Friday, October 30, 2009

Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain

I've been working away for a while now on a Crafty Project. I know, who'd've thunk it? But the lively and lovely Trashalou emailed me one day and asked did I want to join a rainbow swap, and I thought why not? One, I like rainbows, so I thought I could come up with plenty of ideas. Two, I've looked on enviously from the sidelines (so to speak) as crafty bloggers everywhere either made or received gorgeous things in blog-swaps. I wanted to come to that party.

I love rainbows. I love working through the spectrum, I love saying roy-ja-biv as my little memory aid (RedOrangeYellowGreenBlueIndigoViolet). So I used the idea of those colours, in that order as the base for all my projects.

My first item was a book cover. Version II of this one. I used a much easier plain black fabric to make the cover and embellished it with rainbow felt.

rainbow book cover 419 inside flap 416

My second item was bunting. There is something so cheerful about coloured flags hanging above your head. I'd seen someone else's bunting and they'd made it with pinking shears and stitching over the top which I could see meant it would be very quick and easy to whip up, but I didn't really like how it looked. So despite being a very novice at this sewing thing I went the whole hog & sewed my triangles together inside out and then turned them. I had quite lot of help, firstly talking through the mechanics with Jenny, who also assisted with stash (she runs her school's fete craft stall and everyone gives her fabric so she was quite glad to give some of it away), and then from Nell (and spasmodically the kids) who kept me company me as I sewed a billion triangles, and was very good with suggestions and advice and turning the triangles out and ironing them.

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I also folded some masu boxes in rainbow spectrum and then nested them. I'm not sure what practical use they'll have but it seemed a pretty, if frivolous, idea. I used them to hold a bit of trim which said celebrate in rainbow colours.

masu boxes

Then I put together a Rainbow cd...


My last great project, and possibly the one I'm proudest of, was the rainbow apron. Cherub's adorable teacher let me take some buttons from her class stash so I had a rainbow spectrum of cute buttons. With these I decided to use the rest of the black fabric and a fat quarter in rainbow stripes to make an apron. I took my ingredients (is there a better crafty word than that?) and my ideas to Jenny, and she said it was good and would work and she supervised me and advised on correct ordering of sewing. But the apron is my own (very simple) design and is therefore my favourite of my crafted children.

VioletIndigoBlueGreenYellowOrangeRed :: mirror shot so it appears reversed.

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Here's the finished products just before posting. I was giving to the lovely Jan from Sewjourn, and she emailed me the instant she received them with kind words.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Got the sun in the morning and the moon at night

Joining in once more with the What's Hot and What's Not Wednesday from Loobylu.

What's Not:

Kids without manners. I had to take one to task recently for speaking rudely to me in my house. I said, fairly mildly, do you think that is a good way to speak to someone else's mummy? and he looked shamed and said No. Then I said When you come to my house you speak nicely to me. Not that he was that bad, just he spoke to me like I was his mother and I'd said something stupid to him. My kids aren't allowed to take that tone with me, buggered if I'll put up with other people's children doing it. I think I'm putting a blanket ban on playdates on the nights I teach tap, otherwise I can't quite shake off my irritation in time to be fresh and smiling for class. Unless I know the other child is well-mannered, obviously.

What's Hot:

Finally getting round to buying frames so that I can display some new artwork, including the Judy Horacek print from my siblings (over 2 years ago!) and this lovely photograph sent to me by the talented and generous Mary. Isn't it divine? I can't tear my eyes away from it.

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Having a cleaning lady. It's so ace I can't believe it. People keep asking me is she good? and I have to say that actually I did a better job. But she is lovely, she charges less than anyone else I know of and the point is I Don't Want To Do It so I don't actually care if stuff is gleaming. It's clean, that's good enough. Also. When I floated the cleaning lady argument with Fixit ages ago I mentioned that not having to do the fortnightly toilet cleaning/vacuuming drudgery would free up my time and energy so that I would finally get around to neglected tasks like sorting out cupboards and boxes and stuff. I wasn't actually sure if this would be true, but turns out I was right, and nasty corners of my home are being put right, bit by bit. (By the by, I've just re-read that post with the excellent Get-The-Cleaning-Lady comments you all left and have the biggest smile now. You guys rock.)

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The Guy. My Mac computer died but one word to The Guy and I have a newer improved G5 Mac with all the stuff from the G4 and lots of new space and gizmos, in return for some tap tuition for his charming son. Gotta love The Guy. And the barter system.

Spring! Sunshine and drying the laundry in one day and smelling honeysuckle when I get to tap and cutting lovely roses from our garden.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

You know that thing when?

... you tell everyone how much you like your hair and it suddenly stops doing those fabulous soft curls and goes kind of lank and straight?

... one of your blog readers is also one of your tap students and her class is that same evening that you just bragged about your great hair and she says, completely deadpan, so your hair is looking fabulous and then you get roolly embarrassed but you also get the giggles for the rest of the evening?

... the door slams really hard onto your finger nail and it hurts so much you can't speak and then everyone keeps asking you what happened, what's wrong? and won't stop until you tell them that you hurt-yourself-so-badly-you-can't-speak?

Also in the news. It was Nell's birthday so she came round for roast beef with Yorkshire puddings (as did my sister who happened to be in town that day) and birthday cake. Yum.

nell's birthday

Cherub is still into dressing up. Hurrah!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hot and Cold

I'm joining in with the What's Hot What's Not meme from Loobylu. I'm going to do What's Not first though because I like to end on a happy note.

What's Not.

My computer, the Mac, has gone phut. I hope it's not terminal (I'm too scared to try it myself) because it was not backed up. I know. I was trying to back it up but it needed an upgrade before I could do that and my friend The Guy had to move house first.

My phone. I admit I bought it because it was almost purple but now I hope it breaks so I can go back to the brand I liked. Stupid and annoying software takes me twice as long to do anything. Probably will last for ever just to spite me.

Putting on weight and getting old lady arms. It just doesn't seem fair with my moderate eating and drinking habits and my regular exercise but old age is a bitch. I kinda know why it's happened too, it's because I spend large chunks of my day in front of the computer. I am on a campaign to amend this. There are push-ups involved.

What's Hot.

Going out to dinner last Saturday with my girlfriends Astrid, Jenny and Lana to eat seriously good Italian food in fabulous company. I tried a goat dish which came with soft polenta - Astrid has been singing the praises of soft polenta over hard polenta for some time and now that I've tried it I am pretty sold on it and looking for recipes. From what I've read so far I foresee a fair bit of whisking, which will be good for my arms. (see What's Not)

Fixit progressing through the various stages of the Big Job Application. The applications are handled by a recruitment company to weed out 80% of applicants, then the employer makes the decision from the 20% left standing. So far (and we're still with the recruitment company) Fixit has made it to Round 3. We've had Round 1; apply online with kickarse letter and cv, Round 2 sit an online personality test, honestly what a crock those things are, and Round 3 last night was a phone interview and he thinks that went well; it was all why do you want to work for this company and what would you do in a go-wrong situation at work and stuff like that. If he gets through that it will be an online technical aptitude test. Fingers crossed.

My hair. It is just looking so nice at the moment that I keep expecting people to comment on it. (They never do). Seriously though, I've got the best hair I've ever had in my life and I am sick in love with it. Beyond having a good hairdresser I don't do anything to it except wash & condition it. I only brush it if I'm going somewhere posh ie hardly ever. I actually think pregnancy changed my hair for the better (and then child-rearing took some of it away by adding some grey) because since children I have lovely cascading loose auburn curls which look like Hollywood hair except I put in NO effort and I'm sorry to brag about it here but you can blame my everyday people who keep not noticing causing me to put a pathetic boast about it on my blog. Also I can't take a good photo of it so you just have to take my word for it.

Taking the boys out of school early so that we could see the Pompeii Exhibition at Melbourne Museum without the crowds. Cherub was probably a little young for it (there was whining) but Climber and I really enjoyed it and now I wish I could go and see the real thing. The body casts were so tragic, but other stuff was quite amazing, the jewellery and the cooking equipment. I also really loved reading the graffiti, so much funnier than tagging. I came home and looked up a full list of the graffiti, clearly the curators decided to go with just the family friendly stuff. (I did not see this one for example : Restituta, take off your tunic, please, and show us your hairy privates. . Such manners, note the "please"!) You are not allowed to take pictures in the exhibition so don't, like I did, bring your big heavy camera if you are going, and it closes on Sunday so you'd better be quick.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Bits and Pizzas

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The big boy's enthusiasm for cooking continues unabated, fired up by learning how to make damper when away on camp. (And just as a quick aside, this link for damper information amused me; the assertion that informal Australian gatherings OFTEN feature damper served somewhere on the table had me convinced I've been moving in the wrong social circles for my entire life. I HAVE ONLY EVER EATEN DAMPER AT CAMP.) Anyway, because I see long-term gain in encouraging Climber's interest in cooking I agreed to help him whip up both pancakes for breakfast and home-made pizza including the pizza base for dinner, not just in a single weekend but in a single day. If you count the sandwich I had at lunch then all I ate all day... was dough. You can see the finished result here, and I think you'll agree that Mister Fixit's assertion that there is no such thing as too much cheese is wrong wrong wrong. But still, we are calling our first attempt a success and will learn from our mistakes.

Also. Check out the Cherub's new shoes. They feature a fire engine motif complete with red and blue lights which flash on every step he takes. I remember Climber had a pair of purple light-up shoes when he was two-ish, of which I was deeply jealous. Poor Cherub had to wait till he was 6 but I think he appreciates their magic more. He is pretty much the happiest child in the world at the moment and was busting to take them to school to show his friends. I saw his little gang doing timed-laps of the play equipment not long after we arrived, testing out the go-fastness of the new shoes. He informed me as we walked towards line-up that the only person who could run faster was Climber, and that's obviously about the legs not the shoes.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sartorially Speaking

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I would say that, on the whole, my boys are not really fussy about what they wear, regardless of whether they or I have picked out the daily apparel. Their main requirement for clothing is that the pants don't fall down, and we have to apply the Jump Up And Down test fairly regularly to several trouserly items. If I tried to get them to dress in shirts with, say, collars, or worse, buttons, I might encounter a few more objections, but by and large, they don't care.

However. Neither of them are that keen to wear their tap-dance shirts. They know we have to wear them on performance days but for the rest of the year those shirts sit forlornly in the drawer. The boys will wear it as a uniform but not as an advertising opportunity. Luckily, not all my tap students feel that way.

Tap Tees.

On Sunday morning I selected outfits for the boys to wear at the performance, only to find that Cherub, in ignorance of the day's schedule, had already dressed himself. I explained about the show, and asked him to put on the shorts (it was hot) and his tap dance shirt. He commenced changing clothes without fuss but insisted on taking off the socks and jocks he was wearing and replacing them with different ones. When I said he didn't need to go that far, he insisted he did. Turns out he had picked out the entire outfit with a special theme and purpose and so therefore all those items had to be worn together. They were: a Lightning McQueen (from Cars) shirt, some soldier trousers, some Lightning McQueen undies and some socks with Dash (from The Incredibles). That's right. Just as my little brother always firmly believed that stripes made him go faster, now my son thinks if he wears clothes featuring speedy stuff, he will be able to beat all his mates in a running race. Go-Fast Couture.

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Or, as Cherub called them, Go-Fast Undies and Go-Fast socks. I just love that more than I can say.

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These pics of Cherub (still wearing his Non-Go-Fast outfit) were taken on Sunday afternoon, after the show and after a little friend's 4th birthday party where the lolly bag at the end included a pirate eye-patch, a treasure map and a mini telescope, which meant the Cherub was inspired to drag out his pirate hat and have a fine old pirate game on the front verandah. I, of course, grabbed the camera to capture the action, at which he was suddenly determined to exchange the tap-dance shirt for another. I talked him out of it on the grounds of "Laundry", but you know, really, don't you, that I'm just looking for any opportunity to fly my flag.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Station Street Festival 2009

Station Street Fiesta, Sunday 11th October, 11.30am to midday.
18 kiddy tappers, 3 grown-up tappers, one roadie (Nell), one official photographer (Fixit), 10 routines (if you think I look sweaty in these shots that's because I was! But bear in mind that I had to dance all ten of those routines), 3 stage invasions (all by the same kid who was 2 but clearly thought his place was up with the very professional big kids -average age 8- who danced round him while his father looked helplessly on.) No technical hitches, no major mistakes beyond one of the Tap-pets knocking my hat out of my hands just before the tricky hat throw and ending. Still, made us laugh. A good show.








Sunday, October 11, 2009



This is how the Climber looked when he returned from camp. His skin appeared almost see-through, he was so tired. He said he had a good time, but further questioning revealed a bit of stress about the cabin-sharing side of things. Six 8-9 year-olds without direct supervision, it would take a miracle if things didn't get hyped-up and crazy, but Climber, aka Master Sensitive, found it extra hard. He is the sort of kid who actually needs a fair bit of time on his own. Having said that, shipping them off to camp is partly about them learning to stand on their own 2 feet, and I think he did all right. He just came home looking shattered. But on the up side, he adored all the daytime activities, so I think we're calling it a success.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

M'sieur Le Fix

Today is Mister Fixit's birthday which he celebrated by getting up at the crack of dawn and going off to work. Boy does that guy know how to party.

The only vaguely celebratory touch to his morning was the card from Climber which I left out on the kitchen table for him, because the card's artist/author is currently panning for gold and whizzing down enormous flying-foxes at his first ever school camp. This is him yesterday, waiting to go, and I only got slightly anxious as he left, mostly because he seemed to be hanging with the problem kid and the gifted kid (nice but demanding & exhausting) and also he sat on his own on the bus (behind those two) and it's a long drive to camp. But camp is, I suppose, about growing up and fending for yourself so I took my anxieties quietly home with me, only to find the spoon I should have sent for his yoghurt leering at me from the kitchen bench.

happycampers 549
(the other boy in the photo is a nice friend whose mother is one of my best friends and occasionally reads here which is why I've included him)

Meanwhile, the only child and I overslept (well mostly me, Cherub says he was awake and waiting for me & the absent Climber to wake up; come and get me next time why don't you?) to 8.40am, which is 15 minutes past the time we've usually left for school. Yikes! Somehow we scrambled our way into arriving at school a mere 10 minutes after the 9 o'clock bell had rung, impressive what?

Tonight, Fixit and Cherub will have a little party together because I will be off teaching and Climber is away on camp, and I feel bad about this so I am baking buttermilk spice cake. All is forgiven when you bake buttermilk spice cake.

And in other news Fixit and I are in the process of trying to do the sort of kickarse job application letter which is, we hope, the solution to these woes. I don't want to be too specific on this here blog, but we need a cover letter that would be able to bypass the recruitment company employed to weed out the 80% of duds and pass on the cream to the actual employer. And when I say Fixit and I are working on this application, I actually mean us AND some friends and family, who have willingly come to our aid with extremely helpful advice and actual rewrites. Thank you thank you, beautiful people (and your husbands).

I leave you with evidence of the hailstorm we had yesterday...

Hail 217

... and pictures of Mister Fixit's birthday present.


It's clothes again of course. I am wholly responsible for his fashionisto pretensions, and although you wouldn't believe how hot he looks in a pair of overalls, I am sure that these shirts would be a much better option for being seen out in public. The boys are giving him the Transformers shirt, natch.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Festival of Cherub.

This is my theory about parties for small children. Give them friends, food and room to run and they will manage the fun. Providing them with any additional entertainment is lovely, but you don't need to do it. On Sunday, the penultimate event of the Festival of Cherub took place in a park with 18 or so children, who were, for the most part, beautifully behaved and no trouble. They ran around the equipment playing their little hearts out, and came back to the food table to graze when in need of refreshment. They gathered for the birthday cake ritual, then went back to playing until their parents came to collect them. After two weeks of school holidays I think they were all overjoyed to see each other, judging by the hugging and the happy interacting. Apart from knocking myself out the day before with baking frenzy, and picking up the broken glass from the playground when we arrived I had very little to do on the day.

Well, apart from managing a couple of my party guests, who teamed up as a unit outside the rest of the guests. I was quietly relieved to hand them back to their parents after these 3 incidents:
  1. Early on, they strayed out of the designated area and began a rock throwing game and when asked to come back they (a) argued about having to do so and (b) tried to smuggle some rocks into their pockets. At least this gave me the heads-up that they needed extra supervision.
  2. Halfway through, they got into an altercation with a non-party child who had a few boundary issues of his own. I ended up taking non-party child over to his parents and saying I'm very sorry, one of my party guests has bitten your child but I believe there was hitting on both sides and suggesting delicately that perhaps they'd like to to keep an eye on their offspring. I didn't mention that he'd been coming over helping himself to party food, you can't blame him really.
  3. Just as all children were to be collected and taken home the 2 boys disappeared and gave me a heart attack. Luckily they had not gone far and I found them before the parents returned.

I'd recently read a comment from someone who claimed she spent $50 total -including catering- on childrens parties, which I found very difficult to believe, but it inspired me to see if I could cut costs. I always bake most of my own party food but I chose cordial over fizzy for the drink option and padded out the savoury options with popcorn. Plus I managed a deal with the Willy Wonka of Blogland for the lollybags, and these were so good that Climber looked up at me in the midst of helping Cherub write the labels for them and said seriously Can we have Shula for my party too?


The ultimate event in the Festival of Cherub was cupcakes for the class, first day back at school. Due to being completely wiped out by the morning's party and needing an afternoon nap to refresh myself, I didn't start baking these until 8.30pm Sunday night. They weren't the best batch I'd ever made, but I received only thanks and no complaints from the school next day.

Cherub has thoroughly enjoyed the Sixth Birthday Bonanza and thank you to everyone for their birthday wishes.

Next stop, Festival of Fixit.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Small Boy gets Bigger

cherub turns 6

It is Cherub's sixth birthday today. I can't believe it because six sounds quite grown-up.

cherub turns 6

And in a lot of ways he is pretty grown up. He can dress himself, buckle himself into the car, read and write and do sums. His cleverness astonishes us daily.

cherub turns 6

But then, he's still my baby in many ways. For example, I took the boys to see the movie Up today and he was sufficiently scared by it to crawl into my lap and stay there for most of the movie. And then as we walked back to the car he tucked his little hand in mine, and I thought, as I always do when I hold his small sweet hand, how holding hands with my children makes me happy to the very core of my being, and how I am really going to miss it when, like his older brother, he starts to grow away from me.

cherub turns 6

But six, hey? What a great thing. Our little comedian, our cheeky, chirpy, chatty, charming Cherub, our smoochy, cuddly, affectionate boy with the crazy sense of fun. Happy birthday to you.