Fixit did his magic on Saturday, using a jigsaw to great effect. What we have now are boards that run from wall to wall, and therefore cannot move underneath the tap-dancers. The old green boards didn't cover the entire floor space and were held in place by grip mats underneath, and although this worked reasonably well, there was still movement. Which was disconcerting, to say the least. The new system is still able to be easily packed up at the end of each day, and the lack of grip-mats underneath and gaffer tape on top means that the whole floor is much flatter, and safer.
So my new boards are completely ACE!! Fixit is a board-cutting legend. I'm so excited.
I tried them out for the first time tonight and they were fabulous to dance on. And not at all slippery.
I'm not going to think about the dings and scuffs that they received tonight. They just add character.
As soon as Fixit walked in the door last night, I told him he had to make a trident for Climber to carry at the Bookweek parade tomorrow, and handed him the nice long cardboard fabric-roll stick I'd scrounged that morning from Rathdowne Remnants. Then I got going with sewing Cherub's Harry Potter cape out of the $6-metre of crushed velvet (you see how I can whip things up now? I even put a little wand pocket on the inside at Cherub's request) and putting dinner in the oven and testing Climber on spelling words for the test tomorrow and getting Cherub to choose which of the sticks I'd picked up by the side of the road he wanted to use for his wand. Meanwhile Fixit had not immediately seized the cardboard stick and set to work, so I've said come on, make the trident because then we have to paint it. Which caused him to mutter something like when is this parade and how long have you known about it? I mean, as if that man is not perfectly capable of knocking up a really good stable trident in the space of half an hour! And then supervising the paintwork and sanding the side-of-the-road-stick into a good looking wand. What is this advance notice he thinks he needs?
Harry Potter (sans glasses, the one item I couldn't actually knock up at home, and why if wizards have all this magic do they need specs anyway?) and Percy Jackson (son of Poseidon, hence the trident because otherwise his chief costume accessory is a ballpoint pen.)
So I'm STILL painting the new tap boards and I've really, really had enough now. I think I've mentioned before my princess tendencies? We princesses do not like drudgery, and painting 28 tap boards (6ft x 3ft) with 2 coats on the top, one coat underneath and a final coat with a paintbrush all around the edges definitely falls into the drudgery category. However, I am up to the edges of the last 9 boards so the end is in sight. Hurrah. Can't wait to lay them down and try them out. I think. Sort of. Well. There will definitely be a tap-shoe inspection before every class (in that first week anyway), because if my new boards get scratched from a loose screw I will burst into noisy tears. Don't go trashing my drudgery, is all I'm saying.
On the days when the Tap Hall is being used by other groups -meaning I've been unable to paint- I have occupied myself making the second pair of pants for Master Climber; more tasteful grey but this time with extra fleecy pockets.
Clearly I've gone a bit sewing-crazy and this has led to me agreeing to help with the costumes for Climber's class' number in the Grade 3/4 concert. The concert theme is Inventions, and Climber's class chose The Wheel so they will be dressed as cavepeople. The girls in animal print lycra and the boys in polar fleece which is being thrown out at the moment for $6 a metre. I'm sewing/cutting the boys' stuff but said I'd go purchase all the fabric. That's my Thursday all accounted for then, flitting between GJs, Rathdowne Remnants and possibly Spotters to see who has the best deal in cheap fur coloured fleece.
Guess what song they're going to use for The Wheel. No go on .. oh you already guessed didn't you? Yes. You're right. It is Proud Mary. Actually when I said to Fixit something along the lines of gee that wasn't half obvious he looked confused and said what is this Proud Mary song? so Climber and I sang Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river and it was at that point that Fixit admitted he thought that song was actually called Rolling On The River.
Cherub had quite a bad case of nits last week, and because he is well overdue for a haircut, and nit combing was a nightmare with all those knotty split ends, I eventually cracked and took to his curls with the scissors. It's a very wonky job, in need of a professional tidy-up but meantime I can now get a comb through without Cherubic overuse of the word Ow.
How am I supposed to make new pants out of all these when I have to keep painting tap boards all the time?
And how am I supposed to get the tap boards finished if I have to keep going to Athletics Carnivals?
Fourth Place in Long Jump
Third Place in High Jump
Mildly disappointed in himself for not performing as well as he thought he could (he's not good with pressure in a competitive situation) until I pointed out that 80% of the kids there went home without any ribbons.
The Climber is tough on clothes. Especially trousers, shoes and socks. I certainly don't bother buying Holeproof brand socks for him anymore, for fear of choking on my bitter laughter. And Climber's shoes are thrown out well before he grows out of them; there's absolutely no prospect of passing them on to his younger brother - unless Cherub doesn't mind walking around with his toes sticking out the end. As for Climber's pants, well, if I were not so slack about mending I think we would not be in such a clothing crisis, because a knee-patch in time saves 9 (pairs of trousers) but alas wherefore the knee-patches, hmmm? Domestic mathematical equation #1: trouser-destroyer plus slacker-mender equals clothing crisis.
I suppose I could have rushed to the shops and grabbed some el cheapo pants, but (a) there's not much winter stock left and (b) I find buying clothes for boys on my budget very depressing because so many of the K-mart/Target clothes have semi-violent motifs - skulls, bombs, camouflage. No thanks.
So I decided to sew.
Armed with my new book Sew What! Fleece (I love these Sew What! books, they have really taken the mystery out of sewing for me) I went to the Spotlight 20% off Everything Sale and came home with lots of fleece. Half of it is purple (I don't know how that happened) so looks like I'll be getting some new pants soon too. But first! New pants for the Trouser-destroyer, assembled in half a day, which is quite fast for me. I ended up using a Kwik Sew pattern (3773) rather than drafting my own via the book, only because of the urgency of the project.
A lot of the blogs I read feature very pretty handmade clothing, often with really nice fabrics and fancy embellishments like ric-rac or vintage buttons. Of course it's all for girls, or at a pinch quite young boy-children. I didn't want to spend all that effort making pants that he wouldn't wear, obviously, so I restrained myself with some plain, tasteful grey. You don't find much in the way of tasteful grey round these here parts, I'm just saying.
In the end I couldn't help myself, I just had to decorate them somehow.
But I couldn't sew him on properly. So I settled for this:
Somehow the opportunity to do Good News Week; The Round-up yesterday just passed me by. What with time constraints (board painting, grocery shopping, swimming lessons) and the lack of anything in the way of bloggable good news (there were little things, like getting time to paint 4 more boards when I thought I wouldn't get the chance to do any, having a lovely coffee-chat with a friend, and playing some rather good scrabble moves, but nothing that seemed to warrant a whole Good News Post), it turned out that it was not my lucky day for posting the final blog in this series. So I'm calling Friday the 13th a glitch in the system, and ignoring it. But seeing as I was awake to see the most stunning sunrise this morning, so gorgeous that it penetrated my walk-of-the-living-dead morning status by filling our kitchen with the most resplendent rosy light (it had turned gold by the time I got outside with a camera to capture it) and seeing as I also won $65 on a tattslotto ticket today as well, I think today must be the perfect day to round off Good News Week.
It has been a good exercise to really focus on the nice and good things in my life this week, and has actually been quite helpful in terms of making me stop worriting about rotten situations that are out of my hands. It's also been quite fun to blog every day, but I don't think I could maintain that over a longer time period, I would get sick of the sound of myself I reckon. But to finish on a cheery note, I hope that there is good news in your life this week and that you're not too miserable/ distracted/ busy/ cranky/ sick/ put-upon to relish it.
I wish I could say that the good news is that I finished painting the new set of boards for my Tap Hall, but sadly this is not the case. I'm about two-thirds through, which feels okay. Contrary to my normal modus operandi, I don't want to rush this job, even though, as you can probably see in the photo above, my old green boards are in a pretty tragic state. But seeing as I went to the trouble of planning a new board configuration and getting proper paint advice, I'm determined to do this task properly, so that the new set are really ace to begin with, and then last the distance.
So. The good news for today is that I grabbed an old pair of shoes and gave the finished boards a little try-out and I think this unassuming looking paint is the goods. The surface was not slippery and seemed able to sustain some pretty solid blows so I'm feeling cautiously happy about that. The acid test will be when all the kids come tumbling in of a Saturday morning and start playing the crazy game of running from hall-end to hall-end, which they all seem to do in the minute or 2 between one class finishing and another starting, whilst I grab a quick drink and chat to anyone who needs my attention. But at this rate I don't expect to have the new boards in place for another week, as there are other bits to do beyond just 2 coats of paint on top. So the kids can keep running crazily back and forth on the dinged up old green boards for at least one more Saturday.
After a day spent painting up my new tap boards (no colour this time, just a clear coat but I've stencilled the word TAP on all the boards and chucked a bit of glitter down for subtle interest; I think they'll look nice in a brown-paper-packages-tied-up-with-string sort of aesthetic), and another 2 or 3 all-day painting sessions still to go, the good news for me today is this:
Brrr Melbournians isn't it cold outside?! Or are we Melbournites? I never know. But good news today is that I'm not out in that cold, wet weather. I am home, in front of a heater, with a purring kitty on my lap, and enjoying a cup of tea and some cinnamon toast. The only thing that could top that would be lying snug in bed listening to the rain fall. And, you know, the day is still young....
For those of you not in Melbourne this is how it looks outside. There's my washing getting a final rinse in pure rainwater, I always think that makes the washing a little bit cleaner and softer.
In other good news, one of the new students at the brand new beginner tap class last night looked shocked when I said I had 2 children and told me I didn't look old enough. I do, of course, especially first thing in the morning, but there you go, if people are the right distance away from me and the lighting is favourable (fluorescent tubes, who knew?) then the bags and wrinkles under my eyes and the streaks of grey in my hair can be made invisible and I can come home with an extra big smile on my face.
Good news for us was a statewide curriculum day so that all our teachers could learn the ultranet - although I suspect the thousands of teachers who went into learn all about it only to find that such a mass log-in caused the ultranet to crash did not think it such good news.
But for us it meant a sleep-in, then a trip to the Zoo Shop to buy the toy meerkat that Climber has been 'earning' by doing tap class despite being all tuckered out after soccer. Cherub, under the same deal, has been getting a pack of footy cards each week to put in his stupid album, or, as he insists he has to say it, his elben. That's how all his friends say it, allegedly, and they would laugh at him if he said album.
The other good news is that I had all the essentials with me to take the children to the magnificent Castle Park. So while my kids ran around, I sat in the sunshine, and sipped my coffee and started to knit, which was just lovely until I realised that the awful brat on the swing behind me was going to keep repeating, in her hideous whiney tones, I'm going to kick you Mister Poo-Poo, I'm going to kick you Mister Poo-Poo until finally her embarrassed mother made a half-hearted attempt to stop her by saying I don't find that funny (whilst continuing to push the kid on the swing, mind) at which point the brat changed her repetitive whine to I WANT you to find it funny, I WANT you to find it funny, for hours it felt like. Now you might think that that doesn't sound like good news, but I realised I had a solution which didn't involve moving from my comfy, sunny spot. My ipod. Goodbye irritating brat noise, hello nice music, hello really nice visit to the park for all of us. Good news.
I'll tell you what good news is. Good news is having a tap student whose husband works at a paint store. The last time I bought new MDF boards for my tap hall and painted them, I went to Bunnings where, when I eventually located a staff member to help me, I still received no real help. Which meant that I went ahead with the great but unproven idea of using paving paint, in an effort to achieve extra durability and non-slipperiness, and it was pretty much a disaster on all fronts. (Interestingly, when I looked back on that post, there was Shula in the comment box saying I needed to go to a proper paint shop next time. That woman knows what's what, that's what!!) So this time, with 28 new boards to paint, I went and saw Terry-the-husband-of-my-tap-student and it was definitely worth crossing to the other side of town to do so. Sunday afternoon turned out to be a really good time to go, because all 3 of the nice paint experts at the paint shop were at a loose end and therefore available to discuss what would work best, and we spent at least half an hour workshopping it; every few minutes one of them would say what about? and then they'd brainstorm. Talk about service! And when they'd worked out the best option, factoring in effectiveness and affordability, they rang it through at staff discount, threw in a free paint stirrer, told me to dilute the first coat and carried the 10-litre tin out to the car for me. Good service is absolutely good news in this day and age.
In other good news the 9yo Climber is interested in cooking, which meant that I was able to outsource teach him the joys of crumbing lamb cutlets, and he not only did a magnificent job of it, he arranged the finished cutlets artistically on a plate and garnished them! I thought he was running outside to play and asked if he'd finished as he shot past me, only to be exhorted Don't go in the kitchen yet! Then he raced back in with a sprig of fresh rosemary and showed me his work.
(It's a shame of course that his little brother was so pathetic at eating them later on, but it was only to be expected given his track record.)
The good news is that today is Saturday, and Saturdays are ace. An early morning session with the chiropractor, a lovely walk to the tap hall while Fixit takes the boys to soccer, a crazy fun-filled morning teaching 4 classes of tap dance to super-awesome children, who smile their wonderful smiles and make me laugh and give me hugs, and dance and skip and sing. Then it's off to grab takeaway coffee from Ian's and lunch from Sunny's, maker of the world's best sausage rolls, followed by an afternoon chill-out. Saturdays are a great day round our way.
In other good news, I dried 2 loads of washing completely on the line, no finishing it off on a drying rack inside, because the sun came out and stayed out for 2 whole days. Rain is good, we need rain, I'm not whinging about the rain. But two days of sunshine is most welcome.
In other news, yesterday I braved the horror that is Norflands (aka Northland, local large shopping complex) in order to take advantage of a Target sale. So my underwear situation is now out of crisis, repeat, out of crisis, and bonus, I found a ten-dollar bra which was purple! Good news in anyone's language, I think you'll agree.
And saving the best news for last, Fixit finally did the weeding near the rosemary. We're neither of us very into gardening, especially me, I am far too princess-y to get my hands dirty, but we do like it when the garden is looking good. Sad to say, the poor old yard is not looking at all good at the moment; all the rain -which I am definitely not whinging about- has made a mudbath of the lawn and there has also been a winter's worth of neglect. But when I saw that one of the few lovely things we have in the garden was about to bud, I nagged Fixit to do one of his famous super-weeds. He grumbled I'm too busy and I said nonsense! you're a superweeder it will only take you 5 minutes, which is almost true. And so now, this little sweet smelling bulb, the Erlicheer, has room to breathe and bloom, and if that's not good news I don't know what is.
In my 20s and 30s the news in my life was of graduations, travel, engagements, marriages, house-buying / renovations, babies. But just right now, my news seems to consist of the sad and the bad: parents dying or declining, marriages ending, seriously debilitating or life-threatening illnesses. In one case, both those last things together, which has been quite ghastly to witness. Now, I'm not sure if this profusion of bad and sad news is due to my demographic and from here-on in I can expect my news to just get worse, or if maybe there's some astrological catastrophe circling the heavens causing carnage and upheaval, but I am starting to feel a little bit overwhelmed by the sheer mass of misery.
Which is why I'm declaring it Good News Week. I need a week of good news! Doesn't matter how small, I am having 7 days of happy announcements.
Here's Day 1:
Cherub's Grade One Concert last night was awesome.
He's been so excited about it and on the night he had a great time. His class performed The Shoemaker and The Elves, and Cherub was a shining star. As were they all. Cherub was one of the Narrators...
...and he spoke clearly and confidently. Also, his little surreptitious waves to us (we were in the 3rd row, excellent seats) were just magnificent, keeping that balance between acknowledging that he could see us and maintaining his onstage persona and responsibilities. Once his narrating duties were discharged he became one of the elves, where he did some absolutely marvelous singing and dancing.
And to cap it off, his best buddy got a last-minute promotion to the central role of Shoemaker which is just like something out of a movie or a book, really, and added to the general excitement.
After the show we took the boys and Cherub's bestie to the Gelobar for a very unseasonal but delicious gelati treat. It was a super-fun night.
...if you are my facebook friend. And a few extra things as well.
Fixit and I went and saw the mighty Bill Bailey at the Palais. I'm on Bill Bailey's mailing list, which meant I was able to book earlier than regular punters and thus we ended up in excellent seats alongside the rest of the fanclub. If you want to know where all the geeks and nerds and trainspotters of Melbourne were on July 17th, I can tell you that they were sitting down the front with Fixit and me. I've never seen so many in one place, but then I suppose I don't frequent comic-book conventions, boom-tish. Apparently if we'd hung around a bit longer after the final encore we would have seen BB wander out and do another 30 minutes of material for the die-hards. I almost wish I hadn't been told that, but I suppose it's useful knowledge for the next time we see him. It was an excellent show and my favourite part was his rendition of Cars by Gary Numan where he used a whole lot of those horns with the rubber squeezy thing on the end, all differently tuned, to make up the synth solo.
Last night I finally sorted, folded and put away the mountain of clean washing which was taking up every available surface in my bedroom. Those of my facebook friends still cowering under their own piles of clean washing were either mildly abusive or congratulatory, depending, I suppose, on how big their piles were.
I went to another Creche Trivia Night and we were winning the whole way, until the music round came up, at which point, somewhat surprisingly, we bombed. I hate coming third. I still feel disgruntled. Also, I hate bombing out on the music round, and the following day found me on iTunes listening to MGMT and MIA to see if I liked them and should be downloading them so as to keep up with the young peoples. To date I have not. I'm not ruling it out though.
Both my boys now know about menstruation. Periods have been a very well-kept secret in this family because blood makes the Climber feel highly anxious. But we'd read this great book about a pre-adolescent girl (Do Not Read This Book), and the kids loved it so then we borrowed the sequel (Do Not Read Any Further) which saw the main character well and truly hit puberty. I'd been reading ahead and knew the period bit was coming up, so I'd prepared myself to talk about it. However, that chapter arrived on one of my teaching nights, so poor Fixit stumbled into it, suddenly realised he'd hit an area he was in no way ready or even qualified to speak about and promptly skipped forward a few pages. Hilarious. But seeing as I'd primed myself to 'splain it to them, I went back and read the missing pages to the boys the next night and had the chat then. As predicted, poor Climber felt terribly anxious about it and I had to keep saying things like it doesn't gush out and it's not really the same as your normal blood and it's perfectly fine etc. Then I showed them the paraphernalia and that was that. But it did remind me of another thread on my facebook page, about the paraphernalia, where said "ladies products" were discussed. When my kids first saw a tampon roll out of my handbag and asked me what it was, I'd said it was a bandage, which when you think about it, is true. Another friend said, under pressure and on the spur of the moment, that they were earplugs. Earplugs! Gosh that makes me laugh and I immediately asked if she'd ever then seen her kids stuffing them into their ears at any later date (she said not yet). Most hilariously of all, another friend, who, as a child, had not quite been told the difference between sanitary and table napkins, had set the table with the sanitary variety because she'd thought that would be extra nice for the dinner guests. I'm still trying to picture how that must have looked, tucked neatly under the knife and fork.
I scored a free ticket to see a contemporary dance piece last week. I enjoyed it, I did, even though I went in with the preconceived idea that contemporary dance was all about how many times you could fling yourself at the floor - evidently been watching a bit too much So You Think You Can Dance. But what I came out thinking was: for a dance piece there wasn't much actual dancing. To be honest, the years of dance training they probably all had were not needed to perform this piece, they could just as easily have been first year drama students and I'm saying that as someone with dance and drama training. But a good piece of theatre, truly. I think my reaction says more about my lack of knowledge of contemporary dance practice.
The Cherub has had his first sex-education where-do-I-come-from chat, aged 6 and 3/4. (Compared to the Climber - he was 5 when he first asked me about it, I was really not ready for that one - this is quite backward.) Cherub was about to hop into the bath and had given me a little kiss when he suddenly asked me if kissing would make a baby. So we had a big chat about seeds and eggs and where they were and what needed to happen to bring them together so you could make a baby. For the record, when I got to the part about the um... insertion, a look of mild disgust crossed his face and he said errr. After we'd had the whole lesson, he said but Savvas says a Saint Kilda player (footballer) kissed a teenager and she had a baby. So this is what the 6 year olds are talking about at school, hey. Now I wonder if Savvas will be getting his own little educational playground 'chat' and wondering if I need to give his parents the heads-up.
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