Saturday, January 29, 2011

Riding, eating, watching and fixing

Things that have been happening round here.  In no particular order.

Climber received a new bike - with gears! - from my Dad: one that my [workaholic] father had actually bought for himself, thinking he might do some riding, and never unpacked from the box. The bike is a leeetle bit big for Climber, but he is riding it very well, except if he has to stop suddenly he leaps off the bike sideways and lets it fall, owing to not wanting to bang himself on that middle bar, which is fair enough but means that in under a week the handlebars are already pretty dinged up.


Cherub has also graduated to a bigger bike, the last-but-one of Climber's and is riding it with aplomb.  We've been for a couple of family bike rides since the upgrades and I'm pretty sure we're going faster than before.


The boys, courtesy of Nell, attended their first cricket match at the MCG to watch Australia beat the English in a day/night match.  When Nell, who had the 4 tickets through work, rang and kindly offered them to the boys I just assumed that only Climber and Fixit would be interested, but Cherub, to my surprise and disbelief, piped up I want to come too! and after me saying are you sure? quite a lot, it was arranged that Nell and the boys would go and that she'd bring Cherub home when he'd had enough. He lasted exactly 55 minutes before announcing to Nell that he'd like to go home.  She said Really?! Do you think you could make it to the one hour mark, Cherub? so he dutifully waited another 5 minutes.

Climber and Fixit meanwhile lasted right through to the thrilling end at 10pm and caught the train most of the way home.  This is them after the match, sporting the headbands the crowd were given to mark the 40 year anniversary of one-day cricket, in tribute to the 70s look favoured by Dennis Lillee.  They had an absolute ball.


Here is Cherub modelling his headband, [much] earlier in the day. He put it on, then asked Do I look like a pineapple? but I don't think he got his hair to go up quite high enough to pull off that particular look.


We redeemed the voucher we'd won at last year's school fete for a $75 meal at Babka Bakery in Brunswick Street and by gum it was good.  After brunch-for-four there was enough left on the voucher to walk away with 2 jars of their in-house jam.  We were pretty happy with that!

Fixit has to go back to work on Monday after a month of holidays.  He has been fixing stuff like mad, pretty much stays in the shed all day unless you call him to get coffee or go for a bike ride, and I think the best effort of the lot was fixing my handbag digital camera.  To be frank, I didn't think he'd be able to do anything with it, but because it was out of warranty and had been a lemon from the day I bought it I thought why not.  Plans to replace it with a little purple digital camera have been shelved.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


What with one thing and another, I haven't really recorded our Mothers Group holiday the other week.  We had a great time.  Three families: ours, Astrid's and Jenny's, crowded into a 4 bedroom, two-storey beach house in Rosebud.  Noisy!  Well, when the kids were up, it was anyway.   Especially when they ran round playing their favoured game of Harry Potter, shouting Expelliarmus! or Petrificus Totalus! at the top of their lungs.

Whilst in Rosebud, our group (in various permutations, depending on preferences) explored the many op-shops in the surrounding areas, got to a beach at least once a day (usually the Rosebud beach, but also the Sorrento backbeach at low-tide for the rockpool action and also the stunning Point Nepean where the dangerous rips meant we could only paddle, but the views more than made up for it), did some fishing and bike-riding, played boardgames, read books, celebrated Pea's 10th birthday, cooked fancy meals for those who would eat them (and plain pasta for BP and Cherub), played Lego and Polly Pocket, knitted and crocheted, took the Age Summer Quiz each day and other puzzles as the mood took us, drank tea at home and coffee when we went out, visited the Rosebud funfair and the Ashcombe Maze and tried to keep everything dry in the very wet weather.  Oh, and Cherub lost his first top tooth.


I started up Miss Caroline's Hair Salon for the girls because long hair is very annoying when you're swimming a lot, and also because let's face it, the boys never let me braid their hair.

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We had a backyard party because Astrid's firstborn turned 10 while we were there...


...and all the kids got party poppers.

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We also made the Big Kids and the Middles do the downstairs dishes, which went off without any whinging or breakages...


... although the Bigs got a bit silly with the bubbles.

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We ended up sleeping all the children downstairs (except for the very youngest who tried one night in with the chatterboxes and decided, sensibly, that he needed more sleep than the rest of them were having), in the loungeroom and the front bedroom, while Jenny and her husband bravely took the middle room and helped with early morning breakfast making.  (Jenny volunteered, saying she is an early riser anyway).  None of the kids could agree on who would sleep in the coveted front room so they drew up a fantastic roster, rotating themselves through the various beds: Lounge I, Lounge II, Kitchen, Front Room.  And because they'd made the roster together they also stuck to it beautifully, with no arguing even when they got the squeaky mattress.


In short, a good time was had by all, and I hope the kids will always remember it as a great fun summer holiday.  Full photo set here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun.

Fixit & Baby Climber

The Climber turns 10 today.  Best ten years of my life.


We're having pancakes for breakfast & some friends and family round for cake this afternoon.

Brand New Boy

Last night the boys and I looked through the [very sketchy] baby diaries, which made them both keel over laughing. The fact that Climber used to say Ya-ya-bishey and we didn't know what it meant caused great hilarity. As did the fact that I'd written that Cherub was a really really fat baby.  Actually, they were both very fat babies.


Happy 10th birthday, gorgeous boy xxxxxxxxxx.

Friday, January 21, 2011

And did those feet, in ancient times

Today was Mavis' funeral.  We took Climber & Cherub, because they knew Mavis well and because we thought it would be good for Mavis' two boys to have some friends there.  I'd had a chat with my boys yesterday to prime them for what they could expect, and they were terrific, but of course sad.  Indeed, Cherub started weeping heavily as soon as the service opened with Mavis' favourite song, Dancing Queen by Abba.  It was as though he was a little conduit for all the grief in the room, and he really didn't stop looking sad until we left the chapel.   Fixit was sad but stoic, Climber had slow tears rolling down his face on and off, and I was a mess.  But as I said to the boys in preparation, it's important to let the sadness out at this time. 

Afterwards, back at Mavis' house, we had a cheerful wake with plenty of drinking and laughing.  I was enormously comforted by the presence of friends from school, as kind and caring and funny a bunch of people as you could ever hope to meet. 

Mavis requested that people wear green and pink to her funeral, and this inspired me to make some crochet brooches; first one for me, then one each for Fixit and the boys, then another 3 for Mavis' children and her sister. Plus some spares. Really this whole week has been about trying to do stuff, because making and baking and having the kids over, in other words trying to throw some practical help at a sad situation, seems to be a therapy in itself.


Now that it's over I feel wrung out, but more at peace.  I think we sent her off in style and I think she would have been happy with it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This morning my friend Mavis died peacefully in the hospice with her devoted sister at her side. She was 46 years old. I'm glad her suffering is finally over, because this last year has been awful for her. She never really let on though, she was brave and full of hope and chirpy through so much of it. But I will miss her.

I'm not sure how her two young sons will cope, frankly. Since the secondary cancers appeared and started causing havoc, I think Mavis' normal place at the centre of the family was gradually eroded. She was often in her bed, battling pain and illness and tiredness. So although Mummy was there for the boys last year, she wasn't really there in lots of ways. I think they've had an acclimatisation process, if that makes sense. I'm thinking back now to how she made a supreme effort and came along to the Grade 4 Concert in September last year and the School Fete in November, the last school things she ever did, and I feel glad and proud of her that she did that. There seems to be this awful dilemma of making choices whether to reserve your strength to fight the disease or using it so that you can still be part of the life that's going on around you.

Anyway. I will miss Mavis and her cheeky sense of humour, and her posh British accent, her forthright views and her kindness and generosity. I will think of her whenever I see a particular shade of green because it was her favourite. And I will keep an eye out and arms open to her poor motherless boys. Good-bye dear Mavis, rest well.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Sun and Sorrow

We had a beautiful 2 day stay with my Aunt and Uncle at Barwon Heads, where we discovered the wonderful surf beach at Ocean Grove, possibly the best beach for boogie-boarding ever.  The kids' faces as they caught those long waves all the way to shore were a perfect picture of happiness and exhilaration.

Tomorrow morning we are heading off for the much-anticipated Mothers Group holiday in Rosebud.  Jenny, Astrid and I and all the husbands and chillun, in one big house by a beach.  It will be awesome.

And in between and indeed across these two idylls, is my pain at losing my friend Mavis, who has only days to live.  She has fought breast cancer for 5 years now, but at Christmas time, the secondary cancers, which had been mostly in control, suddenly turned feral and in the blink of an eye there was nothing anyone could do anymore.  Mavis has two children, boys the exact same age as mine, and the eldest one is Climber's best friend.  The boys have been on holiday with their father (the one who left her this year when she was having chemo): they came home today to an empty house and the news that Mummy was in the hospice, and when they asked the inevitable question they were told the terrible truth.  So the next few days will be a saying of goodbyes for her family.  The rest of us, knowing that she is in too much pain and too wretched about saying goodbye to her children to cope with anything more than this, are putting our farewells into writing and waiting for the news.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


On the face of it, we've had a very lazy time post Christmas, lots of pyjamas-till-noon (on my part anyway) but we've managed also to do a few things.

(Lorikeets in the neighbour's massive plum tree.)

Fixit, who is on holidays for the next month has been on a 3-day motorbike ride with the Bike Nazi and either side of that has been deeply engrossed in fixing up his bike. He has also repaired the VCR, his ipod speaker/charger and diagnosed a friend's car's ailment.  Today I made him mow the lawn too.

The boys have been happily working their way (subject to mean-mother screen time limitations) through the Lego Harry Potter Computer Game from Nell, as well as the various Lego sets that came their way for Christmas.  Cherub is frankly resentful when we make him leave the house.

(Stealth photo by Climber)

The boys also made Climber's worm farm.  They tried to give it a home on my kitchen window ledge but I moved it outside.  There's enough stuff up there already, kitchen stuff like spice racks and wettexes and detergent.  Don't need menageries as well.


As for me, well apart from overseeing the big Christmas clean-up and tree removal, I've made:

:: My first batch of home-made icecream (lemon sorbet) with the icecream maker Fixit gave me for Christmas.  No photos, but it was a smash hit!

:: Some jammy dodgers with my fancy Christmas present biscuit-cutting-tool.  They were a bit soggy to tell the truth, I need to tweak the recipe from the biscuit-cutting-tool's box.

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:: My first ever granny square (with the help of my Mum when I visited her last week.  Whilst in Sydney, I also scored some cool summer clothes and sandals at her local op-shop where everything was reduced by 50%, bargain!)


:: A little summery wrap skirt from my awesome Sew What! Skirts book.  As you can see, the skirt is a fetching shade of purple and just perfect for a spot of Totem Tennis.


Meanwhile, we're about to head to the beach.  I need to sort out some projects and books to bring.