated as excellent in their effort and class behaviour.

I am also thrilled (but not surprised, I help out in class I've seen how well he's settled in) to see that Cherub received a glowing report for his first one ever.

morning cherub0583

I am even more thrilled to announce that the Climber, who had been mooching along with minimal effort for his first few years at school, has blossomed this year under the tutelage of a much stricter and bossier teacher with -as she puts it - high expectations. It's not that he's ever done badly, mind, he's always been right on target, it's just that this year for the first time ever he has started to do really well.

morning climber581

So much so that he's been doing the Extension Program in mathematics, which as far as I can gather is special coaching and stimulation for the clever-clogses. The thing that gets me is that I've just found this out. Surely a little note home to the parents wouldn't be out of the question, vis; Your child has been selected for the Extension Program in Subject X which means he'll do Y. Because if school thinks that the Climber will EVER tell me what goes on there, they are dreamin'.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Expectations Exceeded

Last Friday we put Fixit in some smart clothes (No denim! said the invitation) and went off to collect his Oscar for Most Outstanding Performance in the Aeronautic Engineering Category, 1st Year. The lovely Jenny came over and minded the boys, even going so far as to listen to and sign off on the Cherub's Home Reading, which saved us a bit of panic on Sunday night. The Awards were held at a nearby reception centre and the alcohol was plentiful and the food was fine; one of those alternating chicken/beef menu drops but all perfectly edible and NOT lasagne so I was happy. They had an amusing MC and an official photographer* and lots of prizes. Bizarrely they made all three nominees for each award show up, and hauled them up to stand on stage for as long as it took to announce that they hadn't actually won, upon which they were summarily kicked offstage to give the winner a moment of glory. We actually knew Fixit had won, his letter said so, but I think maybe some of the nominees might have lived in hope, and then been cruelly dashed. Harsh.

fixit gets award8421

We had very pleasant people sitting at our table including the winner of the 2nd Year honours in Fixit's division, whose father drove 200 kms (and 200 more back home) to be with his beautiful son and was such a good honest country type that when I, overcome with a sort of motherliness at his young son's sweet face and demeanour, said are you bursting with pride? replied with something noble like well if you put in the work you can go far, but then looked up at me with proud tears in his eyes and I had to look away before I broke down and embarrassed myself.


Anyway, despite the other table members being perfectly nice I found myself, as the evening progressed, balking at starting yet another conversation with strangers (possibly because I was the designated driver and therefore sober) and that is how I learned how to Tweet-on-Twitter with my phone. Thereby ensuring that I could hang with my peeps while Fixit worked the room.

And work the room he did! Turns out that the guy who looks after the apprentices at the big-airline-for-whom-we'd-rather-Fixit-worked was there that evening (at the next table no less), and one of Fixit's lecturers** made a point of engineering a meeting between the two of them. People, there was networking. Networking is a powerful tool in a world of it's not what you know it's who you know. Not only did Fixit come away with his prize-winner's cheque, he also had the business card of the important guy and an appointment next week to talk things through.


Our fingers are crossed!

*We are waiting to receive official photo in the mail.
**It has been quite heartening how the TAFE has rallied round Fixit since he told them of his problems

Friday, June 19, 2009

Two things.

The way we parent is an amalgam of the way we were brought up (the bits we accept, the bits we reject), the way our partners were brought up, the books we read, the money we earn, the country we live in. Etcetera, etcetera to quote the King of Siam.

But here are 2 random things that influenced my parenting.

1. Watching a documentary called Faces In The Mob, about kangaroos. There were these two mother kangaroos. One was very firm and bossy about training her joeys what to do. Her babies all lived. The other was a bit more slapdash, a bit vague and never any follow-through. Her joeys died; one was hunted, then lost and died a cold, lonely, pain-filled death. I can't tell you how much of an impact that show had on me. But I can tell you that my children know that No means No.

2. I house-sat for a friend who was also a cat-breeder. One of the cats liked to sleep with me, and decided she would still prefer to do this despite having given birth to a litter of kittens the previous night. While I was awake I kept returning the mother cat and her mouthful of mewling kitten back to their basket. But eventually I slept, and I slept deeply as I always do. When I woke the next morning, that very persistent cat (she was Burmese) and all her kitties were in with me, but 2 of them were cold and dead. Again, major impact on my psyche. I still remember coming to and wondering what the cold furry lump near my thigh was. I never let my babies sleep in the bed with me.

Bertie Wooster_8409

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Three things.

The Cherub's health scare last week was actually the Middle One of the proverbial Three Things. The first one - and this is its technical name I believe - was Stinky Ear. He'd just had a lovely bubble bath and I was sniffing him as he sat in my lap (as you do), when the floral aromas were completely disrupted by a truly terrible pong which fair assailed my nostrils. From his ear. Blah. Just disgusting. So we gave it a good clean out and it appears to have sorted itself out. Then we had our mad rush to the Childrens' Hospital which cost me between $100 - $200 in lost revenue. And now he's got his first ever case of nits. Bless. Actually I thought he had a nit plague of biblical proportions, but with the aid of a magnifying glass I have decided that 90% of the million eggs we found were just flakes of skin, probably a little patch of leftover cradle cap. So he did have nits, but just a normal amount, which we caught and treated promptly. A friend directed me to this link which promotes marinating the little parasites in orange juice before combing them out with conditioner so we tried it just for novelty. Thus:

Orange Juice Hair_8415

Fixit tells me there was a dead nit on Cherub's back when he got in the bath which suggests it did work and the rotten buggers jumped ship.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Proper Way...

... to ease back into Real Life after a blissy Craft Retreat would be to go off to teach tap-dance, as planned, to the Monday Night students - of whom there are many - and rock some of the new choreography accomplished at said Retreat.

But the way I did it was to drive in the cold and rain and dark to the Royal Children's Hospital with the brave Cherub, all the time wondering if he would need an emergency operation to sort out his painful and dangerous urological emergency, whilst simultaneously trying to call/text as many students as possible, in between updates to Fixit, at home with the Climber.

The Cherub is fine now, and no operation required. They gave him happy gas, and although his body contorted and his face went red as they put him to rights he has absolutely no memory of it. They took the gas mask off his face and he sat up straight away, cheery as pie, and ate with relish the lemonade icypole they gave him, then asked if he could go play on the play equipment in the waiting room. (Of course I let him.) He then chattered happily all the way home, chiefly about how much fun it was to sit in the front of the car with the booster seat - such was his pain beforehand that he'd not really noticed this on our drive in.

And I was fine through most of it, buoyed, I think, by residual serenity from my weekend, the Cherub's braveness and the lovely staff at the RCH who saw him instantly (once we made it past the Swine Flu Security Guard). There was a moment though, when he was chatting to the nurse and the gas took effect: suddenly he had no idea who she was and then his worried eyes scanned the room until they found me ... and then he relaxed. It felt like one of those moments in parenthood, when they needed you and you were there.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I know everyone is dying to know what I made at Craft Retreat so let's get it out of the way ... dadadaDAH!

wonky book cover_8391

Yes, it's a WONKY BOOK COVER!! I will be listing it in my Etsy shop shortly. The material is an old skirt given to me by my mother because, as she said, the material was too nice to throw away. The pattern is a lovely one adapted from the Meet Me at Mikes book and the wonkiness is by me, but in my defence I feel the instructions may have been aimed slightly above my level of True Crafty No-Idea-ness. I probably needed a bit more emphasis on the part about how I needed to join together the 2 pattern pieces provided by the book to make One Piece -with stickytape, no need to sew- BEFORE going anywhere near the fabric. However now that I know this, I think I will try another one, and not use excess fabric pieces OR interfacing. Stay tuned.

Sewjourn House_8400

Once the sewing component of my craft retreat was completed, I took my tap shoes and a board and spent some time hammering away on the verandah, armed with my trusty iPod, which had been newly accesssorised with a sports armband and some ritzy diamante-studded earphones, thank you Nell and Elda. In amongst some general warming up and practise I finished off 2 Beginner routines and 2 Kiddy Routines. Every so often I would retreat into the house, not just to disrupt Suse and Eleanor but also to replenish myself with cups of tea, chocolate biscuits and some fireside warmth. During the evenings I also did most of a crossword and about 8 rows of knitting.

Sewjourn dinner_8387Sewjourn dinner_8388

The work ethic at Craft Retreat was astonishing. Suzie would head for the studio at the crack of dawn and only came back to the house for meals and sleep. Ellen would be sitting chatting with us at dinner and suddenly get a faraway look in her eyes as she thought of something in the studio, and in the blink of an eye she'd be gone. Leslie kept threatening to have a nap and would go so far as to remove herself from the studio, only to reappear minutes later with a cup of coffee and a new project in mind. Eleanor worked studiously on her writing and homework and kept the homefire burning, Suse wrote her essay but still managed to sew a top, knit some shawl and spin some wool, Janet kept telling herself she needed to go slowly in front of the machine, then in the evening picked up her crochet and made the biggest and fastest granny square (a cushion cover I think) I've ever seen. Jenny and Magda revelled in the sheer bloody luxury of it; of leaving their work to eat a delicious meal prepared by someone else and coming back to find their projects exactly where they'd left them, of having time and resources and help and company and inspiration and chocolate.


In amongst all this output were the delicious meals (we catered one meal each and Oh! the joy of having to do nothing about dinner except show up to the table and eat - must be what it's like for everyone in my family except me), the excellent company and the pretty surrounds. Sometimes in my head I'd think of it as Craft Camp but it was far too posh to be confused with camping. For the first time ever in a holiday house I did not come home desperate for a good cup of tea because Sewjourn has a bone china teapot and bone china mugs, with white inside. Perfect.


I missed my boys and they missed me so it was lovely to come home. But there are plans afoot for more sewjourns.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Fifteen Years.

fixit and me 1994
1994, posing awkwardly in front of the brand new fence.

When I received the invitation to go on Craft Retreat recently I - of course - said Yes! pretty much straight away without doing anything technical like checking the calendar. It was left to my good friend and fellow Craft Retreater Jenny to point out that I'd be going away from my beloved family on my birthday. Which is okay I think, a little time-out is a nice birthday treat, fair enough. But my birthday is also the anniversary of Fixit and I getting together and it is our 15th (which is divisible by 5 so it must be important - unlike last year when we had a posh dinner because I got my numbers mixed up) so I did feel bad when I realised all this and I asked Fixit whether I should stay home after all. Luckily Fixit was very nice about it and said we could just go for a posh dinner on another night. The upshot of this is that I am celebrating my birthday slightly early (ie today) and to make up for my thoughtlessness I decided to mark our anniversary with the tale of how Fixit and I came to be.

Sixteen years ago I was working at renowned Melbourne ice-cream shop, Charmaine's Icecream. At the time I was in a relationship with a moody English boy but it was limping along - and not just because he lived in Canberra. Long-distance love affairs are difficult enough but there were other problems, chief amongst them the backwash from our disastrous European trip together. Enter Mister Fixit, who started work at Charmaine's in the kitchen, making the icecream. (I was out the front scooping it.) We noticed each other. I was still in a relationship but we chatted, and whenever he walked behind me he would give my ponytail a friendly tug. He told me later he used to admire my arse in a favourite pair of rainbow coloured trousers. It was about this time that I successfully auditioned for the show Stomp! -in its Melbourne Comedy Festival incarnation featuring 30 local performers- and I actually received the call that I'd got into the show when I was at work. I still remember turning around in blissful excitement to see Fixit and another worker smiling curiously at me, wondering what the big news was. Fixit was the first person I told, come to think of it.

Anyway, some days after that I came into work and heard that Fixit would no longer be working at Charmaine's. He had been hit by a car whilst riding his motorbike. A P-plater, on the freeway, had pulled over suddenly, taking out the motorbike and sending Fixit flying at top speed into the metal railing at the side of the road. His leg was so badly broken that his foot was facing the wrong way. We were all deeply shocked, and even though I hadn't known him for very long I decided to visit him in hospital, acting, I now see, on the dormant attraction I'd felt for him. I remember walking into his hospital room, full of concern, and barely noticing the scaffolding protruding from his leg, dazzled as I was by his manly bare chest. I actually went slightly weak at the knees, but Fixit didn't really notice because he was high as a kite on the hospital drugs at that stage.

I didn't see him for ages after that, although he tells me that I nearly knocked him off his crutches when he was hobbling along Brunswick Street months later as I rushed out of work to grab food for my dinner break. After he'd regained his balance he remarked to his friend that he knew that girl but I was long gone by then. In the meantime I called it quits with the moody English boy and got my head together. And six months after that I announced to a co-worker at Charmaines that I was ready to have a boyfriend again. Being as he was a very helpful and older-brotherly type, my co-worker scratched his chin for a bit and then said Hmm what about Mister Fixit? And I, without even bothering to think that hard about it, said Mmm yes, he's nice.

So it was arranged between my co-worker and Fixit's best-friend (the Bike Nazi, who had also worked at Charmaine's) that Fixit would be invited as the Bike Nazi's guest to the Charmaine's Staff Party, which as it happened was being held on my birthday. Now, I knew about the set-up but the Bike Nazi had seen fit only to say there is this girl, but not which one to Mister Fixit. So I was at my MOST charming, and he was sitting there happily chatting to me as one of the few people he actually knew whilst simultaneously wondering who the mystery girl was and keeping an eye out for her. For quite a long time, actually. But finally my charm offensive began to take effect and he told me later that what went through his head was : I don't care about whoever this set-up is, I'm quite happy where I am.

And that was when the penny finally dropped. D'oh.

We hung out together for the rest of the evening and as we both left he held my hand and asked for my phone number. I think our first date was 3 nights later.

(I achieved almost legendary status at Charmaine's amongst the girl-staff meanwhile for my work that evening, and some of them started asking my advice on How To Get A Man. True story.)

Last year we walked past Charmaine's Icecream on Brunswick Street where it all started, only to see it had shut down. But me and Mister Fixit, we're still going strong, even if I do desert him on our special day.

Happy Anniversary xx

fixit & me lucinda's wedding 94
1994, a friend's wedding. Fixit looks SO young!!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Outstanding First Year Student

He walks in behind me and says Look at this:

congrats Fixit

And I say Huh? and then Wow! and, as I read a bit further... And you get a dinner as well? (Last time he won one of these - for the motorcycle apprenticeship - the ceremony was deadly dull and I don't remember much in the way of catering. We only went the first year he won an award, and dodged it the next 2 times.)

Then he walks out saying but at what cost? not really worth it.. or words to that effect. But good-naturedly, not bitterly.

And I follow him and give him an enormous hug and say No! This is good. You are clever, you did very well! and he gets lots of smoochy kisses, which makes him laugh despite himself and he does look quite happy.

And then, to his embarrassment, I insist we ring his mum. He says I'm 40 and I say I don't care, I'd want my boys to ring me.