Saturday, January 25, 2014

My firstborn is a teenager now.

Unbelievable. Days long, years short.  It wasn't so long ago that he was these versions of himself...


.. and now, in a flash we have the teenage version. Nearly as tall as me. Very likely stronger than me, with all that swimming and gymnastics he's done. A delight.

23 Jan 2014 8:56 pm

He was five when I started this blog. He was making fairy traps in the backyard and falling asleep during car trips.  Now he waters the garden and organises his room and stationery for going back to high school, and worries about how his hair looks.

To celebrate his big birthday we rose early for a pancake breakfast ...

24 Jan 2014 7:42 am
(no photos of that so here he is opening his presents.)

... took a train trip into the city ...
24 Jan 2014 8:49 am

... saw a movie (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) ...
24 Jan 2014 9:59 am

... came home and watched some Modern Family episodes (the dvds were his birthday present)
 24 Jan 2014 1:21 pm

 ... had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant...
24 Jan 2014 6:51 pm

... and then had birthday cake at home.
24 Jan 2014 7:41 pm

I have it on Tracey's authority that teenagers are wonderful human beings and that we shouldn't assume that the adolescent years will be awful. My gut feeling is that Climber won't be awful, given his sweet nature and kind heart. I do expect him to give me cheek and question my authority, and that has started already, but he's pretty funny with it so it's not unbearable.  (Yet.) I think that what I really fear about the teenage years is the inevitable pulling away from us, his parents, and while I see on a rational level that this is something that needs to happen, I will miss the close and almost exclusive relationship that we've had. My intention is to follow Suse's example; she said once that no matter how old her children get, the rule is they must still kiss and cuddle their mother. This is a most excellent rule, and I hereby put it in writing.

24 Jan 2014 7:42 pm

Happy birthday gorgeous boy. Every day you make us happy.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Faint hearted.

The good news is that Mum's recent fainting spells were not, as first suspected, mini-strokes. It was her heart, not her brain, that was the problem.  She was having an ECG when she again passed out, and they were able to see that her heart stopped for 9 seconds. Yikes. So this afternoon she was fitted with a pacemaker.  My sister and brother are in Sydney at the moment, and I will fly up on Sunday.  We're all very relieved to hear it wasn't a stroke. Hearts are less complicated than brains. And we're also relieved to know what the problem was, and to have such a straightforward remedy. I am also getting retrospective heebie-jeebies thinking about her collapsing from heart failure when she was travelling alone in Italy last year.  It was bad enough when we thought she'd fainted. She was lucky to just have a cut on her head really.

21 Jan 2014 1:12 pm
Couch Cubbyhouse

Meanwhile, this is what happens if you leave cooking chocolate in a cupboard during a heatwave.

21 Jan 2014 4:26 pm

21 Jan 2014 5:10 pm
We were able to use it all up in a very nice batch of brownies so all's well that ends well.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A little scare and a round-up.

19 Jan 2014 8:54 am

My mum is having an overnight stay in hospital following a funny turn. The diagnosis at this stage is that it may have been a mini-stroke so they are keeping her in for tests and observation. Fortunately my sister has been staying with her, so was able to take care of her and get medical help. We're all hoping that Mum is okay. She has taken some crochet into hospital to keep her sane. Good plan. It's not like you can expect to get any proper rest in hospital.  We'll hear more tomorrow.

 Meanwhile, here are some bits and pieces from the homefront....
  • Although my sister's house had two bedrooms available for the kids to sleep in, my boys chose to share a room for the duration of our stay. Initially because it was too hot to sleep in a top bunk on our first night there, but afterwards really because all the lego was in the boy-cousin's room, and, I think, for the company. It has been lovely how well my two have got on this holiday.
  • Cherub woke very early on our last morning at the coast, intent on following my instructions about packing their stuff. He's so focused. He did in fact manage a bit of packing without waking Climber or myself, but then found himself at a standstill due to the slumbering brother in the way, and when I got up a bit later I found Cherub hard asleep on the lounge room couch. Very unusual, very sweet.
18 Jan 2014 8:05 am
  • Fixit brought home with him a good collection of seashells, as you do. He swears he plans to make something decorative with them, and to this end has been experimenting with various products in his shed to see what brings up the best shine. If you were thinking wax you'd be wrong.  Top results were archived with a product called Mothers Mag and Aluminium Polish, which is supposed to be used on metal. Now you know.
19 Jan 2014 10:42 pm
  • Fixit and I were both very appreciative about living with a dishwasher at my sister's place. Someone (I can't remember who) once said something to me along the lines of dishwashers still being work and drudgery, but neither of us are buying that. Dishwashers are magic. Put dirty dishes in, take sparkly clean dishes out.  So easy. And no unsightly dishes cluttering up your paltry bench space like at our house. We loves the dishwasher, it's our precious.  Bathrooms with space in them are very nice too.
19 Jan 2014 1:54 pm

  • Both boys are mad for Sherlock Holmes at the moment.  I have Series 1 and 2 on dvd, and they are on high rotation.  Series 3 has not been shown in Australia yet, but I was able to purchase the dvd from the BBC online shop, so that will be a good birthday present for Climber.  (This will be much better than waiting for a commercial television station to air it here.) Meanwhile, the boys got into character to watch it today.

20 Jan 2014 7:09 pm

Friday, January 17, 2014

Goodbye Heatwave, Goodbye Beach

17 Jan 2014 3:06 pm

We were at the beach when the cool change started to blow in this afternoon. We could see it in the sky, coming across the water. And then, in an instant, the hot wind blasting from the north which had been roasting everything, was replaced by a beautiful refreshing southerly.  Suddenly the flat sea became choppy, and everyone was smiling. Next thing we knew virtually everyone was packing up their stuff and heading home, and although we lingered a bit longer than most, to have just one last dip in the water, we were soon on our way too. Time to open up the hot house and let in the good air.

17 Jan 2014 3:49 pm

What a relief, what a welcome relief. The last two days of the heatwave were hard. I stopped caring about keeping things clean, or picking things up.  I avoided clothes where possible. I let the kids have icecream after icecream from the stash in the freezer. They couldn't believe their luck. My sister's house got impossibly hot, so we turned on all the fans, ran a cold bath for hopping into when necessary, and I  spent most of the evening with my feet in a bucket of water, sipping on a Gin and Tonic, aka icecream for grown-ups. Actually I had icecream as well.

17 Jan 2014 3:05 pm

We have had such a lovely break though. So good to get away from Melbourne, so good to be at the beach every day. The kids have had a lot of fun, and got on together very harmoniously. They have also been getting blonder and more tanned each day, despite the hats, sunscreen and rash vests.

17 Jan 2014 3:05 pm

Not me though. I was most definitely the whitest pair of legs on the beach. And the tops of my feet are slightly burned after today too. I'm glad my kids didn't inherit my fair skin.

17 Jan 2014 3:04 pm

Sadly, I can't say the cat enjoyed his beach holiday. I suspect all the trauma from Basil vs. Car has made him a much less robust cat.  He was happy to be with us, but stressed out by the unknown environment. He barely ate or drank anything, and hid behind and inside furniture quite frequently, usually if he was reminded about The Different Outside.

15 Jan 2014 9:57 pm

Yesterday I tried putting some butter on his paws, something I'd read about. It makes them groom themselves which helps them relax. It did help a bit.

16 Jan 2014 10:59 am

I think it was probably the right thing to bring him down though. It has just been too hot to leave an animal untended, even with the nicest neighbours.  And I think he was looking dehydrated on the last day so we found a syringe and squirted water down his throat. It helped, and after that he perked up and shared some fish with us, the first time he'd really eaten much.

17 Jan 2014 3:08 pm

Tonight is our last night.  Fixit and Basil are already back in Melbourne. The boys and I will pack up in the morning and head home too. Big, big thank you to my sister for lending us her new house and letting us have a nice beach holiday.

17 Jan 2014 3:05 pm

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Halfway through the Heatwave.

15 Jan 2014 9:15 am

We're having a horrid heat wave in South Eastern Australia, it's completely revolting, but at least we  are not in Melbourne for the duration. Or Adelaide. Melbourne has been hit hard and all the days have been over 40 degrees.  Here on the Mornington Peninsula the temperatures are slightly lower and the sea breezes are better.  And there's the beach to get us through the unpleasantly hot days. But my sister's rental house is hot, and last night the temperature inside hovered around the 30 degree mark. Everyone had heavy eyes in the morning, and Cherub woke in the small hours sobbing his heart out from a bad dream. We never found out what it was about.

15 Jan 2014 1:34 pm

We've stuck to the surf beach at Point Leo for our last 2 beach days, but have been a bit disappointed with the lack of good waves.  The water temperature is gorgeous, and of course just standing in the sea is the world's best way to cool your body's core temperature, but if you're going to be at the beach for a while, waves are just more fun and give you something to do. Even if I were  a sunbaking type, which with my fair skin and red hair I am most definitely NOT,  a 40+ degree day is not really comfortable for any prolonged time lying on the sand. It always amazes me how many people still do
sunbake though. And I saw lots of sunburnt people yesterday. Ouch, how can they let it happen, the sillies.

15 Jan 2014 1:35 pm

Climber recognised a school friend in the water yesterday, so that was fun, introducing ourselves to and chatting with her parents, and watching Cherub and her younger sister progress in friendship to the point where they were wrestling with intent to duck each other by the time we left.  The teenagers were more reserved, chatting and laughing at the 'annoying' younger siblings' antics.

15 Jan 2014 12:29 pm

Fixit was supposed to be leaving us tonight to do a bit of casual work in Melbourne on Thursday and Friday, but owing to the heat wave it has been postponed til the weekend.  He decided to make the trip to Melbourne anyway, to collect some prescription-drugs and the cat.  We were starting to worry about Basil in the extended heat, as even though our nice neighbours were feeding and looking out for him, our closed up house was likely to be hot and wouldn't have offered him any respite. So the two of them arrived here at 8:30pm, and after 2 hours of slinking round the house, yowling and looking stressed, he has finally climbed on my lap and started to purr. Good kitty.

15 Jan 2014 8:38 pm

Apparently he meowed for the entire car trip. Luckily we are used to travelling with weird noises because of the kids. The current high-rotation phrase from the back seat is: It's pronounced "neggie", and the two of them are finding it deeply hilarious.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Less mum, more kid

Today we had another morning in Mornington (I just like saying that), visiting the Capezio shop to get some new tap shoes for Climber (size ten and a half, omg).  We also used the Mornington laundrette, and while we waited for the load to go through, we found a cafe, and I sampled, for the first time, a macaroon. Only about two years behind Australian food fads, then. I tried a mango one, it was really nice.  I don't know why I thought it wouldn't be.

13 Jan 2014 12:44 pm

I also browsed the retro clothing boutique next to the laundrette, which was having a very tempting sale.  I resisted the urge to buy things I can't afford and don't need; having the family loitering outside was helpful for that.  I think I prefer doing my shopping on the sly, crazy no? Although obviously I couldn't leave behind these groovy purple sunglasses, I'm only human.

13 Jan 2014 3:09 pm

In the afternoon, we decided to try a different surf beach on the other side of the Peninsula and ended up at picturesque Portsea. The heat wave has not quite struck but the weather was warm enough to get me in the water with my family, catching waves on my boogie-board. (which Mister Fixit damaged yesterday when he had a turn, how very dare he!) 13 Jan 2014 5:23 pm

The safe swimming area (between the surf lifesaver flags) was tiny at Portsea, I assume because the surf can be so treacherous there. This meant that riding the waves was a bit too crowded for my liking. And towards the end of our splash, I could feel the waves getting rougher, so we decided to head home, via the Rosebud sushi shop.  It was good to visit a new beach, but what with the long drive and the surfing conditions, I don't think we'll bother going back there this holiday. Our 'local' is more fun.

  13 Jan 2014 5:21 pm

While we were in the surf we came across a school-mum friend, whose little 5 year-old boy looked at me with my board and asked his Mum why an adult would have a boogie board. I love the way kids think and say unexpected stuff. And I liked how that simple question, coupled with the exhilaration of throwing myself around in the surf, made me feel: less mum, more kid.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


11 Jan 2014 12:48 pm

We've been exploring the Peninsula today, on the back of a cool change.   In the morning we visited Mornington, how apt.

11 Jan 2014 1:01 pm

We had a walk round the pier...

11 Jan 2014 12:55 pm

... and were pretty excited to see a stingray. Or maybe a manta ray, we don't really know much about fish.

11 Jan 2014 12:53 pm

The inviting-looking beach at Mornington was driving the boys crazy because we'd not brought swimmers or towels with us and no one could get in the water.  So after we'd gone home for lunch, and despite the coolish weather, we drove off in search of a surf beach.

11 Jan 2014 3:56 pm

We tried Flinders only to find it was dangerous (crumbling cliffs, strong undertows and no lifeguards), then backtracked to Point Leo, which turned out to be perfect.

11 Jan 2014 3:56 pm

The boys had a ball riding waves on their boogie boards while I shivered on the sand.

11 Jan 2014 3:57 pm

I only got Cherub out of the waves by telling him we could go there every day if he liked.  And once the heat wave arrives, I will be in the surf with the boys on my boogie board.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Owing to my sister's highly complicated Moving To [almost] Melbourne schedule, we are having a beach holiday this January despite ongoing unemployment. Hooray and thank goodness. The hot weather is making its somewhat tardy debut and our horrid house was, as usual, heating up immediately, so we are incredibly grateful to have this chance to escape it.  We had our first swim today, testing the waters of Westernport Bay, and it was freezing but so refreshing.

10 Jan 2014 6:58 pm

I finished off a sewing project last week, a dress for me -pattern from the Lovely Dress book- and it is perfect as a beach coverall.  I'm very pleased with it.

10 Jan 2014 5:15 pm

Meanwhile the kids have been delightedly trying out their cousins' Wii. I may have to give that Just Dance game a try, but not tonight, it's still very hot.

10 Jan 2014 8:42 pm

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Moochy smoochy

We've had a very moochy start to 2014. The boys seem to just want to hang about at home, watching dvds and playing on the computer or ipad. Fixit is happy to indulge this because he can potter around in his shed or hang out with his friends. And I am recuperating from that intense pre-Christmas frenzy so I've been lazy too. Most days I make the kids come for a bike ride and I've taken myself off to the gym on every possible day, and one day I cracked it and made us all clean the house from top to bottom. But it's mostly been laziness around here, laziness and cuddles, and the odd water-fight to liven things up again.

The Cherub organises us to leave the house when there is something that he wants, that he really, really wants. For example, he's been twice to see The Desolation of Smaug (the 2nd instalment of The Hobbit movie), once with me and our friend Astrid's family, and then almost immediately again with Fixit and Climber, because Climber had missed it because of being invited out with a friend. This is what the Cherub wore to watch The Hobbit, his Doctor Who fez and bow-tie and his Hobbit sword. Climber looked at him and then surprised me by saying, slightly wistfully, I wish I could still dress up like that and go out.... The sadness of starting to leave your childhood behind.

28 Dec 2013 2:13 pm

We've also made a couple of visits to shopping malls -urgh- at Cherub's instigation, because the Christmas cash and giftcards were burning a hole in his pocket. He is a very focussed child, and I just hope he is planning to take all that lego with him when he eventually moves out. We mixed things up a bit by going to Doncaster, which is more upmarket than our local. Here is a little anecdote to demonstrate the difference between Doncaster and Northland. The boys were first back to the car and waiting for me at a time when people were circling desperately in their cars, looking for a spot, any spot. A girl spoke to Fixit and decided to wait for our space. In the meantime, a nervous driver nearby, had got herself into a state about backing her car out of her space because people had parked along the wall behind her and she didn't think she could get out. When I arrived back at the car, there were about 4 cars waiting to either park or get through, and Fixit was calmly directing the nervous driver out of her spot, which, with a great deal of cajoling and patience, and a little bit of directing the other cars, he was eventually able to do. The whole time it was going on, nobody beeped their horns, there was no swearing or screeching tyres, and people smiled and thanked Fixit afterwards. Extraordinary. I shudder to think how that would have played out at good old Norflands.

30 Dec 2013 12:38 pm
Mall haul

We had a very enjoyable New Year's Eve at Astrid's house, lots of happy children splashing in the pool, lots of happy adults eating the delicious food and enjoying the excellent company...

31 Dec 2013 10:35 pm
Puddings Galore

...and two walks up Ruckers Hill to watch the fireworks over the city. Both boys stayed up to midnight for the first time, though it was touch-and-go with Cherub. He was struggling with how tired he felt anyway, and then his big brother said something moderately unkind, and Cherub couldn't quite fight off the tears and wouldn't participate in the ritual sparkler-waving ceremony on the way back.  So we went straight home after that.

This photo was taken at the 9.30 walk up the hill, which is why Cherub is participating in sparkler-waving.

It's the first time we've seen in the New Year together as a little family, how special. Our friend took this shot of us standing in the middle of High Street and watching the 9.30 fireworks.  Isn't the light gorgeous?

 4 Jan 2014 11:20 am

My brother came to Melbourne with his two boys and the kids were very keen to meet Basil.

31 Dec 2013 4:52 pm 31 Dec 2013 4:52 pm

Climber has been delighting me with a talent for making things nice around the house, including some random acts of tidying. The little herb garden out the side is flourishing due to his tender care.

9 Jan 2014 3:23 pm

He also decided he wanted his own desk this year, and worked with Fixit to construct one out of found items (Fixit's shed is a magnificently organised cornucopia of found items), and then went on to make himself a pen holder out of a loo roll, and a rubbish bin out of a bucket.

4 Jan 2014 2:14 pm

He also, following the purchase of a computer game to do with pirates, decided he really needed to watch Pirates of the Caribbean (he was too young when it was first released) and once we obtained a copy, he set up the loungeroom like a cinema.  It's so comfortable we've kept it that way.

 5 Jan 2014 8:24 am

His holidays have been reasonably sociable, with days out with friends or nights out to watch A-League soccer, and currently a 2 day stay down the coast with another friend and his family.  We are missing him a bit, so it has been nice to have the odd text and phone-call from him.

And my sister, after a very difficult few years, has left Canberra and we helped her move into her house on the Mornington Peninsula this week. Fixit was a legend of a brother-in-law and assembled all the beds for her and generally hefted stuff about, while I set up her kitchen and bedding.  It's actually a bit tricky to set up someone else's kitchen in their absence, but I'm hoping my organisation will make sense to her once she is settled in.  Our reward will be a beach holiday of our own, while she and the kids are back up north for the next fortnight.  Just in time for the hot weather which has finally hit Melbourne.

5 Jan 2014 2:02 pm