Friday, October 29, 2010

Around the House

Cherub: I started a Dalek Club at school and Liam thought it was a Garlic Club.
Me: What do you do in a Dalek Club?
Cherub: (face and tone wondering why I even needed to ask that question) Be daleks...

(on my car dashboard)
Climber was Caught Being Good at school. He handed in some lost money to the office. I may have been heard to remark in the past that if you are desperate to receive one of these awards, the fastest way to go about it would be to hand in $2 and claim you found it, but I'm pretty sure I've only said that to other parents and not to the kids.  I also think that an observant teacher could have found other things about Climber's behaviour this whole year that warranted Being Caught Good, but I may be biased about this subject.

Cherub was sitting next to me at the computer when he suddenly sniffed and said I can smell your summer smell Mummy.  I was a bit nonplussed and asked if my summer smell was a bad smell, to which he said No it's nice. Not stinky like a smoker.  Then I asked if I had a winter smell and he said no.  It took me a while but I worked it out: he was referring to my eau-de-fake-tan. Most definitely my summer smell.

(from our garden)
Climber told me at Camp they had one meal of Build-Your-Own Hamburgers and that when he went to assemble his, he thought about what I would say and included some healthy vegetables into the burger, as opposed to just having meat, bun and tomato sauce.  Well, with the first burger he made anyway.  I had a my work here is done moment after he told me that.

We've been getting lots of lovely light through our kitchen window since they knocked down next door, which has been ace because our kitchen-&-living is normally rather dark.  But as you can see from this shot we are not going to have any view at all once they finish building.  The new place will be single storey, but owing to flood plain regulations, it is set rather higher than ours, and they are of course building it right up to the fence line.  One day I'm going to start a Society for the Preservation of Back Yards.

We have house-guests for the next ten days.  My sister is making her annual Spring Racing Carnival Pilgrimage to photograph the horsies, and she has brought my niece with her.  If you happen to buy an Australian postage stamp in the next couple of months, check and see if it has a racehorse called Saintly on it.  That is one of my sister's racehorse photos!  It is! We are feeling very proud and impressed by that.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Holier than thou.

I finished my second Vineyard Dishcloth, and this one, you'll be surprised to hear, I am keeping for myself.  When I showed it, pre cast-off, to the 2 perfectionists/anal retentives in my life (Fixit and Nell) they both, with touching faith in my abilities, expressed concern about all the holes in it.

Vineyard Dishcloth_5336


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Station Street the Blooper Reel

I thought our performance at Station Street Fiesta last Sunday was one of our best ever; nothing like being on the main stage to give you that extra edge!  However, we've all heard the adage never work with children or animals, and as there were a lot of children, there was bound to be a few funny moments.  So I am presenting for you the Out-Takes from our show - made possible because Fixit took 583 photos (true!) which meant that all these little moments were captured.

First off, bloopers from the grown-ups; aka me and Miss Kaye. Most performers would agree that apart from kids and critters, the other tricky thing to work with on stage is props.  Kaye and I have been dancing with The Hats for a long time, but we still managed two hat malfunctions on the day.  I distinctly recall looking down at some stage in this dance and thinking that's funny Kaye seems to be holding her hat differently to me but of course, in the middle of a dance you can't do much about it.  And it doesn't really matter which way up the hats are when we're both just holding them...

see how the purple knot is up top on my hat, and down the bottom on Kaye's?

... but when you put in on your head, you can see it does matter which way you hold it because really, you don't want the short end of the hat and knot in the hatband to be at the front, do you?


Still never mind, at least Kaye didn't drop her hat right at the final moment when a big hat-pose is required to finish the routine.


The other prop-related disaster came at the end of The Wombles routine, when I decided in my wisdom that a good way to end a routine about creatures who pick up rubbish was to have them throw their picked-up rubbish in the air on the finishing chord.  I know, I know, the logic part of my brain was over-ridden by the showbiz side. Anyway,  the weather was rainy and windy that day, and here you see what my face looked like when a piece of rubbish went sailing off the stage into the audience. Not sure ezzackly who threw the offending rubbish, but I look at this shot and think the little girl in pink, second from the right, is looking slightly mortified.  Luckily, no-one was hurt.


Okay, so that was pretty much it for prop malfunctions, now we come to working with children. We had started this routine with the Tiny Tappers, the very young group, when I suddenly heard a couple of Mums from the audience calling their daughters' names very loudly, accompanied by wild gesturing. Yes, two little girls had completely forgotten to join in with their own routine and here you see one of their Mums running forward to attract her daughter's attention.  Meanwhile, I had not noticed that half my class were missing AT ALL.  Good on me.


Once I became aware of the commotion I called the two no-shows forward, and below, you can see us dancing as a happy troupe. But I want you to remember these two little misses on the right, because they'll be back in this blooper reel, oh yes.


Now, this little class, the babies, are dancing to You've Got A Friend In Me from Toy Story.  And when I'd thought about doing this routine up on stage, I thought a nice way to end it would be for us to have a big cuddle at the end (because of being friends, you know).  And we did have one class rehearsal where I'd flagged this but it wasn't by any means set in stone, and anyway, these kids are so little that basically they just do exactly what I do.  So when I knelt down and held out my arms to them so we could have a hug, this is what happened...


Yes.  They ALL knelt down and held out their hands!  Nobody got a cuddle.  And as they sat there in that awkward looking pose, do you think they, or indeed the audience, were thinking Gee this is an odd way to end this routine, why did Miss Caroline choreograph this weird looking squat?

All right.  Remember those two little misses from before?  This is where they re-appear.  By now they'd been sitting onstage for quite a long time, watching the routines from the middle-sized beginners and the middle-sized intermediates.  Then it was down to the last 2 routines, the clever big kids, who began their performance with an a'capella routine (ie no music) which required a fair degree of concentration.  So there I was on stage, concentrating on remembering the steps, when those two little girls start having a rather noisy disagreement behind me. And there's no music to drown them out either.  So here's a picture of me looking round at them hoping to catch their eye so I can tell them to knock it off, but there's no catching their eyes, they are locked into a death-ray stare and glare, the little girl on the far left with the purple shirt and the one in the red shirt, third from the left.


Here's a close-up of the deathray glare, hilarious.


Eventually we got to the end of the a'capella and I was able to wander back to them and ask them (nicely) to cease and desist, which has far as I know they did, although the next routine had music so I'll never know for sure.

As you can see, I was aware that these bloopers were going on, but it wasn't until I was going through the photos 3 days later that I happened on this last little incident.  The big kids do a bit of arm-choreography in this number, and one day when they'd been learning it Climber and Pea had had their left/right arms at cross purposes and Climber accidentally biffed Pea (not hard, but we joked how he'd have to be careful because she's so little he could send her flying) which we'd all found quite funny.  But from then on, they'd always had their eye on each other when the arm bit came up and more often than not they'd try for sneaky surprise attacks on each other.  Of course I've mainly got my back to them when we run the routine so I don't think I really knew just how often this went on, and so I guess I never paid a lot of attention to it.

So I did NOT expect that they'd do it on stage.

But look!!!

Here's Climber, obviously watching me and concentrating when he is suddenly hit by a SURPRISE ATTACK from Pea.


Which makes them both crack up, and is also amusing Squeaky next to them and C in pink at the other end of the line.  I SAW NOTHING!!!  No idea that was going on.  Cheeky monkeys.


And just in case you're concerned about poor Climber being attacked by that outrageous little girl, don't you worry about that.  When that chorus came up again...


Shove! Climber Surprise Attack!  So he got his own back.  Then the two of them immediately resumed normal operations; this is the very next shot, taken a second later.


I guess it just goes to show how relaxed those kids are up onstage. Which is a good thing, right?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Middle and leg

Climber had his first ever match of cricket on Wednesday night.  I thought I ought to show a photo of him in his new cricket whites, you know, whilst they still actually ARE white.


His fellow team members are all as inexperienced as Climber, so we're not expecting them to win a match in the near future, but having said that, we thought Climber batted and bowled very creditably, and he took a very good catch to dismiss someone.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

From little tappers big tappers grow.

I've been teaching tap to grown-ups for a long time now, but I didn't start teaching tap-dance to children until my firstborn was 4 years old.  The desire to teach children arrived only after I'd borne children of my own and really wanted them to tap, but the impetus to actually do it came from a couple of my friends, who supported and encouraged me to set up what is now probably the more successful arm of my business.

This picture was taken at the first ever Miss Caroline Tap Dance Kiddie Class.  I had 4 students in all, one of whom was my own Climber, resplendent in his Mr Incredible dress-up. They were all 4 years old.  The two little girls you see here are Squeaky (the blonde) and Pea, and they are the offspring of two of my best friends, Jenny and Astrid from Mothers Group.  These three tiny tappers first 'met' in a Maternal Child Health Centre when they were 6 weeks old and barely able to lift their own heads, so I think I can safely say that they have been friends their whole lives. 


They are nearly 10 years old now, still close friends, still completely at ease with each other way in a way that makes my heart swell.  I can't tell you how much I hope that their beautiful friendship continues on through their teen years and beyond.

It makes me very happy that they are still tapping together.  This is how they looked on the weekend, nearly 6 years on since their first class, recognisably the same, just taller, and doing much harder stuff with their feet...

lifelong friends0516


And let's not forget their younger siblings, who were also central to the tale of the Miss Caroline Kids' Classes story.  There came a day when they too were big enough to dance, but not quite big enough to join the original class, who were by this stage older and capable of trickier tapping.  So this photo shows the moment when my school started running two Kid Tap classes, one for school-aged children and one for pre-schoolers.  I love this photo of them, so excited to be doing what they'd watched the bigger kids doing all those years: Squeaky's sister BP, my own Cherub and Pea's sister Roo.  These three are great friends too.


This was them doing their own special number on the weekend: Happy Feet.  (Excuse my cheesy grin there, it is part of the choreography.)  They were great.


These days I run four, count 'em, four Childrens Tap Classes and no longer rely solely on my friends to fill the enrolments. (Although the third-borns of both Jenny and Astrid dance in the younger classes.)  I always enjoyed teaching adults and had reservations about whether training kids would be as rewarding -all that crowd control!- but I absolutely love teaching the children.  I am blessed with exceptionally nice students and the joy from working with them every Saturday is only matched by the pride I feel as I see them develop.  The weekend's performance at Station Street really brought that home to me, with every single one of my gorgeous students, but maybe especially for these six tappers who have been with me from the start: Squeaky, Climber, Pea, BP, Cherub and Roo, you rock xx

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Station Street Fiesta 2010

The annual Station Street Open Mind Fiesta is run by the Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria and aims to help remove the stigma associated with Mental Illness. I've been proud to be a part of this festival for the last 4 years, and to support such a worthy cause.

I think we had a really good show today, and luckily for us, the bad weather held off.  Here are some shots of us, and there are more over here.

This is The Tap-pets; myself and the lovely Miss Kaye, performing the opening number.
tappets 0453

Below, you see the Tiny Tappers, all of them too small to even be at school.  This photo here shows us doing little shoulder drops, which was a winner with the audience, a collective Aw! came up as they did it.


These kids are the Junior Shufflers, and here you see us being Supercalifragilistic etc, I'm having an invisible cuppa at this moment, I hope I don't always make this face when I drink tea.


Ah, the Gliding Groovers, they are getting to be very clever tappers.  This is a moment of stillness just before the music starts, but they all love this dance so you can see the anticipation on their faces.


The Tapsters, who performed an acapella routine with rather advanced moves in it and kept the beat nice and strong.  This photo shows them doing their second routine, the one they did with music: the line here is you can't see my feet cos they move so fast  and look, its true!


The kids and Miss Kaye did a fabulous job, and we all enjoyed ourselves enormously. As ever, I am indebted to Mister Fixit and the wonderful Nell for all their help. I hope Nell's case of the shakes has subsided, she was in charge of Music On And Off and had to contend with the clapped out switch on my ipod so she says she got a bit tense! Thank you Nell, you rock. Thanks also to my Dad who took these lovely photos for us.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Los 33

I've just spent the last 2 days pretty much glued to the BBC live feed coverage of the Miners' Rescue. 

(Watching it, of course, stirred memories of another Big Mine Rescue story, Beaconsfield, in 2006.  I  remember watching that live, and counting down the hours beforehand until Brant Webb and Todd Russell were freed.  I remember too how wonderful it was when they walked out of the mine, having stated firmly that they didn't want stretchers or wheelchairs.  And I think it was one of those moments when the country 'came together' as it were, everyone hoping for a happy ending to their ordeal and feeling so glad that it came to be; but I don't think we were as staunchly and overtly patriotic as the Chileans, who burst into their national anthem when the last miner emerged and shouted Chi Chi Chi Le Le Le repeatedly through the 23 hour rescue.  Pretty sure nobody burst into Advance Australia Fair at Beaconsfield, although it's possible someone shouted Aussie Aussie Aussie Oy Oy Oy.)  

I read an article saying that this story resonated so strongly worldwide because it tapped into so many universal fears, particularly fears to do with being trapped: trapped an impossible depth underground, trapped without fresh air, trapped without light or food, and I think chillingly, trapped in a situation where nobody might ever find you.  The rescue coverage was compelling, a good news story that went on and on, and never got boring, or less touching, as you watched man after man emerge from the capsule and re-unite with waiting, anxious families. It was a beautiful, moving story about hope fulfilled.

I thought the rescuers who went down into the mine to help the trapped miners were so brave too, especially the last man who had to wait all alone and strap himself into Fenix 2.  I loved that he gave that last bow to the camera before he clambered awkwardly aboard. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Last of the Festival of Cherub

The hostessing is over, just the cleaning up to do.  Hurray.


The last event in the Seventh Annual Festival of Cherub took place this morning: the boys from his class at school, in a park, with fairy bread & honey joys, fruit & chips, and chocolate cake coated with an entire bag of smarties...


Let's not forget also the 7 litres of cordial, which provided a welcome activity in the final half hour of the party when owing to a few disagreements and boyish exuberance we were racking our brains for a something that they could do which would be fun and non-destructive, and the answer turned out to be taking the whole lot of them to the public toilets (because they'd all drunk so much cordial) where there were automatic doors and piped music!

Oh look, baby music!  Hey, it's my turn to push the button.  Oh this one stinks, come and smell!  Let's shut him in there.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Return of the Camper and Fixit's Birthday

Climber returned from school camp this afternoon in one piece and not nearly as tired as he was last year, the only mishaps a nasty bite from a bull-ant and his towel in the lost property pile.  Lots of cuddles all round, and many tales to tell, and all of us happy to be the full family again. Directly we got home from school I ran him a nice hot bubblebath and let him soak off the tiredness and dirt while I deloused him. (One big nit and a lot of eggs, apparently not all other parents went to the effort of checking their kids heads before sending them off to camp *sniff*)

Then it was off to very nice pizzeria for Fixit's birthday dinner...


... where I failed 3 times to get the happy camper in focus.


In a way I think that's quite fitting, because if you're exhausted you don't feel very focussed so it makes sense not to look in focus as well.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

School Camp


Climber went off on the bus on Wednesday morning to his School Camp with all the other Grade 3s and 4s.  I pinned the Camp Information Notice on the kitchen noticeboard -as a reminder- weeks and weeks ago, I signed all the slips, I paid all the money, I made sure all the clothes he'd need were clean and dry and put away over the weekend, I sorted through all the available shoes so that I could find 2 pairs that fit him which didn't have holes in them (not as easy as it sounds), I got Climber together with the pile of necessary items, a suitcase and a laundry marking pen two days before he had to leave, and he and I did a preliminary pack together, including laying aside the clothes he'd wear on the day.  All items labeled, all items checked off, or circled if needing follow-up.

And then, on Tuesday night, the last night before Camp, having done all that and everything as ready as can be, I said to Fixit, just as I was about to fly out the door to teach: you need to check the kids for nits and find Climber a torch that works.

At which point I was accused of always leaving everything to the last minute, which meant there was never any margin for error.  I don't think he understands that it's just a case of me knowing my so-called margins.  Fixit is absolutely the sort of person who would have at least one working torch, and also the sort of person who would know where to find said working torch immediately.  (He knows where everything is in his shed.)  I don't need to give him any advance notice of this sort of thing.  Plus, even if by some complete unlikely mishap, like, say, an asteroid hit Fixit's shed, and Fixit Couldn't actually Find A Torch, I still had my pretty purple handbag torch as a grudging back-up.  I have to tell you that I resented that comment, and also that I told him as much.

The fact that I left it until today, the day before Fixit's birthday, to go present shopping for him, is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT.  There will be items that he likes wrapped in paper and adorned with cards, served with cake on the day, and nobody needs to say anything about margins or last minutes.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Fifteen candles.

Blowing the candle out; Part I.
(Morning celebrations with Grandma and Pa.)


Blowing the candles out; Part II.
(Afternoon celebrations with friends.)


Blowing the candles out; Part III.
(Evening celebrations with Fixit and Nell.)


Verdict:  Best birthday ever.

Still to come: Cupcakes at school, Monday morning, and a party in a park with school friends, next weekend.   The Festival of Cherub seems very big this year, but I suppose you're only seven once.