Thursday, February 25, 2010

Balls of Steel.

Mister Fixit rang me last night to tell me that he was okay but that he'd had a bit of a bingle on his way home from TAFE. He had rear-ended a car, and the motorbike had flipped under him causing him to go flying over the handlebars. He would have been completely fine (he tucked and rolled) except that as he sailed over the top of his bike he clipped one of the bike's mirrors so hard that it snapped off. That's gotta hurt you're probably thinking and yes I think it did hurt, particularly because the part of him that whacked that mirror so-hard-that-it-fell-off was his balls.

Now. You know how men are babies when they whack themselves in the knackers? Well, Fixit's adrenaline was running so high that despite the massive blow to his privates, he got straight up, assured all the other cars that he was fine, picked up his bike and got it off the road, picked up all the snapped-off bits of bike lying on the road, exchanged driver details with the car he'd hit and rang me to organise collection whilst only really registering that he had a bit of a stomach-ache.

Anyway. A couple of hours later, when he'd arrived home after all the palaver of getting the bike to a mechanic, we had a look and the damage was fairly awesome. Swelling and bruising doesn't quite convey the full picture so to help you with your mental image, let me say: Black (Inky black. All over. All. Over) and: Tennis ball. (Maybe even a bit bigger than a tennis ball, almost softball size.) You're welcome. Obviously we're not showing them anywhere but we just had to take photographs - his idea not mine - because despite the fact that he is now very sore and for the next fortnight I will be in no danger of being pestered for marital relations and he will be walking like a cowboy, the whole area is freakily impressive, in a very bad way. And the good news is there's no haemorrhaging or other problems, and as lots of people said to me, we had finished making children anyway.

So that, my friends, is the story of Ironballs Fixit. And he's not allowed to do it again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So You Think You Can Sew

I made a skirt! I did. I bought a book, called Sew What! Skirts by Francesca DenHartog which guides you through all the requisite sewing techniques and gets you to draft your own pattern that exactly fits your measurements. It's a lovely book, with great instructions that I could mostly comprehend and follow, and once I've mastered the basics, the possibilities will be endless, she said confidently.

skirt side-on bunchiness

I decided to try the A-line skirt with elastic waist, thinking I'd do a really simple practice one first off, but then I couldn't help myself and added a lace trim round the bottom and a pretty fabric for the waistband. In a fit of madness I also decided that putting interfacing inside the waistband would be a good idea as it would make the waistband nice and stiff, but luckily my interfacing was old and came off fairly easily when I half sewed it up and discovered that the last thing you want in an elasticated waist is stiffness.

skirt front on

The waistband instructions were a bit beyond my non-technical brain but luckily I have Jenny on hand with her sewing nous and limitless patience and encouragement. And now that I've mastered *cough* the elastic waistband I'm pretty sure I'll try and get over my fear of zip-sewing because I'm not all that keen on how the elastic waist looks. If you can look past my dazzling model poses you may notice some bunchiness. Being Pollyanna I have put my faith in giving it a good wash and amazingly curing the problem. I love a miracle cure, me.

skirt looking weird

Also. I learned to stitch in the ditch which sounds a bit posh and roolly professional, and the second time I sewed the waistband this technique was coming along nicely. Truly it was. Well, except for a tiny bit at the front of this photo natch. Obviously if I was being graded on this skirt I'd lose major points there, but I'm fairly certain no-one will notice it in real life.

skirt close up

And nobody but me need ever see the abysmal job I made of hand-sewing the gap where the elastic was inserted. Possibly sewing as I sat in the car half-watching Cherub's tennis lesson was not the best idea, live and learn.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Come on, Climber!

Tuesday was Climber's first ever swimming carnival, and I went along as a parent helper, which involved shepherding the kids as they walked to the pool, and reminding them every 5 minutes to put their hats and shirts back on. (It was quite surprising how often we had to say it.)

The kids have to be in Grade 4 or above, and able to swim 50 metres, to volunteer for the school swimming carnival. When the PE teacher first announced it to Climber's class and asked who wanted to participate, Climber refused, on the grounds that he didn't think he could cope with it being competitive - chiefly, I suspect, because he knows he's the sort of kid who desperately minds (and could easily cry) if he does badly, and obviously nobody wants that sort of shame or misery. In complete ignorance of this, I read the announcement in the school newsletter and got all enthusiastic, because I know he's quite a good swimmer, and in my head school swimming carnivals were a fun day out. I was therefore very surprised when he said he wasn't going to do it; the result of which was him having a little breakdown, because then he felt dreadful about letting me down. But we talked it through - several times - and agreed that (a) he was a good swimmer and ought to give it a go and (b) it would be impossible to disappoint me, even if he fell in at the start of the race and had to be pulled out with a net.

On the day he made me burst with pride. He made the finals of all the events he tried (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke), even though he was competing against boys who were generally 8-14 months older than him. And he got 4th place in the backstroke final, which gave him the all-important and much coveted ribbon. Then he got 3rd in the diving, and another ribbon. He was happy, I was over the moon. I'm pretty sure I was also the most embarrassing parent at the event, actually standing at the end of the pool yelling Go Climber while the other parents sat more sedately in their chairs to cheer.

4th in backstroke

But with any luck they won't ban me from coming next year.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Climbers

How was your Valentine's Day? Mine was really romantic, I went to an indoor rock climbing centre with 6 children, 3 other adults, 3 cars (our friends helped out with transport, couldn't squash all those kids into the Corolla) and some party food for afterwards, because we had a Climbing Party for the Climber. And friends. For the first time ever, I organised an "outing" type party for him, to make up for the fact that he rarely has school friends to his birthday parties owing to his birthday falling at the end of the long summer holidays.


The kids were all excellently well behaved and just generally lovely. They also were really good climbers. Even the more nervous among them were shinnying up those sheer rock-faces like Spiderman. It was quite amazing.


It's my opinion that there is actually a specific "Climbing Gene" which obviously runs strong in The Climber. There were 2 other party guests with monkey genes, so they and Climber soon graduated to the extra-extra-high walls and got themselves to the top, over and over again. But even the non-natural climbers were great, and I think surprised themselves with how much they could do. And being children none of them seemed to be at all sore and sorry the next day. It's good to be young.

rock climbing party 041

I wasn't sure how Cherub would go with it, initially he seemed to think it would only be a big boy activity but we told him it was for him too, and the next thing we knew he was scaling walls with enthusiasm and finesse, and pretty much commandeering Fixit for his own personal belaying use. So although he never climbed out of his cot till he was over 3, (Climber could get out at a very young age whilst wearing one of those sleeping sacks; very funny) it seems the Cherub has the Climbing DNA too.

rock climbing party 024

The other adults (one instructor, Fixit, the mum of a party guest and one friend of Fixit's) were The Belayers while I roamed free with the camera and the drinks. Fixit's good friend Mick is a keen climber himself, so asking him to come along and help was a very good decision. He was really good at all the rope-y stuff and even better at coaching the kids up. For example, the rope ladder, he just kept calling out Two hands up, two feet up. Hand, hand. Foot, foot. It was great.

(Three Fixits; Mister Fixit belaying Climber half way up an enormous wall, while Cherub climbs the rope ladder)

Climbing centres have very good safety procedures in place, although I'm pleased to report not one child fell off the wall. However, as we left the premises after food and cake, Cherub started to choke on a giant lolly snake. I now know why they're called Killer Pythons. But after a lot of back-slapping, attempted heimlichs and much coughing up of slimy blue gelatinous matter, Cherub survived to tell the tale.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spoiled again

I forgot to show my belated Christmas present from Mister Fixit - I mean besides the super sewing toolbox/organiser that arrived on Christmas Day, and can I just tell you that Mister Fixit is pretty much the perfect person to buy a toolbox-y /organiser-y type of present. It's a seriously good box! But anyway, this other, belated, present was laid before me on the last day of January, just as we got back from our Canberra visit. Fixit tells me that the framing dude had sworn confidently that he could get it done by Christmas but then had run into difficulties.

Okay, 'nuff history - here is what he gave me dadadaDAH:

teatowel art

I think I squealed with joy when I saw them. There may have been tears too. They just look so ace. (You can see a larger version here.)

Inside the frames are gorgeous tea-towels, featuring self-portraits of each child's 4-year-old Kindergarten class. Climber's year is bright blue, and his portrait was quite advanced, featuring arms sprouting from the body not the head, and proper fingers and feet and even stripes on his shirt. Cherub's is a rich royal purple (which hasn't shown up so much in this shot, but is lovely in real life) and his was just a headshot with magnificent curls; completely fair enough because at 4-years old, Cherub was defined by his lovely curls. The teatowels had been lying folded in my chest of drawers for ages - I could never quite bring myself to use them as grotty old dish rags so I put them aside. Then before Christmas I mentioned to Fixit that I really wanted to get them framed, and he ran with it, and surpassed himself.

My next thing is to work out hanging them. Our house has picture rails which I don't really understand. The hanging string is about a quarter of the way down the picture, and the only picture rail hooks I've seen slip on top of the rail which means the top of the picture is higher than the rail. Is that how it is supposed to look? Or can you get a picture rail hook that lets you hang the picture on or below the level of the rail?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


In medical news just to hand, I've been vaccinated for swine flu this year - my lovely GP offered it to me while I was in getting a script for my underactive thyroid, because of my working with young children status. It didn't hurt at all.

Also, while I was there I said can you please check out my warts so that I know they're warts before I apple-cider-vinegar them? While she was inspecting them I joked I was turning into a warty old lady.

She said those two are not exactly warts. They are seb0rrh0eic kerat0sis. Have you ever seen an old man's chest? I said not in living memory. She said in hospitals you see quite a lot of old men with lots of what look like squashed sultanas on them. Then she showed me a perfectly disgusting picture. Here's the link. ONLY FOLLOW IT IF YOU WANT TO BE GROSSED OUT! She then offered to freeze them off with liquid nitrogen and I practically fell over in my hurry to accept this offer.

It's bad enough turning into a warty old lady, I definitely don't want to turn into a warty old man.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Saga of the Lost Sandal

One of the nice things that happened during our Canberra visit was a catch-up with my friend Michelle. She and I were second-best friends in Grade 5 and 6, and absolute best friends in Years 11 & 12 and beyond. We drifted apart for some in-between years - she lived overseas for a while and I moved to Melbourne - but we always kept in loose contact. And then, like complete dags, we reconnected on facebook. Which is so corny but actually really nice.

(Michelle's 21st, the 2 of us with awful 80s hair. Yes, my fringe - and only my fringe- was permed)

Anyway, on the Friday afternoon of our Canberra visit, Michelle came and collected the boys and me, and took us to her house. There we hung out with 3 of her 4 children, and Michelle's Mum, who immediately kissed my children like they were her great-nephews; which when you think of the years that I was like a spare daughter in their house, they sort of are.

(21 years later, the 2 of us at Michelle's house)

Then Michelle drove us all back to Bronnie's house and at that stage we cracked open the wine. Michelle's youngest, who is in-between my 2 boys' ages, was by this time feeling very much at home with Climber and Cherub, and along with Bron's kids they all disappeared for some backyard fun. The next thing we knew Bronnie had magically produced an extra plate of kiddy-dinner and the 5 kids sat down happily at the table. Meanwhile Michelle and I sat on Bronwen's front verandah, drinking wine and trading confidences and just being like the 2 besties from years ago, except that we didn't talk really fast pig-latin to each other which we used to do on the bus when we wanted to try and impress people or discuss boys. But we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves, while Bron kindly managed the children.

However. It is my considered opinion, that whilst trampolines are an excellent thing in general, they do have a high incidence of Play That Ends In Tears. And with 4 of the 5 kids playing on the trampoline, it did not really surprise me to hear wails emanating from it eventually. Predictably, it was the smallest member of the bouncers who was wailing, my 4yo niece.

And this is where the saga of the lost sandal begins.

Now, we had to piece this together and it was all very confused at the time but here's the flowchart

Niece wailing :: Caused by Climber bouncing really close to her with intent to knock her over :: Caused by his anger at her deliberately throwing his shoes over the back fence :: Caused by her thinking it funny that Michelle's boy had just accidentally lobbed Cherub's shoe over back fence :: Caused by Michelle's boy being amused at Climber throwing his shoes around on the trampoline.
Cause and effect, Climber, cause and effect.

When the adults came outside to sort it, it looked a bit like this: Three mums trying to get a straight story out of wailing or angry or guilty or worried-about-shoes children, Bronnie comforting the crying daughter, Michelle and I standing on the edges of the trampoline peering into the neighbour's very overgrown backyard, attempting to direct operations, meaning that Climber was sent over the fence to retrieve his 2 shoes and have another *proper* look for Cherub's sandal, my nephew (who had not been involved in any of this but came out to see what all the fuss was about) also deciding to climb over allegedly to help but actually just to stand on top of the neighbour's tin shed - this then required adults telling him to get off that roof straight away and help look. All to no avail. So we re-grouped in the backyard and the suggestion of walking round to the neighbour's house to have a good (and authorised) look was raised, only to be instantly knocked down by my sister and her partner who informed us that the neighbour was a mad-woman who had once impounded their dogs and then screamed at them when they tried to apologise. At this point Michelle, very sensibly and nicely and with a mother's 6th-sense, discovered that it was her child who'd thrown the missing shoe over and that in all likelihood we'd been searching in the wrong spot. So then we asked the Climber (to whom backyard fences are as nothing) to pop back over in the middle section. Of course then my nephew wanted to go over again too but unfortunately he was not wearing shoes and the neighbour's yard was prickly. He frantically demanded shoes, sensing that he would miss out otherwise and my kind sister ran off to find them and helped him put them on, (you do the left foot I'll do the right) only not quickly enough because just as my nephew got over the fence Climber called out Found it! to general applause and relief. Which left my poor nephew feeling completely frustrated on the wrong side of the fence and he instantly declared he could not get back over, so his father had to haul him back up and over.

At which point the party broke up and Michelle and I gave each other a big hug and rejoiced at having found each other. It's not like we'll get to actually see that much of each other in the future but we had enormous fun and meanwhile, there's always facebook.

(Caroline likes this)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Canberra and back to school

Oh Hai! I've got all these blogposts circling my brain but school started back yesterday, as did tap and I'm flat out like a lizard drinking.

So yes.

It's bullets again.

  • We went to Canberra so I could see my sister and her kids and the Paris Masters Exhibition. We stayed with my sister and she took excellent care of us. Thanks sis.
  • I really liked the exhibition. I went at a quiet time (last Friday of the school hols, 11am in the morning) and there was NO QUEUING.cultured10
  • I fell in love with Cezanne a bit more. His use of colours is truly great, and you'll never know this unless you stand in front of the actual painting. I wanted to lick the canvases or wrap myself in them or something. They made all my senses buzz.
  • My favourite picture was Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles, but all his paintings in this exhibition were wonderful. His genius just pops out of the frames.
  • I was also really fond of the Toulouse-Lautrec portrait which he'd done on cardboard. Great art on a crappy surface, it had a special poignancy because of this.
  • I need to tell the saga of the lost sandal next time I blog. Don't let me forget.
  • I found $38 airfares so Cherub got to have his first plane rides. (Climber still remembers flying with me to Canberra when my niece was born. Plus he flew to Sydney to see his Grandma when he was 18 months, he claims to remember this but I think he couldn't possibly.) The trip to Canberra was fun, we came in with the sunset.
  • This shot is taken before take-off on the return trip, when all was well.travellers 12
  • The return trip to Melbourne was incredibly turbulent due to the evil North Wind.
  • (There is nothing good about a North Wind if you live in Melbourne.)
  • Climber has inherited Mister Fixit's ironguts, for which he should be profoundly grateful. He was slightly nervous, but essentially fine.
  • Cherub and I were this close to losing our lunch and we both hated it.
  • I had to calm and soothe poor Cherub through my own sweaty palmed discomfort and rising nausea and it was a tough gig. We're nearly down, it's just the wind, my goodness it's bumpy. Bleah.
  • The poor little mite pretty much kept it together for the interminable descent and then burst into tears on landing and said he was never going in an aeroplane again. A kind lady saw his distress and held everyone behind her back so we could get him off the plane quickly.
  • We missed Fixit while we were away. A friend told me he was wandering around like a lost lamb in our absence.
  • The whole family spent the morning at the pool on Sunday for the heatwave. It was ace.
  • The kids went back to school yesterday and all is well.
  • Except driving to school that first morning suddenly all the stuff I had to do came crowding into my brain and I could feel my shoulders rising and *bam* if you're not careful you can lose all your holiday relaxedness in one little car drive. I forced the shoulders down and took deep breaths.
  • My first tap classes were last night and now I have money in my wallet and joy in my step again. As I did the grocery shop this morning I could feel my happiness glowing out of me and it made me realise how much I've been missing tapping, and how lucky I am to be able to do it as a profession.
Okay. So I think we've caught up now.