Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Playing Catch-up

We had a super visit to Queenscliff last week. I'm so lucky to have nice friends who invite us to stay with them in their (hired) holiday house! We stayed with Cherub's best friend, who is an only child; he was mostly delighted -and occasionally slightly overwhelmed- to have another 2 boys in his space for 48 hours straight. It gave him the full story of having a big brother (previously he had been very star-struck by Climber); on one hand they're so much fun and so cool, on the other hand they are completely bossy, and they will always be faster, bigger and know more, and will usually make sure you are aware of this. For Cherub, being slower, smaller and less knowledgeable is a way of life, the only one he knows. It makes him endearingly humble. And it irks him occasionally but mostly Climber is his Holy Grail, the one he wants to be with and tell things to. I find that whole sibling dynamic fascinating.


The boys had their hair cut yesterday. The good news is that Cherub no longer looks like a scarecrow (he was growing out the backyard hackjob I did on him when school swimming was on last year, the hairdresser said it wasn't too bad apart from being noticeably longer on one side) and you can see the Climber's eyes now, but we've kept the indy-rock-boy look fairly intact.

haircuts 005

Also yesterday, the lovely Stacey, aka Sheeps Clothing, and I put our matching sets of boys together at the playground at Birrarung Marr and they seemed to hit it off, shyness aside. As the 6 of us walked back towards town, we chanced on a free trapeze show in the City Square which was good fun.

city square trapeze 02

I finished off Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl and skipped through The Boleyn Inheritance and although I quite enjoyed them I had to go straight off and read Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time as an antidote to Tudor horridness.

For his birthday, I bought Climber the first 6 of the 39 Clues books, plus the 2 card packs. The final 4 books will be released this year. If you haven't heard about them, go here. As I sit here writing this, the Climber is beside me, completely immersed in the online component, solving clues and unlocking cards. He also started Book 1 last night and has read about a quarter of it. (And just by the by, Climber is still reading like a maniac and has powered through several Zac Powers, the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and the first of the Spiderwick Chronicles since Christmas)

Another birthday present, this one from my Dad, was a fiendish skateboard thing called a Rip-Stick, which instead of 4 fixed wheels -2 front and 2 back- only has one wheel at the front and one at the back, both of which are castor wheels. Climber seems to have the hang of it already, Fixit and I are too scared to even attempt it.

ripsticking 9

And a week of scooting around balancing on a pedal-less bike was more than what was required to finish the job of getting the Cherub riding a bike without trainer wheels. Today the 4 of us went down to the local school once more, but it was merely a formality. The Cherub had already worked out how to start himself off, and rode the whole way there, then proceeded to circle round the school ground at considerable speed, simultaneously talking and dinging the bell as he did so, for a good half hour. He only (slightly) crashed into a pole once.


I had dangled a reward in front of his eyes, a yellow Puffle no less, which spurred him on like you wouldn't believe. Especially because I already had it in the house - he kept going into my room to look at it, and during Climber's Party took all his friends, including Nell, into my room to show them. So here he is, with his haircut and his prize and his proud face: the Cherub, who Does Not Need Training Wheels.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Climber

The Climber: from Babyhood to Eight.
nought to eight

And then, today, he turned nine. Nine!

9th birthday 61

Compared to the Cherub's hyper-excited and counting down the days approach, the Climber has been super laid back about his impending birthday. Even this morning, the day itself, he calmly went about his morning business; a leisurely breakfast, a little stint on the computer; and it was left to me to say don't you want your presents?

Oh. Okay. Yes please.

9th birthday 033

He was very pleased with his haul, and was also heard to say this is going to be the best party ever! as the first guests arrived, even though in my head it wasn't actually a party. In my head I was calling it a gathering; Astrid, Jenny and crew from Mothers Group, Nell, our friend Malcolm, my Dad and Cherub's best mate. Because in my head, I had thought that the Climber (whose birthday falls in the summer holidays, meaning he never gets to have a party that is at all connected with his school or school friends) ought to have a proper outing/party this year and was going to organise a rock-climbing type affair for him when school started back. But while he's not averse to this idea he still really wanted a backyard party *ahem* gathering with mothers group friends and lolly bags and cake. And actually, just by telling myself it wasn't a party, just a gathering, I was far less stressed about pulling it all together and it was all very easy and a lot of fun.

9th birthday 42

And so now I have a nine year old. It's a little bit amazing and a lot wonderful. Just like him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

65 Roses and stuff

65 Roses quilt block

This is evidence of my first go at embroidery. One might also say I dipped my toe into some quilting. More like my toenail, really. I decided to join Whip.up's 65 Roses Quilt for Charity to aid Cystic Fibrosis (More info here). I'm not ecstatic about the final product but the deadline, as they have a habit of doing, snuck up on me and it had to be sent yesterday. I was on time with the deadline but then I had a crafting disaster: the embroidered square is supposed to be on the top left of your block but in my excitement of separating floss (got very tangled up when trying that until my friend Monica told me about the whole *put the other end in your mouth while you separate* trick which works a treat) and getting it all on the embroidery hoop, I forgot to check which way up and embroidered my flower stems on sideways. The deep red floss stained the cream square so unpicking wasn't really an option so I put it aside until I could reposition the charm squares with the sewing machine. Then school holidays got the better of me and suddenly it was the last day and I had to reposition and then do the last bit, the big flower, in a bang. So the big flower is definitely wonky and in desperation I put a button on to try and distract but I don't think it's quite worked. But maybe in a sea of other nice blocks it won't be too bad. Or they could ditch mine, I wouldn't blame them. But I thought I ought to finish what I said I'd do, and I enjoyed myself doing it except when I mucked it up, and may even have another crack at the embroidering stuff.

In other news I have been madly trying to get on top of all the administration for my tap school, which has meant rejigging the website. My upgraded version of web editor software, Dreamweaver, is forcing me to work with CSS (cascading style sheets for those of you not html savvy) which completely kicks my arse. I am used to just changing my font colour by clicking on the colour I want in the font colour box, now every time I change the colour (and my site is very colourful) I have to set up a freaking CSS and I don't know what I'm doing and it's killing me. I've also had to send out a mass of emails saying class starts back first week of February, which means making sure class lists and the address book are up to date (they mostly were). Plus there were management decisions to make, like splitting the middle-sized kids into beginner and intermediate, and putting up prices on the adult classes (it's been 3 years since I did it, but I still felt terrible about it.)

All in all I am VERY READY for some R&R, which is good because Cherub, Climber and I are off to Queenscliff for a couple of nights to stay with a friend. Poor Fixit is not allowed any time off in January (swear to God, the management at his work should be ashamed of themselves) and I just realised that we didn't even get the chance to say good-bye in person because he starts work at the crack of dawn and we were all still snoring away.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Have you ever seen the joke email which details the sad decline in the amount of parenting effort from firstborn to third born? It's one of those funny because it's close to the truth type jokes. Eg, with your firstborn you can't wait to get out of your ordinary clothes and into your maternity clothes, with your second child you try to stay in your everyday clothes as long as possible and by your third child your maternity clothes are your everyday clothes. You take your firstborn to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour, the 2nd baby to Baby Gymnastics and your third child to the supermarket and school pick-up.

(Mister Fixit, a third child)

So I'm pretty sure that our firstborn, aka The Climber, was taught to ride his bike without training wheels sometime between Kinder ending and School starting, because we would have been right on to all the developmental agendas for him, and maybe slightly worried that he'd feel bad if other kids could do it and he couldn't.

Of course, by the second child you are more relaxed and can send them off to school without really worrying about their bike-riding skills, fully realising that in fact bike-riding skills don't count for much in the scheme of school-readiness.

But despite being more relaxed about it, I have heard a little nag at the back of my brain for a good 6 months now: I really MUST teach that poor Cherub how to ride his bike without training wheels.

And finally, I got my act together and today was the day:


He didn't quite get it, but nearly.


The poor kid has been riding at an angle for the last year, due to the tilt of the bike on training wheels. Also, when I pull him along behind my bike, the Tail-gator system we use has a real tendency to work loose, which eventually puts the Cherub on a terrible angle. So this is what we were dealing with at first...


The trick today was getting him to sit up straight and by holding the back of his neck rather than the back of his seat we had some success.

learning toride80

(But we think this needs more reinforcement so when we got home Fixit prepped a spare bike for him to practice on by taking off the pedals so he can scoot - this helps them learn balance and steering.)


Once we realised what it was that he needed to get it right, the improvement was noticeable and there were a couple of brief moments when we were able to let go and he rode on his own.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Didn't we have a luverly time the day we went to err Queenscliff

On Saturday, during the build-up to the bad heatwave, we piled the 4 of us into Claude Corolla and tootled down to the seaside for a day-trip. Allegedly it was a sticky, hot day in Melbourne, but in Queenscliff the mild cool change had blown in leaving us with sun but no unpleasantness.


We met up with our friends who have taken a house there for the holidays and proceeded to spend the next 4 hours on the beach, and although it was not as stinkily hot as I usually require for ocean swimming, I made sure I plunged in several times because I am going to be all about the healing goodness of water immersion this year, oh yes I am.


That evening we took the families to Point Lonsdale for fish 'n chips and a play at the rockpools, only to find that we had our tides all wrong and the rockpools were thoroughly covered by a high tide splashing up against the sea wall. And despite the 4 hours we'd already had at the beach, the kids were of course desperate to get back into the water again and only the fact that their hopeless parents had neglected to bring swimmers or towels (we thought it would be dinner and rockpools!) stopped them from having another proper swim. Climber was already wet from the waist down by the time I made it down to the sand and realised what was happening, so we could only rescue his shirt for the ride home. But the younger boys stripped down to their undies and they all frolicked in the shallows, flinging handfuls of sand at seagulls. And if there is anything cuter than a little kid running round in undies on the beach, well I don't know what it is.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

That hardly EVER happens.

The Cherub, who was so worried about swallowing his first ever wobbly tooth, swallowed his first ever wobbly tooth this morning.

He didn't even notice. It was just that I had looked at it 5 minutes prior and said That tooth is ready to fall out. Go on, give it a pull, that'll definitely come out. But he balked, claiming it was *too slippery*. Then he ate his bowl of cereal, and halfway through, came to tell me something and I noticed the gap.


Tears, a futile search in the bowl of nutri-grain. I knew instantly he'd swallowed it but he was so upset that we had to have a little look, just in case. Climber even checked under the table for us.

My suggestion that the Tooth Fairy might be able to fly down his throat in the middle of the night, if he left his mouth open, and retrieve it, just made matters worse and nearly caused hysterics. So in the end we said we'd write a note. And eventually, he started to cheer up.


Ironically, when Cherub had his wobbly about his wobbly tooth, this was the exact conversation we'd had, just before he went to sleep, because he was still in a bit of a state:

Cherub: I don't want to swallow my too-oo-ooth.
Me: Oh that hardly ever happens. Climber, how many teeth have you lost?
Climber: Umm...8.
Me: And how many have you swallowed?
Climber: None.
Me: There you go Cherub, nothing to worry about.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

How to brighten up a bad room.

Well. First I had to find some willing artists. Oh look, here's one.


Then I put them to work.


I think you'll find the grand design works on artistic levels...


...but the railway engineers might pick a few holes in the track layout.

le artistes

All that was left to do was hang the artwork.

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Ta-da! Our fabulous, one-of-a-kind, designer shower curtain. Guaranteed to cheer up the ugliest, pokiest bathroom, which would be ours. When I showed it to Fixit he didn't even twig that we'd drawn it ourselves.

Here's the official blurb and here's the link.
"Ty is a simple #2 plastic shower curtain. Unlike other shower curtains made of vinyl, Ty will not off-gas in your home. Also unlike vinyl, Ty breathes – making it less likely to grow gross mold and mildew. Ty is stronger than vinyl and will last a very long time, then it can be recycled."

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Start as you mean to go on.

Being Brave Part I

New Year's Eve saw me venturing out of the house, past the verandah, and onto the front lawn to properly observe the illicit fireworks being set off around my suburb and the spectacular light show provided by Mother Nature in the form of a great big electrical storm. I am phobic about thunderstorms so this was really quite brave of me, but it must be admitted that when it really kicked in I (a) squeaked and (b) retreated to the verandah.

nye wildsky 77NYE wildsky082

Being Brave Part II

My cousin, who lives in a house that backs on to the Yarra River, invited the boys and me round for lunch and a kayak today.

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I could hear my last year's self thinking that I could just sit on the jetty and watch my cousin take the boys for a paddle (someone needs to mind the boys, I don't know what I'm doing, I don't really need to do it)...


...but I reminded myself about my New Year's Resolution. I didn't want to come home and think I wish I'd had a go. So after insisting that both boys wore their life-jackets because I was leaving them to play on the jetty without adult supervision (Please be CAREFUL!)...


...I hopped in and kayaked off with my cousin behind me. Not once, but twice; we all had 2 turns. The second time I found a rhythm and could feel my abs and arms starting to work, but I'm still too wussy to want to do it alone. (It's a steering thing.) We even picked some wild blackberries from the river's edge.

Climber told me when I returned that he'd taken some photos but they seem to have mostly been of either just water or there was quite a good one of a pair of strangers going past in a rowboat.