Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crafticus Campicus

Hello, I'm back! I've just had the most lovely few days away. A long weekend at Sewjourn with a really ace bunch of chicks. Oh my goodness it was good.

It started (for me anyway, lots of the others started on Friday) with Nell and me being chauffeured up by the Fixit males after Saturday morning tap classes. When we arrived at Lancefield, we showed the boys around. Climber said Mummy, I'm going to send you a letter, what's the address here? and Cherub said wistfully as he inspected the rooms I really want to stay here too. But we heartlessly banished them all back to Melbourne and settled in for a weekend of girly, crafty fun.

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I hooked straight into sewing, finishing off some bunting that I'd half prepared months ago. That way I had a finished project very early on in the weekend and could feel efficient and like a competent crafter.

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That night was Earth Hour so despite the fact that we were running slightly behind the Earth Hour schedule, we decided to eat Ali's delicious curry by candlelight. No-one could taste the burnt bits that Ali was so worried about. It was a bit of a common theme to be needlessly paranoid about catering for the masses but actually all the meals were delicious, and I know I've said it before but it was complete and utter luxury for me to only have to think about and prepare one out of the 8 cooked meals I had there, because, let me tell you, at home I am in charge of every meal even if it is just deciding to have takeaway and phoning through the order.

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Jen, Astrid, Suse, Justine and Lana by candlelight.

All in all we had 12 people come stay the weekend, but the shifts were staggered. Only Jenny, our fabulous organiser, stayed through the entire long weekend from Friday to Tuesday. And only on Sunday lunch were there all 12 of us eating together, including Kaye-the-masseuse who arrived Saturday evening and spent all of Sunday massaging us into floaty loveliness. Here we all are, enjoying Suse's lentil and barley soup.

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Suse, Nell, Ali, Astrid, Justine, Lana, Jenny, Robyn, Julie, Gina, Kaye

That afternoon we farewelled Justine, Lana, Robyn and Astrid who, it must be said, dragged their feet out the door and were heard to sigh they wished they could stay. Later that evening Jenny and I decided Climber had put us to shame by promising to write a letter so we ventured to the local shops and gained Good Mother Points by sending off cards to our children. Then after the day's sewing came to an end, and after the excellent dinner provided by Gina and Julie, plus the apple, pear and rhubarb crumble baked by moi, Kaye also reluctantly bid us farewell and Nell and I rounded up the willing for a game of Pictionary; here's how it looked from Jenny's birds-eye view. My team didn't win but it's only a game.

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On Monday, I checked the letterbox and there was my letter from Climber. So I rang the family and heard about their doings, including Cherub's trailblazing 7km bike-ride there-and-back-again. We enjoyed Nell's lovely pumpkin soup (she was another needlessly nervous caterer) and sadly said good-bye to Gina, Julie and Suse as they reluctantly turned tail for home.

sewjourn 125 letter

On the last evening it was only Ali, Jen, Nell and me, rattling round that big house. We ate Jen's fabulous spanakopita and Ali and I argued the various ways that Nell should give up smoking. (I said gentle walking should be involved, Ali was agin linking giving up something with exercise in case that invoked unnecessary anger.)

On Monday morning Ali drove home at the crack of dawn, having kindly left me her whizzy sewing machine after mine carked it late Sunday. So then there was last minute finishing of projects and the packing and tidying and then Jen drove us home.

And in the midst of all that was sewing, knitting, painting, designing, egg-blowing, unpicking, ironing, cutting, consulting, advising, measuring, basting, pinning, way too much chocolate, sugar hits, cuppas, wine time, and most importantly, talking and laughing. People made coats and skirts, pants and tops, bags, fete goodies, scarves and washi paper eggs.

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Nell's Eggs, the blowing was the hardest part. (Ain't it always?) The purple peacocky one was for me, natch.

Ali designed what she referred to as a High Fashion Garment for a Burda Style competition (vote for Ali! somewhere over here I think...) and I modelled it for the photos. Jenny gave me the pattern for her 15-minute pants and due to a mix-up (not my fault, some lycra pattern got mixed in with the original we think) and the subsequent necessary addition of side-panels and a waistband, plus the not-as-necessary but jauntily decorative addition of stripey pockets, I finished them in a mere 3 hours. I made a skirt with a zip from Suse's never-fail pattern and it was a success, although I did need to unpick my first attempt at the zip. I made the acquaintance of the over-locker and although I gradually got better at it (except for cornering, cornering on an over-locker is a bitch, in my opinion) I did not progress to intimate friendship with it. I also worked out how to put together my first ever cushion cover with buttons, which meant I learned how to do buttonholes on a machine. Well, when I say learned, I really mean Jen set up Ali's whizzy machine with the one-step-buttonhole paraphernalia and I put the button in the doodad and put my foot down on the pedal and voila, buttonhole!

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the crafty doings, and there are more of the weekend over here.

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My first try at a zip, seconds before it was unpicked and done properly.

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sewjourn 163 sewjourn 167
Skirt with a zip
Ali's Lolly Wrapper Dress aka the High Fashion Garment
Version 2 of the 15 minute pants which probably only took me an hour and a half and are actually for Climber but looked so oversized that I decided to shimmy into them. They actually do fit him apart from needing the elastic tightened a smidge.
And the group shot of nearly all my projects: purple bunting, Ink and Spindle cushion cover - reverse side showing the buttonholes, the skirt with a zip, Cherub's 15-minute shorts with extra waistband, side panels and pockets, Climbers pants, just with pockets, the strapless dress that I added straps to because I just can't hold a strapless dress up on my own and the Green puffle.

And finally, presents for the boys: some soft toys I whipped up, she said airily, knowing that you can't really see the quality of the sewing from this photo. Pikachu needs a mouth and something happened to the eyeliner of the green puffle but the boys liked them when we were rapturously re-united on Tuesday afternoon.
sewjourn 169

A really, really great weekend. I came back completely rejuvenated. Can't wait for the next one! (Only 4 weeks to go....)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

pick yourself up, dust yourself off

All righty then. I'm officially not in a panic any more. This is good because panicking is stupid. I've done some marketing, I've done some thinking, I've been reassured and helped by good people far and wide and I'm back to being Miss Caroline the Optimist again. Big thanks again to all who weighed in and helped out and calmed me down. You rock.

Meanwhile in household news, here is what's going on.

I received a lovely teatowel via Sooz's teatowel swap from Jo at Jellybabyblog. Thank you Jo!

teatowel swap

And I indulged in some panic-induced retail therapy but actually I think I would have bought this anyway, panic or no, because it had my name stamped all over it.

new purple wallet

I will be heading off to Sewjourn on Saturday for a crafter-rific weekend of girl power and err.. craft power. Yay for craft power and girl power. Time to try making a skirt with a zip. Time to finish off a few projects. And time to just generally recoup and regroup. The lovely Miss Kaye (from my performance troupe The Tap-pets) is visiting us with her mobile massage service and she'll be in charge of transforming the plank of wood into my upper back once more. Can't wait.

Fixit's motorcycle was declared a write-off after his little accident. Iron-balls 1, Honda Hornet 0. This is bad news really, as he got that bike at staff rates when he was still in the trade and it was supposed to be the bike that lasted. It was still under finance too, which means that we'll see very little of the payout, the bulk of it goes straight to the finance company. Fixit was very glum about this. I reminded him that in less than 2 years when the apprenticeship is done he will be, for the first time in his life, on a reasonable wage and that he can get a good bike then. Meantime he has the loan of a friend's bike and has started looking for a second-hand one. He is just completing a 6-week stint at TAFE and I think his brain is well and truly fried (I know his fingernails are), but so far he has passed all exams. It's probably good that I'm going away on the weekend because it has forced him to take time off to mind the kids (school holidays) and this will be an excellent wind-down for him. You see how I look out for that man?

Climber has started keeping a diary as a direct result of reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. He is really committed to it too, and is madly scribbling away as we drive to and from school or last thing at night. He let me read a bit when he first started but wants it to be private now, fair enough. He tells me bits though. Quite often the last thing he writes is a preparation for the future ie: Today at school I... - that way he can leap right in when he's re-united with his diary. He also had to do a self-portrait for school, we used a printed iron-on transfer onto an old canvas then he painted things about himself round the outside. It will go straight to the pool-room once his teacher has finished with it.

climber's self-portrait_2092

Cherub lost his second ever tooth...

tooth #2 falls out 2099

... and he came this close to swallowing it again. Luckily, as he explained in his note to the Tooth Fairy, he thought it was an apple seed so he took it out of his mouth in the nick of time.

Tooth fairy note_2102


tooth fairy note and bros_2105

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Allegedly the Merri Creek Fete

Photos from the Miss Caroline Tap Dance performance at Merri Creek fete this weekend, text from Planet Anxious.
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"Come to Miss Caroline's tap school!!"

My headspace, she's a not so good this week. I wish my brain could let things go, but it can't. I now have a plank of wood instead of an upper back and I'm finding it difficult to concentrate on useful stuff like getting organised for Craft Camp at Sewjourn this weekend. But I really hope getting away from it all in good company will sort me out a bit.

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"It's really fun there, and she's part of your community, yay!"

I am really grateful to the people that took time to comment on the freak out post. It's good, it's good to feel supported. Even nicer has been the practical help offered by a few lovely people who've said send me your ad, send me your flyers. That kind of help is fantastic. Especially because my brain is currently squealing round in circles wondering what to do about this marketing stuff. I do see that it's a good idea to market my Point of Difference but what with the squealing brain I can't really put my finger on why people should come to my school over hers. Her school will be good, mine is also good. We're both into a fun environment, non-competitive, family friendly etc. Does the whole thing boil down to whether you prefer pink or purple? I don't really know. Also I'm trying to do up flyers but again what with the stress I just can't think straight to do them (what should they say? how should they look? what should I include, what should I leave out?) and that's on top of still feeling my way round the new-to-me software of Illustrator.

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"you can step out in style"

So it's not that I think any one is wrong when they tell me to sell myself -actually I think they're quite right- but I'm just finding at the moment that I can't. I'm too anxious about the whole thing. I am latching on to Molly's sage advice because it is the one that I can make sense of at the moment, which is there's probably room for both of you. I think that's right, I think there's a lot of families in this area who want their kids to dance, way more than my tiny school could cater for. Really I've just got to put any old flyer out into the ether so that when the families initially look at a dance class, mine is one of the options.

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"don't pick another tap school!"

However, there is another issue that is fueling the brain-melt, because I feel that actively marketing herself directly in the suburb where she knows I'm based was maybe stepping over a friendship boundary and that side of it is making me feel rotten. Finding her in our schoolyard was really not nice. You know? That's kind of my patch. I assume that she just hadn't thought it through, that she was just in good businesswoman marketing overdrive and was covering every base, and her brain was too full to consider details such as moi. Well I'm trying to tell myself that anyway. Because I absolutely don't want to get into any argy-bargy over this, I would prefer to stay friends; I like her and as far as I know she likes me. We went to each other's 40ths, for heaven's sake. And we go back a long way. She rang me a lot for sympathy and advice when she was having troubles with another tap person. So I don't want to end up in a situation where we could never be in the same room together ever. I'm officially too old to get into bitch-fights with someone anyway, especially as I know that short-term relief in making a fuss will lead to long-term angst and I have quite enough long term angst to be going on with. If there was a way of saying good luck with your school but can you please back off in my suburb I would say it, but so often even simple requests can blow up in your face. And look, I'm not a protected species, it's not really my patch. In business terms. In friendship terms maybe it is, a little.

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"or the Cherub will sneer at you"

Anyway. Sorry. I hope to stop boring on about all this really soon, but as you may have noticed it has a rather large grip on my pathetic psyche at the moment. It is kind of nice that when I've talked about it, people have been really supportive. Like I know I'm not a protected endangered heritage listed business, but actually in a lot of ways I have felt quite protected.

And PS. The Tap Kids were shining superstars at the fete this weekend and local Melbourne identity Catherine Deveny whooped our performance. She did.

PPS. Nobody but Jac made any guesses about the song lyric snippets but in case anyone was interested they are from : Grandma's Feather Bed, Woody's Round-up, Everybody Walk the Dinosaur and Get Up Offa That Thing.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fast Feet at the Fete!

Photos from the Miss Caroline Tap Dance performance at Merri Creek fete this weekend.

merri ck fete 2010 178

"Come to Miss Caroline's tap school!!"

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"It's really fun there, and she's part of your community, yay!"

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"you can step out in style"

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"don't pick another tap school!"

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"or the Cherub will sneer at you"

The Tap Kids were shining superstars at the fete this weekend and local Melbourne identity Catherine Deveny whooped our performance.  She did.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

freak out ah c'est chic le freak

half a selfportrait33

I've been having a mild panic attack for the last couple of weeks which escalated into a fairly full blown one yesterday because the woman who was my first tap teacher is expanding her empire to cover my side of Melbourne.

I want to firstly make clear that it's not her I have a problem with. She's a nice person, a friend of mine, she works extremely hard and she's a very good business-woman to boot. If she'd picked a location slightly east or west of me I would have said good on her. But she is opening very nearby and I ran into her yesterday in the playground of my kids' school, about to put an ad in our newsletter. My turf, my home turf. It panicked me.

Part of the problem of course is that she was my first tap teacher, and has been something like a mentor to me. It's hard not to feel threatened by that, by placing myself mentally as grasshopper to her ninja. Or whatever the right metaphor is there. I wouldn't (and didn't) feel that way when/if students of mine were to start up classes nearby.

The other problem is to do with my own self-confidence. I automatically thought Oh this is going to kill my tap school dead. And why would I think that? My school is a going concern with a good reputation (I think) and most days I believe my students enjoy the classes and look forward to coming back every week. So on some level I must believe that I'm an impostor and have been getting away with it, presumably because nobody in this area knows any better. (I don't think I'm the only one who feels like that, deep down inside.)

And then there's this kind of feeling, when a few things have gone against you like Fixit not getting the job last year, where it seems that the hits keep coming, that maybe Fixit and I are doomed to be battlers and losers all our life. I know this is crap now, but last night in the full barrage of an anxiety attack it was pathetically easy to wallow in the Mud-Of-Poor-Me, and to forget all the really good things we have to be thankful for.

All last night and this morning, my brain skittered between worst-case scenarios and trying to think it through logically. Worst-case gloom and doom goes like this:
  • Her school is so big and mine is so small.
  • Her school has variety, mine is too specialised.
  • Her school will have a proper studio with mirrors and barres whereas I'm in a community hall with a makeshift floor and a one small rollaway foot mirror. I'm boutique in my offerings but not in my surroundings.
  • She is a really good businesswoman with 2 booming studios and I'm just me with not much interest in the business side of things, just wanting to earn a living doing what I like. And I've seen her in action, she's good at and energetic about promoting the school. She is putting up flyers and posters, advertising in the local schools. Things that I do haphazardly.
  • She has capital behind her for expansion, Fixit and I absolutely do not. I can't actually ever realistically foresee having enough business or capital to get my own premises (although I do of course daydream about it.)
  • She was the original, I'm the pretender.
Top of the doom-gloom scenarios is the fear that if my business goes under, particularly while Fixit is on his apprentice wage, we will be completely stuffed financially (we run fairly close to the edge as it is). Worse, I will be miserable because my school keeps me happy and sane even when things are going badly. Like now for instance, as Fixit wrestles with TAFE and is re-exhibiting all his stress behaviours in full force. Who is going to keep the household in good emotional shape if I go down, hmm? (And PS. While I value Fixit in many many ways, he is the worst person to have a panic attack around because he is a great big pessimist and a half. So instead of talking me through it and reassuring and trying to get me to see straight, he went one better than me to complete disaster and much worse worst-case-scenarios than even I'd come up with. Which is partly why I'm blogging this really.)

If I think about it all properly, and I've been trying to do that since yesterday in an effort to get my breathing back to normal and my shoulders down from around my ears, then I tell myself the following:
  • That she is right when she says she is offering something different to me. Her school is very girly and pink and glittery and fairy. I think I do have my own brand and style and it is one that I'm happy with. Possibly I am the anti-danceschool option, the one you choose because you want your kid to dance but don't want the rigidity of a formal ballet school or anything too over the top or too hippy-trippy.
  • That I can put up flyers and run ads too. I've been aware that I don't do nearly enough of that sort of stuff and that this could be the sort of kick up the bum I need.
  • That I don't actually think I will lose students to her. Any students I lose will be because of my own shortcomings (gulp) and not because a school with nicer facilities has opened nearby. And I think a goodly percentage of my students are with me not because I'm the only game in town but because they enjoy my classes.
  • That it is not my ex-tap teacher who will be the competition so to speak. It will be teachers hired by her and that has no psychological worries for me at all. And, to be honest, on my good days, I do think I'm good enough at what I do to be able to hold my own. We're all different, we all bring different skills to the table and I think that my best assets are my teaching skills (several of my grown-up tap students are also teachers who have taken the time to tell me that I'm good at it) and the way I can make it fun for my students.
I suppose the other worry-mosquito buzzing round my brain is that although she won't steal my current students, she could be taking (for want of a better word) my future students. And therefore, maybe, my future as a Dance Teacher. I have had vague hopes of maybe expanding one day. Not on our current wage, natch. But me, I'm always thinking my ship will come in. Not in a I must seek the ship and bring it home for myself kind of a way either, like a sensible person. More in an airy-fairy things will work out in the end way. You see now why my business is small.

But a good chat with a chance-met friend this morning helped me think more clearly about this too. Made me focus. Why I am doing my business? Is it to make money or because I love what I do? Answer: The money is nice (and some more money would be even nicer) but I do it for love. I do. You see? I'm not naturally a business-woman. I'm the child of a workaholic. I seek balance and family life and creative satisfaction and happiness and emotional sanity and fun. As Gabby put it, what price earning good money? I suspect it entails giving up dancing and teaching and taking up people management and paperwork and assets and marketing. I seriously do NOT want to do that. I just want to dance and teach dance. I'd like to be slightly more successful so that I didn't have to lug my tap boards around before every gig, but I accept that this is a pipe dream and that my life is not too hard really.

So I think I'm *almost* out of my panic attack. Moments of reaching for the metaphorical brown-paper bag. Still in need of reassurance. Might cry and hyperventilate if I have to talk to anyone face-to-face about it, but might also just hold it together with slightly leaky eyes. But shoulders almost back to below my neck, and trying to think sensibly and positively about the future. I think I can sustain my current levels. I hope I can continue to improve them. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kid Tappers Strike Again.

My kid tappers rock. They really do. Saturday mornings are excellent fun because I am blessed with such great students from ace families. It's true.

Today a whole heap of them came and tapped with me at the Collingwood Toy Library Fair. This is our 4th appearance there - some of the kids (including my boys) have done every one since 2007. This is what mine looked like back in those days...

Gawd, talk about babies. Anyway. If you've been reading here long, these shots are probably all starting to look a bit the same but that will not stop me from sharing some of my favourite pictures. However to add interest I'm including a line from the song they're doing and you can have a go at guessing. It's easy-peasy.

I even kissed Aunt Lou. (Tiny Tappers 3-4yos)
ooh CTLF 2010 18

Bad guys go running whenever he's in town. (Junior Shufflers 5-7yos)
toughies CTLF 2010 050

Put your back into it. (Gliding Groovers 6+ Intermediates)
dino2 CTLF 2010 073

(Bonus shot of these guys because I couldn't pick which one I liked best)
rah CTLF 2010 100

Shake til you feel better. (Tapsters 8+, advanced)
bigs CTLF 2010 155

Everyone enjoyed the show, and all the kids were fabulous and adorable and danced really well. But I think the best feedback for me was several people commenting how good the Tapsters (the big kids class) sounded. Looking cute is one thing, sounding good is a whole 'nother level. They did too, with their timesteps and bombershays.

Thanks again to my roadie and photographer (Mister Fixit), my Production Manager (Nell) my Car Hire company & video recordist (Jen) and all the gorgeous families who came and danced or cheered us on.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Cupboard of One's Own

The Organisation that I hire my Tap Hall from finally let me have my own lock-up cupboard there. I'm ridiculously excited about this. Here's why.

See all this stuff?


That used to live in the Corolla's hatchback. And had to be unpacked and packed all the time.

But now, look! Space. For the groceries. Or school bags.

clean hatch

Three years I've hauled a boot full of boxes, shoes, t-shirts, hats, canes and other tappy paraphernalia. Now I can just unlock my Very Own Tap Cupboard. No more staggering out at the end of a class with loads of stuff. I can just lock it up and stroll out to my car, the one with all that space in the back of it. No wonder I was smiling like a Cheshire Cat yesterday.

NB. The bottle of coke is for making my floor non-slip and absolutely not for drinking. Ask Nell how she got the hole in her stomach lining if you want to know why. I mop the floor with the evil sugary addictive corrosive so-called "soft" drink mixed into hot water and detergent and it works quite well. A ballet-teaching friend of mine told me that tip, and when I said Wouldn't lemonade do? because I hate buying coke, she said No, it has to be coke. I did buy some very expensive fancypants anti-slip stuff recently and it is much better than coke. But while I save up for the next container of that, the best solution is mopping the floor between each class. It's taken me ages to work this out, but I'm pretty sure the slipperiness is caused by the tap plates leaving a metallic residue. I know, duh! All this time I thought I'd used the wrong paint. And if all else fails I also have an emergency can of hairspray which can be sprayed directly onto the tap-plates for instant grip and a bonus asthma attack.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Toy Stories

The whole family has been sitting down to watch James May's Toy Stories on Friday nights, where James May, the mildly curmudgeonly Captain Slow of Top Gear, sets out to "prove why traditional, old fashioned toys are still relevant today when he pushes them to the limit in spectacular, super-size challenges". It's great fun. Episode 1 saw him focus on Airfix models, the end result of which was a life-size model of a Spitfire plane. The nicest thing in that episode was the appearance of May's father who was clearly very influential in May's early obsession with model building and who ended up becoming a kind of overseer for the final product. I also loved how all the the dads of the high school kids who were part of the Spitfire building crew became really involved. Some things you just never grow out of.

This week's episode was the plasticine garden, which became an exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show. It was gorgeous. We got about half way through it and Climber said I can't help it I just HAVE to get the plasticine out. So while they watched the show, the boys were also busy rolling and pinching the plasticine. Here's what they made.

Mouse and Cat by Cherub.

Plasticine Mouse and Cat

Flower by Climber.

Plasticine Blue Flower

Climber went on to make another 4 flowers for the mantelpiece and a strawberry.

Future episodes include a life-size house made from lego, a bridge over a river made from Meccano, a racetrack made from Scalectrix and a railway line. Weirdly, it's not only the males of the house who are loving it. I am completely hooked as well.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Here I go again.

In between watching Fixit's privates gradually return to something like their original shape and hue (he has recovered enough that he is even back on a [borrowed] motorbike now and ps massive thanks to Jen for lending us her car in the meantime), we have also been busy with the following:

Climber went to the District Swimming Carnival last Thursday to compete in the backstroke and I actually thought he was going to do respectably well in it, because he seemed to be swimming as fast as the other boys. Unfortunately he hasn't really mastered the go-straight bit of backstroke. So what with being tangled up with a lane-rope for a good 5 metres, then being tangled with that same lane-rope and another badly-steering-backstroker, then deciding to veer right away from that stupid lane-rope/backstroker at pretty much a 90 degree angle which meant that he had to stop to get his bearings approximately one-third of the way into the race, he stopped looking like he was in contention well before the race was over. Agonising to watch it was. He was of course last, and he was pretty dashed by that, despite my reassurances. So I made an executive decision to ditch school for the rest of the day, and we met up with Fixit (who was in between various ball-checking appointments) and drove to Carlton to spend Climber's birthday book vouchers at Readings and thence to Brunetti for cake therapy.


I think it worked.

Climber's teacher has been reading Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief to the class, and Climber has really been enjoying it. (Greek mythology meets 21st century American high school.) So we bought Book 1 and Book 5 with his vouchers (Readings didn't have Books 2-4) and he read it at every spare moment from Thursday when we bought it til Monday when he finished it. I never thought I'd see Climber-the-action-boy reading like that and it is making me very happy. So happy that I went straight to The Book Depository for the other 3 books in the series, even though it's not his birthday or anything.

Fixit's best friend the Bike Nazi is moving to Brisbane and his wife has been trying to juggle minding the 9-month-old baby and packing up the house. So the last 2 days I've taken the baby in the afternoon. Gawd it felt weird to be wheeling a pram again, and my goodness you move on quickly! I walked down to the school with her to pick up the boys then we headed to the park where we ate hot chips and I let her play on the equipment. The boys think it's great. She can't walk but she can climb up the little slide and although I am well-used to climbing children, I did have a minor heart-attack when she somersaulted face-first down some little stairs, even though I was guarding and -just- holding on to her. I thought she was going to break her neck, but she didn't even cry much to the amazement of the other mothers who saw it.

Me old mate Michelle was in Melbourne for a girls' weekend so I went to see Mamma Mia with her. Normally I say - with perfect truth- that I can't afford musical theatre, and I was not expecting for $110 to be sitting in the 2nd-from-back-row, but actually the back rows at Mamma Mia are a good thing because we were up and singing/dancing right from the start of the encore unlike the more staid front row types who had to wait till the cast encouraged them up. And that was totally good fun. You-oo can dance, You-oo can ji-ive etc.

The kids were ecstatic to have a sleep-over at Crafty's house on the weekend, and I think I can say with authority that they must have had an excellent time, because they both proceeded to be completely shattered -and in Cherub's case, rather tearful- for all of Sunday.

I took part in Sooz's big tea-towel swap and am very relieved to have posted my offerings a full 3 days before the deadline. I'm only doing a partial reveal here as don't know if they've arrived at the other end yet, but I worked with freezer-paper stencilling, which is unbelievably easy and effective, and applique, which was quite a bit more fiddly and lucky I was going for an arty look anyway because I doubt I could achieve perfection with that. Anyway, I was quite pleased with how they turned out. But I was so intent on getting them sent out that I forgot to photograph the slightly different one I made for Craftastrophies, so hoping that Kate will take a few pictures when her big move is over. Proper look at the one I sent to Jellybaby on my Flickr site though, if you want. My personal design brief was I wanted to make a tea-towel that looked good hanging on the front of your oven, which is where I always hang mine. I was also going for mild subversiveness.

teatowel teaser