Monday, May 25, 2009

Prep K and the Mini Concert.

Cherub's teacher K is exactly what you'd hope to get if you were ordering the perfect prep teacher. She is sweetness and light and the children do everything she asks of them instantly and cheerfully, just because they adore her. There is perfect order in the classroom and happy, busy students. Cherub has a major crush on her and I don't blame him. I've done a couple of parent helper sessions with the class and been so impressed with her organisation and her way with the children. They are eating out of her hand. And she is really good with the parent helpers, has a box full of little activities for us to do with them, with instructions and props and everything. She is just wonderful.

Anyway, on Friday Fixit and I attended our first Open Morning with Cherub's Prep Class. This means the parents trundle in for an hour and find out what the kids have been up to. I should probably have guessed that K would excel in Open Mornings as in all her teaching endeavours. WE didn't just amble in and look at workbooks. Oh no. I mean, we did get to sit at their tables, which were all laid out with their work books, underneath a cheery checklist of all the things to do together including some hands-on activities. But first we watched an adorable performance of We're Going On A Bear Hunt, with K reading and the kids reciting along and doing suitable actions, (Cherub got to squelch the gumboots for the thick, oozy mud part, so proud) followed by a lovely song about Autumn Leaves -again with actions- and this time also singing. And I think I will squeeze in a quick plug here - or maybe it is more of an affirmation- and mention that I have a number of tap-dancing students in that class and they stood out noticeably for their fine work on the actions. If only my readership was closer to home I would be telling you right now that if you want your child to totally ace their preppy concert, you should absolutely send them to my tap dancing school.

You know, if that sort of thing is important to you.

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes.

Cherub is far more what I expected in a child of mine, scholastically speaking. It's not that Climber isn't equally bright but he's different. He's an absorber, a dreamer, a multi-tasker (examining the paperclip AND taking in every word of the story being read to him), he is shyer and more sensitive. And much more interested in swinging on the monkey bars than any classroom activity. So picture me, the girly swot mother, the academic high achiever, the quintessential teachers' pet, with her dreamy, climbing firstborn and you will see that I was puzzled by him and the way he rarely put his hand up in class. I really had to rethink my expectations. Cherub on the other hand, ticks all my boxes. He likes to sit up the front, he wants K to pick him and his hand goes up a LOT. His work is clearly good and there was lots of it to see, including actual finished stuff. It all made me think that it was lucky I had them in the order I did. If Cherub had been the first born I might have been too set in my ways and expectations to let Climber walk his own path.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bridges and tunnels.

waiting for the train_8249

I spoke to a friend of mine last week who works at a place that earns government bonuses for excellent management of their apprentices, which led me to check the Australian Government's Australian Apprenticeships website. Turns out there are rules and regulations for the employers of apprentices, which include having proper training plans for them, and mentors. So I got a bit fired up and said Fixit ought to have the day off on Friday and we'd follow up on a few things, like contacting his mate at another prominent airline maintenance employer and asking him for any help in maybe getting Fixit a job there, as well as ringing up the apprentice support centre. But I also wanted him to have it as a mental health day so we rang our GP and she arranged a Monday morning appointment. And that was this morning and Fixit ended up having a bit of a breakdown there and the upshot is that he'll be trying to see if some gentle medication won't help him manage, because having anxiety and depression is a bit of a double-whammy.

On the weekend we took the kids to the Diamond Valley Miniature Railway as a reward for them letting us sleep in till midday.


So on some levels we are just fine....


... and on others it's still pretty crappy.

in the tunnel_8266

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Imagine you are 8 years old.

Imagine that there is a bus shelter on the way to school with a big window for an advertisement.

Imagine that there is an advertisement put there recently featuring a deranged looking teenager, some policemen and a large headline stating ICE DESTROYS LIVES.

Would you, in the privacy of your mind, start to worry about this? Would you start to think, every time you passed it, about all the times you'd cheerfully put some water in a plastic container and put it in the freezer for a scientific experiment? It seemed all right at the time, putting lego in the water to see if you could make a lego ice cube but... but.. ICE DESTROYS LIVES. And would you wonder about all the times you'd just sucked on an ice cube? Would you start to wonder how many ice cubes you'd have had to suck before you ended up like the guy in the photo? Would you?

Do you think, remembering you are only 8, and would never have had time to read the fine print, that you might eventually have to ask your parents in a small, worried voice What does that ad mean?

Mmm. So did Climber. And I think he was rather relieved when I explained it to him.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I don't remember owning a Knitting Nancy when I was a child, so when I saw them for sale at a local toy shop - for less then $10 - I decided I wanted, no, needed to own one as a grown-up. My first attempt just wouldn't come through the middle of her, however many times I wound the wool around the loops and in and out. Then I took it to Family Lunch with the Fixits and Ma Fixit showed me where I'd gone wrong; you need to pull the wool all the way through before the loopy stuff begins up top, otherwise, as happened to me, you can't pull the knitted bit down and you get a nasty snarl-up in poor old Nancy's innards.

I found knitting with Nancy quite relaxing and easy to do, but after a while there was this very long string of french knitting hanging down and I had no idea what to do with it. A friend suggested woollen coasters as per School Knitting Grade 6 (round and round the garden, like a teddy bear), but in the meantime I discovered how to do proper knitting and poor Nancy and her long strand of variegated blue lay abandoned, probably forlornly.

Knitting Nancy_8244

And then I needed to make a mattress and quilt for a little Kewpie-Baby in a Box as part of a present for my niece's 4th birthday.

Baby Kewpie_8245

I'm hoping no-one inspects the quality of the sewing too closely, obviously. First attempt and all. But a miniature baby, in a pretty floral box, with french-knitted bedding will be a nice present for a 4-year-old methinks, and could probably be a good-seller at a school fete craft stall. I may have to patent it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day 09

Mothers Day 09_8219

The kids brought in some presents purchased with care from the school Mothers Day Stall (I'd primed them that soap and chocolate were the best options, in a bid to ward off crappy china figurines. Not to mention my two worst presents that somehow people used to give me ALL THE TIME: candles and/or foot lotion. Not that these things are terrible in themselves and I don't want to sound ungrateful or anything [but you know I was really], just I have a fear of candle-initiated housefires and I never use foot lotion. Foot massages: yes, foot lotion: no, no, no.) Plus there was a cup of tea in bed, followed by a sleep-in and let's not forget TWO cards each from the kids, two in English, two in Italiano. Molto buono.

And Fixit just arrived with some very lovely flowers.
Mothers Day Flowers_8220

Happy Mothers Day everyone.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Morning conversation at our place.

Oh no!
What random criminal would just walk into our backyard and deface it willy-nilly?!?!

Seriously. Who did he think it was?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wouldn't It be Luverly.

Dear Stomper Girl,

We are writing to inform you that you have just won an unfeasibly large sum of money. It will now be possible to hire a cleaning lady to take care of the awful mess in your house. Actually you can give up the crappy rental that you and Mister Fixit have never really liked and go buy your own house now, with proper bench space for cooking, and actual storage. Not to mention the full-length bath you've been dreaming of so long. You can, if you wish, buy a bigger car for family outings although you won't need to use it much seeing as you'll be living in a different suburb where you can walk everywhere. But Fixit will like it seeing as he won't have to work at the stress job and maybe then he will cheer up, and you can go, in comfort, on nice family outings to the beach or the snow or Daylesford. You can also afford a nice DSLR camera for taking stunning photographs of your beloved children and maybe a laptop so you can blog in bed (providing Fixit doesn't get too grumpy ...) and check the latest scrabble moves without being chained to the untidy and poky, not to mention cold, back room. You can probably afford to set up your own premises for tap classes as you'd want to keep up your dancing and all your nice students; that way you won't have to sweep up after the elderly Greek citizens every Monday and could leave all your equipment there instead of lugging it round in the back of the Corolla.

Your Daydream.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Back to Work.

school photos 09_8191

Fixit went back to work today. He's had one month off on annual leave after that first week of stress leave, and I think he has gradually relaxed into someone more like the Fixit we know and love. He's had two sessions with a counsellor which focussed on him realising the difference between the external (ie the work and TAFE situation) and the internal (the way he felt and thought about the work and TAFE situation). They talked about him not feeling that he had to be on top of it all and giving himself permission to be just the apprentice, to be the one who just learns stuff instead of the one who knows stuff. And of trying to think kindly about himself and to himself; less of the I shoulds.., I suppose. I should earn more, I should own a house, should, should, should.

Last night as he moved around the house readying himself for the 6.30am start I could almost see the mantle of stress, like a physical weight, settle on his shoulders. I could hear a familiar ugly note in his voice again, something I've not heard in 5 weeks. He was not shouting but the timbre of his voice changed, as if the stress had grabbed him round the vocal cords leaving him with a more guttural tone. It made me feel weary and defeated for a moment there.

I texted this morning and his 6.30am start was a waste of a good sleep-in. He was not actually rostered on to any crew, so in the end they told him to join the crew starting at 10am. Which couldn't start earlier because it was waiting for the plane to arrive. Fixit told me he was doing the crossword while he waited.

He was supposed to attend a "roster meeting" at 9.30am today in response to the letter we sent 2 months ago requesting regular day shifts. They'd rung 2 weeks ago to inform him of the meeting and were mildly flummoxed to learn he was on annual leave and couldn't attend the meeting time they'd scheduled. A case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, we think. They re-scheduled for the first day of his return, but somehow even that level of organisation was too much for them and he must now wait till Wednesday morning. Late last week the roster girl rang and said he'd only be doing day-shift for the duration of his second year of the apprenticeship. I took the call because Fixit was at a counselling session and neglected to ask the all-important question about whether day-shift meant weekends. So we are still up in the air. *edited to add that he and the other apprentices have been promised Monday - Friday day shifts, hurrah And the other apprentices thanked him today for that.

As we drove to a picnic on Sunday morning Fixit was already sinking into gloom and made a comment (that I don't recall now) which showed that he can't think AT ALL positively about his working life. So I gently said something along the lines that his natural tendency was to see the worst of any situation and that he needed to remind himself of the good things in his life. That we have a roof over our heads, food in our mouths, two terrific, healthy and happy little boys, each other. I can't help it, I am Pollyanna. After I'd run through a little list of good things about our life, my lovely Climber chirped up from the back-seat: And you have lovely friends too, Daddy. He even went on to name them. And Cherub, not to be outdone, said and you have a nice motorbike.