Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

Owing to school graduation, high school orientations, houseguests, tap concerts for small and grown, end of term  palaver and I don't know what else, we didn't get our Christmas tree up until yesterday evening.  Today was spent doing last minute shopping, baking and making.  But I think we're ready now.  Nothing like a deadline to keep you focussed. Just a little more wrapping tonight and a smidge more baking in the morning and I think I can finally relax and enjoy Christmas! Yay!


The kids took the job of exercising thoroughly before bedtime - so as to be properly tired on the most exciting of nights - pretty seriously.  As well as a family bike-ride earlier in the day (made memorable by a maniac running the pedestrian lights we were about to step out onto so they he could get to the next red light a mere 20 metres away; Fixit promptly went after him and gave him a good reprimanding and a smack on the back of the head), Cherub ran 15 laps round the house, bounced 100 times on the trampoline and danced 2 tap-dances before bedtime stories.  Both kids also made good use of Grandma Fixit's old exercise bike.

Just before bedtime, we remembered to set the plate for Santa.


Then it was time for the boys to try to get to sleep. Goodnight Cherub.


Good night Climber.


Happy Christmas from us.


Monday, December 10, 2012

The Grade 6 Graduation Ceremony

Climber finishes Primary School for ever in just under 2 weeks. Whilst we are all excited about the next stage of his development (Fixit and I had our High School Orientation For Parents last week, Climber is off tomorrow for his own orientation day), we are also experiencing sadness at the end of an era. How is it possible that 7 years can fly by so quickly, how?

Our primary school, like most others these days, holds a Graduation Ceremony for the departing Grade 6 children. Ours was last Wednesday. A special smart, casual outfit was required so I took Climber out shopping for a shirt with a collar and some nice jeans. This was the first time in his life that we've done that, having survived all these years with hand-me-downs, the occasional hand-sewn and the rest staple el-cheapo knockabout clothes from Kmart and the like, which don't require children to be present at the purchasing. This is what we bought him:


When he was trying the outfit on at the shop, there were couple of other mums who gasped a little when he emerged from the changeroom, then commented to me how handsome he looked in the stripey shirt (buy both shirts, they said, but we just got the one).  I was more preoccupied with the fact that he'd come shopping with his soccer socks and shinguards still on - getting skinny jeans on and off over shinguards is quite a struggle. Lucky he's agile.

We took some pre-ceremony shots... .


..and then it was time to drop him off at the school hall for dinner with his grade and his teachers.  Fixit and I then went and met some kindred parents for a meal at a nearby restaurant.  Cherub went to stay the night with his best friend.

At the ceremony, there were speeches and prizes.  Ten children volunteered to speak on various topics (teachers, outings, special happenings, funny stuff, friends).  I was very proud to see Climber be one of them -   he spoke very well indeed, about outings and excursions.

Then they all sang a song, during which there were tears galore, from audience and performers.  Climber was one of the kids struggling with emotion as he sang, I of course was one of the tear-drenched parents.

Finally they came up. one by one, underneath a past and present photograph of themselves and a quote they'd chosen, to receive their graduation bag of goodies and to be wished well by their teacher and their principal. Waaaaaaaaaaaah.


I'd cleaned myself up a bit here, but you can see the eyes, they are red with crying!


Climber came straight to me afterwards for an emotional hug, but we managed to smile for the camera.


Afterwards was a bit of a party, and then home to bed where Climber once more got quite upset at the ending-ness of it all.  So sad.

It was great to have a ceremony to mark the end of what has been a very happy period of our lives. I think the kids felt very special and loved, and a little bit mature too, like the grown-ups they're starting to become in the next stage of their lives. It was a very emotional night and we were quite wrung out for days afterwards.  Only the final assembly to get through now!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The story of the Teeball Team has been simmering away since last term.  I always meant to write about it, but I didn't want to do it at a time when it might have made Climber feel bad, and then came the Great Blog Hiatus of October/November.


All the kids in grades 5 and 6 at our school play Inter-School Sports on a Thursday afternoon, competing in the sport of their choice against other local primary schools.  Last year Climber played soccer in the A-team, but it was a disaster despite his soccer prowess and he didn't enjoy it at all.  This year his choice was Teeball which, in case you are unfamiliar with this sport, is a modified form of baseball, minus the pitching: the ball is placed on a big tee, and the batters step up and try to knock it for a home run.  Climber was delighted to make the A-team, and they had a terrific, enjoyable and undefeated season.  He looked forward to Thursday each week.

At the end of the season, the teams who won their inter-school competitions qualified to go on to the next level, and the kids on the representative teams were stood up at Assembly on Monday to be wished luck - something I'd witnessed with football and basketball teams which had progressed all the way to Regional.  So I was fully expecting Climber to stand up when they called on the Zone Teeball team, and when he didn't I assumed that he'd been vague-ing out and had just missed the announcement.

However, what actually happened was that the Teeball Co-ordinator had, as was allegedly traditional, disbanded the successful (*cough* undefeated!!! *cough*) team and held new tryouts for the representative team to compete at the higher levels of Zone, Regional and State.  And at that stage Climber was ditched in favour of some footy boys, all of whom had already represented the school at Zone and Regional with football. 

I approached the Teeball Co-ordinator to find out why Climber wasn't in the team (very tactfully and nicely, she's also the drama teacher and I didn't want to sabotage Climber's progress in the School Production)  and she said that they had to do it or the kids would get thrashed and humiliated at the higher levels.  I said at the time I see, but I didn't see, not at all, and I spoke to lots of other parents about it, and none of them saw either. All of us thought it was dreadfully unfair, particularly in light of the original team having been undefeated, particularly because the drafted kids had already had a shot at representing the school in their own sport of choice, and also because it seemed so unnecessarily cut-throat for a primary school aged competition.  It felt like winning was being made the thing, and I was pretty sure that wasn't actually our school policy.   People who knew Climber also agreed with me that it seemed unwarranted, given that he is a perfectly competent sportsperson (gold medallist gymnast, star goalkeeper and Best & Fairest player for his soccer team this year, competent cricketer and tennis player to name but few). It was all making me feel very cranky.

Best and Fairest Award Winner for his Soccer Team this year

I also started feeling progressively crankier about the New Improved Team being so lauded, as I read in consecutive newsletters and watched at consecutive Assemblies, them being: wished well for Zone, being congratulated for winning Zone, being wished well for Regional and then congratulated for winning Regional and qualifying for State.  The original team were never once stood up and thanked for their efforts in getting them qualified in the first place.  Week after week, there sat my child, never getting to have what I considered a deserved little moment in the sun at school. Salt, wound.

Eventually I wrote an email to the Principal, querying the ethics of the situation, which caught her completely on the hop and apparently caused her to spend the rest of the day chasing round trying to find out the whys and wherefores. Now, at this stage I am reading between the lines, but I think what happened is that she believes in supporting her staff, so she sent me a letter saying it was necessary to field a competitive team, all the other schools did it, and some other stuff about teachers doing the Rep stuff out of the goodness of their hearts etc: bottom line - the Teeball Co-ordinator was not at fault.  I was already drafting a so team-stacking is okay because everyone else does it? reply, but then, magically, it transpired that they could take a few extra kids to the State Final and so the 4 ditched kids, Climber included, were asked if they'd like to come and play, and all but one of them said yes please. So, I think, deep down, everyone knew it had been unfair, and the issue was handled in as face-saving manner as possible.  I was happy with that, and Climber was certainly happy to be back on the team and heading off to represent the school.


They came third on the day and were stood up at Assembly the following week and soundly applauded for their magnificent achievement - the 3rd best teeball team in Victoria!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Some of the things that affect my ability to blog are: School holidays, houseguests, having to host a party, going away, a big work commitment, a big school commitment, stress or Fixit being around in the daytime.  All those things make me feel I can't sit at my computer composing and constructing tales of our life; all of those things also happened in the last 6 weeks, hence why nothing has been posted here since Cherub's birthday.  And now I have SO much catching up to do.

Because of course we've been busy as busy bees.  My Mum and my sister have both been to stay, Mum for a christening and my sister to photograph all the horseraces that happened in Melbourne last month (there were quite a few!).  Fixit had a birthday while Mum was here, and although I had to work on the actual evening of his birthday, he and I were able to go out on a date the night before, because Mum kindly minded the chillun for us.  I did make a cake for him before I rushed off to tap.


My significant work commitment was the replacement of the portable floor at my tap hall, involving trips to the hardware store in borrowed cars and a lot of painting.


As well as some jigsaw work by the invaluable Mister Fixit.


The new boards sound great and look much better, but owing to the fact some of them are slightly warped, the brave new easy set-up I envisaged hasn't happened and in fact there appears to be just as much taping and messing around so far. *sigh*


The major stress of the last 6 weeks was the ongoing saga of the stolen gas meter at my tap hall, which seems resolved, after 12 weeks (I'm not making that up) of no heating or hot water. Ridiculously, the meter was replaced after a mere 8 weeks, only to be stolen again that same evening.  It then took just 2 weeks (!!) to get a new one, but as soon as it arrived it was taken away for safekeeping for a further 2 weeks while a safety cage was built.  I had been boiling a kettle for so long to mop the floors that I'd actually forgotten how I used to get the hot tap water in to the mop bucket and it took 2 minutes of thinking for me to remember.

Anyway.  Hello again!  Everything else that happened really needs it's own post, so I will post again soon.  Meanwhile, here's a picture the kids took of Basil in the washing machine, he loves to jump in there when doing a crazy-cat pelt through the house.


Monday, October 01, 2012


On the morning of Cherub's ninth birthday he woke at 6.30am and crept out to check the kitchen clock.  Uh-oh, too early. Back to bed he slipped, til j-u-s-t before 7am, at which time he stole quietly into our bedroom and stood there, smiling excitedly and expectantly.

We roused ourselves to cuddle him and to exclaim that he couldn't possibly be as old as nine.  But he nodded his head firmly, he knew he was, he'd been counting down the days.

Time then for getting dressed and eating breakfast, and then....



First up, a clue hunt, set-up for him by his awesome brother.





Then it was time for the Mum-n-Dad presents...


A gold talking dalek, all good.


And of course, some lego.

Later we had friends round for birthday cake




...and a couple of raucous games of Billionaire!



After they all left he spent some happy hours building his lego.
Seems to have been a good day.



Pfft. That can't be right.
Happy birthday crazy, funny, smoochy boy. You rock.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Show 2012, Our 7th Visit

We went to the Royal Melbourne Show with the Mothers Group Mob and a schoolfriend of Climber's on the first day of the School Holidays.


Jenny and Astrid and their children managed to last all day, but by 1.30 my crowd tolerance meter had well and truly expired, and so our contingent slipped away from the hordes and the noise.  I had to teach that evening so it *was* necessary not to fully exhaust myself.

This year, my kids found out about Showbag Hall, a secret I'd kept successfully from them for their previous 6 visits to the Show.  They'd had showbags before, but this year they were allowed to walk round the many stalls, and were given $10 each to spend there as they chose.  They chose chocolate, of course.  Chocolate with bonus Freddo Frog sunglasses in Cherub's case


As per usual, we patted animals in the animal nursery...


... and admired cats in the cat section.  In fact, we were quite lucky because as well as the cats that are there specifically for patting (mostly Burmese and Ragdolls)


... we also got to pat some more exotic breeds, the ones that are usually locked away sleeping in glass cages.  It just so happened our visit coincided with some owners coming to give their kitties a cuddle and a play, and they were quite happy to let us in on the action.  After admiring and stroking a princely looking silver Bengal, we lost our hearts to a tawny Somali who was the most affectionate and beautiful cat I've ever seen.  The kids had to be dragged away from her.


We managed a few rides as well; Fixit accompanied the big boys on the Techno Jump...


(they're blocking their ears to the hiss of the hydraulics)

I had to have my traditional whizz down the Giant Slide...

 (I tried - and failed - to persuade Jenny and Astrid to try it too, maybe next year, girls?)

 ... and the whole gang of kids went on The Magic Circus together, one of those house things where the floor goes up and down, and stuff. I seem to remember loving that sort of 'ride' best from childhood visits to Luna Park too.


We had fun in the Craft Hall too. After admiring the cakes, the kids got quite involved adding to the eco-cubby display...


... while the grown-ups enjoyed the really excellent yarn-bombing on display.

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Cherub wants me to knit a cat now.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Grade 5/6 Production

Every year at our school the kids perform in a Grade Concert, singing and dancing with their class.  It is gorgeous to watch the kids each year, and also fascinating to see their improvement and development over time.  When they are Preppies they are outrageously cute but slightly chaotic; by the time they reach grade 6 they are seasoned and capable performers.  It is really quite wonderful watching how much cleverer they get year by year, and I feel very lucky to live in an age where recording their efforts, either by concert dvds, digital cameras and even blogging, is so easy.  It means that I can look back and chart the development, and boy, they've come a long way, those babies.

Last year, Climber really got the performance bug.  Grade 5/6 is the first year where the kids work with a script, which means speaking parts for some of the kids. He'd been too shy to audition for a speaking part that year, but was regretting this by the time the show went on and was absolutely set on winning a speaking part this year. When the time came to audition he learned his monologue and even got the guts up to sing (he did Consider Yourself from Oliver! and sang both Oliver and the Artful Dodger's parts), thereby putting himself in contention for a 'lead role' rather then just a class speaking role.

He was very excited when he heard that he'd got a [small] lead role and immediately asked if he could text the professional actor in his life, who replied with delighted congratulations and the sage observation that there was no such thing as a small lead role.

After 10 weeks of rehearsal, it was finally time for the Big Night.    The show was called Pandora's Box and the basic plot was: Pandora brings together 5 other misunderstood female characters from Fairy Tales / Mythology to help her engineer the re-opening of the box of sins; three geeky boys are the unwitting openers of the box, and with help from The Greek Gods, must get the sins back in the box to save the world.

Climber was cast as Hephaestus.  This is him in his toga, ready to leave for the show.  I had to go out and specially buy a white sheet, all the single sheets in our house are either colourful or covered in motorbikes or spiderman.  Disastrously, as I applied his make-up I accidentally dropped an enormous splodge of liquid foundation on to it and we had to turn it round and re-tie it in a massive panic, with the splodge on the underside at the back and only seconds to go before he needed to be at the theatre. But we made it, he took it all very calmly, and I only swore twice. Here he is in his immortal finery.


Here he is on stage with the other Gods, acting up a storm.


He was so good, if I do say so myself. He really got into character and delivered his lines with confidence and great timing, verve and energy.


Fixit and I completely burst with pride.

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As well as the acting scenes, each class performed their own song & dance routine, based on the 7 deadly sins. (Well, most of them - lust was understandably glossed over, this is primary school after all!)  Greed featured a medley of Money songs, Vanity was One Singular Sensation from A Chorus Line, Pride (the teacher's routine) was I Am A Pirate King from the Pirates of Penzance, (awesome fun, you really can't go wrong with some G&S!)

Climber's class did Sloth, to a song called I'm Waiting For the World to Change, dressed as Gen Y - the shirts I helped print looked fab! - and they performed most of their routine sitting down.  Climber was also a knock-out in this, and in fact I have no idea what any other child did in that routine when he was in the front row because we couldn't take our eyes off him!


His years of dance training stood him in good stead, but his stage presence was excellent too.  Stage Mother Pride Dial had pretty much exploded past maximum by the end of that routine.


The final sin, Wrath, was a war song (Seven Nations Army), but at its close the geeky boys released Hope and the production ended with The Age of Aquarius and Let The Sun Shine In. Happy endings, beautiful inspiring children.


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It was such a good night, such a wonderful show.  The thing I liked the best about it was the commitment from the children.  Every single one of them was up there giving it everything and they all looked like they were enjoying their moment. 


The audience was glowing and buzzing with delight afterwards. Fantastic. And such a lovely high note for Climber's last year at Primary School.