Wednesday, October 29, 2008

There's so much cleaning up with painting

rollercherub in smock_6984

Even though I re-painted them in January, my old tap boards have had it. Three plus years of constant kicking and stomping have taken their toll. They're only MDF after all. So I've had to brave Bunnings Hardware with my Dad and his station-wagon to buy some new ones. I'm trying paving paint this time, on the advice of a tap-student who has a painter husband. Pre-mixed in Forest Green. Surprisingly they didn't offer it out of the can in purple, and I couldn't actually be bothered lining up to get it tinted. I'm pretty sure I can't be bothered to adorn them with pretty stars this time either. I'm hoping the foresty-ness of the green will be excitement enough, a touch of the outdoors perhaps?

I think of myself as a happy person, one who enjoys her life. But if my schedule gets loaded up with excess stuff like painting on a muggy hot Sunday (which was also annoyingly windy enough to keep blowing the boards around) AND having to properly clean up the house - especially the junk spare room - for a week-long visit from my sister and her kids, then it turns out I'm a grumpy cow. In other words, I'm happy as long as I don't have to do too much. I should have been a princess.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Second Hand Rose

There's a funky little second hand furniture shop that we drive past on the way home from school, full of great retro stuff. I'm not actually in the market for any furniture (except a comfortable new couch, ie one that we can actually sit on for any length of time, and for that we need Ikea) but a few weeks ago a dining setting caught my eye. No prizes for guessing why: it was purple of course. As we flashed by in the car I thought ooh, purple chairs!! but I kept driving. The next day they were still there and seeing as purple chairs are a rarity I decided to check them out. Six purple swivel chairs, lushly padded with a round laminate table, $180 the lot. But being an idiot I told the guy I'd check with the other half, I didn't want them to be an impulse buy. Fixit, bless his heart, heard my spiel (about how my Grandmother's gold chairs, whilst lovely, were like planks of wood to sit on and I could keep them to use for if and when I ever get my own tap studio and how a round table might go really nicely in the family room and how the chairs, after all, were PURPLE) and agreed we ought to get them. He and my Dad went there the next morning to get them. And they were gone.

Of course I should have put $20 on them at the time, but I'm a retro furniture novice. So I tried to tell myself It Was A Want Not A Need, but deep down I was very disappointed and I truly believed I would never see another set of purple chairs ever.

Until last week!!

New purple chairs and big table_6971

Complete with a larger than the old one laminate table, for only $200 the set.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Tap Party

The sort of birthday party I give my children is the one where you provide sweet stuff to eat and drink, a fancy birthday cake and some space for the little darlings to run around in. But I'm practically a luddite in this regard, because giving your child an extra-special party is what we like to do in Melbourne. There are so many options for the birthday child. Bowling parties, play centre parties, cooking parties, fairy parties, karate parties (I love that one, only 'cos it rhymes) and swimming parties. Or if you want to stay at home you can hire a fairy or a magician, a jumping castle or a fire-truck. The list goes on. As a mother I've witnessed quite a lot of these parties and my boys have both had themselves a good time as attendees. But when I got a call a few months ago to ask if I could "do" a Tap Dancing Party for a soon-to-be 7 year old, I really wasn't sure. For a start, doing a party each per year for my own children tuckers me out. And then, I've been to enough mass parties with an unruly mob of youngsters (mostly boys, which can get v-e-r-y unruly) to have felt pity for the person in charge of the little party-goers. I have actively thought I'm glad that's not me doing that.

But a job's a job. So I didn't flat out refuse. I had a little think instead. I thought about venue and price, ways and means. My tap school operates out of a community centre, where there is a No Parties Policy. Well, they let me hold my big party there but that was a special occasion. I didn't feel like pulling in special favours for this gig, especially when I realised that that would mean I'd have to be there early to unlock and no doubt involved in cleaning up prior to locking up too. I hate cleaning up. So I couldn't cut her the sort of deal I think she was hoping for, where she brought the kids and the party food to my place. I also researched what a fairy would charge to work her magic at a party (and got the ammunition for this post at the same time) and calculated if that was enough money to get me out of bed. And I decided it was, if I could do it on my terms.

So I said:
  • I'll come to a venue of your providing (must have wooden floor) for one hour.
  • I'll play tap dance based games.
  • I'll have some little slip-on tap plates for them to wear on their feet.
  • I'll make up and teach them a special routine.
  • I'll charge this much money.

And rather to my surprise (I'm not cheap!) this was all agreed to. Fortunately the Mum is a terribly nice woman (and her daughter is delightful as well) so she was thoughtful enough to ask if there were limits to the number of guests, something I'd not thought to stipulate, which meant that I was able to say that bringing more than 15 guests would necessitate an assistant and that that would cost her extra. After more talks, we set an upper limit of 20 guests as a manageable total, but, as you do, she invited a few more thinking some would not be able to make it. Every single child she invited, including the little friend from Adelaide, decided to come. Which made 22, but that was okay.

tap party6939

In fact, and this is partly because they were such a nice bunch of children, it didn't matter at all. With my glamorous assistant, the lovely Miss Kaye, on board, (she spent the first part of the party being awesome dealing with the my tap-plates have broken! calls* that rang round the room, turns out araldite wasn't quite strong enough and lucky I brought along my trusty roll of gaffer tape) we turned up to a hired hall -with a wooden floor- and proceeded to give those children a tap party. It was fun. We played a few games that sneakily also introduced tap concepts like digs and knocks and jumps and stamps. We pieced together some moves. A few of them started to wilt round the edges and Kaye whispered in my ear that a drink break would be a good thing. When they were refreshed we took all the bits they'd learned, and assembled them into a routine. Then we ran it through once. Some of the wilty edge-stragglers thought it was all over then, but No! I'm sorry, we can't let you have birthday cake unless you do it Once More With Feeling! (I wish I could say that to all my tap students.)

The birthday girl had a lovely party and I think all her friends did too. And guess what? I enjoyed myself too.

*They didn't all break I hasten to add, Mister Fixit is handier than that! One in five maybe? And you know, it 's noticeable that it was mostly the boys' ones that did break...

Monday, October 20, 2008


Climber was so besotted with our neighbours' newborn baby that he came home and wrote her a list of magic wishes for her future, and I think if all these come true she will have a very good life indeed.

wishes for a new baby180371

these are some wishes for you.
1.I hope you grow up to be a nice and kind person
2.I hope you have a very happy and cheerful life.
3. I hope you get some good toys
4.I hope you get some very nice friends.

I went to the Sister's Market on Saturday with Nell and Crafty and found some little things I liked, plus had some good catch-ups with some ace chicks. I commissioned some boy-pants with cat for the Cherub from Tracey at Fat Mumma's and bought one of these little pack of grooving transfers from Shannon so I guess I'll actually have to sew them on to something now; I'm pretty sure I can manage a reasonable blanket stitch. I also picked up a few of Pollipop's little hair-ties, because I was so besotted with the little black cat ones I bought myself from Creamrose at Etsy. I think the teapot one might stay mine, but the others will go the present box to be used when required. I'm trying to think of ways to buy handmade stuff for Christmas where possible.

I had to work during Astrid's middle child's birthday party and therefore missed observing how the pressures of a three-legged race can drive a wedge between otherwise loving brothers. This is them before it all went pear-shaped.

three legged race 190406

Astrid and I treated ourselves to a night at the movies where we saw Brideshead Revisited at a special movie club screening. I know most people have been saying why would you bother? about making this film because of the excellent 1981 TV series, but I enjoyed it. I was much more aware when I watched this movie of how central the Brideshead family's Catholicism was to the story, but this could be because I'm much older and *ahem* wiser, and not just watching all the lovely frocks and scenery and cars and adoring Anthony Andrews. (Although I will say I don't think they dressed Julia nearly as nicely in the movie version, so I'm obviously still watching the fashion side of things). They made Sebastian much more effeminate in the movie version, although I think the actor who played Charles Ryder this time pitched his performance at nearly the same level as Jeremy Irons. Also, to top off a good night, I won a free copy of the book.

And the Climber finally, FINALLY, won a Caught Being Good Award at school. I was beginning to think there was something wrong, surely my child with his good manners and gentle nature had been caught being good at least once in his 2 and 3/4 years at the school? Well he has now, for being consistent with his work. And serendipitously, Fixit had been given the day off work today so we were both there to see him receive his prize.

caught being good_6944

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You Can Stop The Music.

I don't really want to talk about our tap performance last weekend. I don't even really want to think about it. I'll just keep telling myself that I was juggling a lot of stuff lost week (2 big parties at our house, a trip away) and stop beating myself up about not being more thorough with my technical preparation. I swear the cd burner on my computer used to work. And I thought I'd done the right thing by bringing my memory stick and a blank cd to the airport so my sister could burn the cd for me with her laptop; which she did, easy-peasy. But we were about to rush off to catch the flight to Launceston so neither of us thought to check the wretched thing and I couldn't check it when I got back to Melbourne the next day because my computer is spazzing about reading cds and our actual cd players at home are so old that they don't reliably read perfectly good burned cds anyway. And I couldn't find my ipod output cord anywhere - I looked, I did! - and I didn't think hoping the techies at the festival would have an input jack was in the realms of hopeless fantasy. And whilst in hindsight I could have brought along a previously burned cd to at least cover the songs the children would dance to, I just didn't have my act together enough to do that. I have to stop thinking about it now, it's done, we coped, I can't change it. I especially won't think about how cranky and embarrassed the whole thing made Fixit (Mister Glass-Half-Empty, always sees the worst) and how him letting me know how mortified he was and how hopeless he thought I was tainted all the goodwill our romantic trip away generated.


So I'm just going to think about how beautifully all my little dancers rose to the challenge of tapping without their music, how the children looked up at me with smiling, shiny faces and did everything I asked so beautifully and looked like they had a good time. And how my brave Tap-pets (the grown-ups) did their stuff a'cappella on a stage as slippery as ice, and gladdened my heart with the way they worked with me and carried it off as though that was how it was planned in the first place. I'm only going to think about how nice everyone was to me about it afterwards, and not think about what they must have thought of me as they were being so nice.

Because that's how we roll in Glass Half Full Land.

Monday, October 13, 2008


So it was just Fixit and me, on our own, for 24 hours in a small city. The Cherub was in his Nell's capable and loving hands and the Climber went off on his own adventure with his best friend's family to a holiday farm in Alexandra.

Fixit, being a mechanical type and a speed freak, thought the flying part was definitely one of the highlights, whilst I was glad that I had the final instalment of the Twilight series to distract me from my white-knuckled thoughts about what a long way up we were.


It was too early in the morning to check into our hotel, so we decided to drive north up the Tamar river and look at historic Georgetown. (Apparently Australia's oldest town and here was me thinking that title belonged to Botany Bay.) Anyway, we must have missed the good bits of historic Georgetown because what we saw was a lot of clapped out 70's fibro beach shacks. But the lighthouse at Low Head was definitely worth seeing and I waved at Melbourne from the other side of the Bass Strait. As you do. Until your other half looks at you like you're a crazy person.

Low Point Lighthouse_6861

We drove back south to Launceston and lunched in the CBD where we ate the best calamari ever. And we strolled around and admired the prettiness of the architecture and marvelled at how steep it was. And did the Melbourne city-slicker thing where we couldn't quite fathom how close everything was and how easy it was to drive around.

Before a great dinner at the Marina (but after our deluxe spa bath; I am bath-deprived at home so a hotel room with a nice big bath was a must) we took a twilight stroll round The Gorge, a fantastic bit of wilderness right next to the city centre.

The Gorge_6900

The next morning we had an hour to kill before our flight home so we had a second, proper, look at the historic town of Evandale and were very glad that we did. (So pretty!) Even more so when we found that the Sunday market was on. And look, it was a bit expensive to get in, but definitely worth it once we coughed up.

If we'd had more time and had not been limited to carry-on luggage only, we might have spent a fair bit of money there. But we managed a few presents and some jam and came away content.

It's good to have some time away with just your partner. But on the other hand, it was lovely coming home to see our boys again. Next time we might even take them too.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Oh my head

2.50pm Still baking the cakes and organising the decoy family dinner, and feeling menaced by the towering stack of dishes at my elbow. Ring a friend to see if she could pick the Climber up from school for me to give me more time.

3.15pm Drive frantically to school, realise that it's just as well my friend couldn't pick Climber up because I needed to come down thisaway to collect the food platters from my friends at the cafe. Wonder how I can get the platters and a bag of ice into the car without the blabbermouths kids asking too many hard questions.

3.35pm Almost refuse to let Climber have play in the park with a friend, then realise that I've been given my solution to the platter dilemma.

4.00pm Home again, boys catch me icing the 4 birthday cakes (they're all the same, I'm not that ambitious) so reluctantly allow them to 'help' with the application of smarties. Regret this several times throughout the early evening when Cherub keeps requesting the cake with the blue smarties.

4.15-5.15pm Dish-washing interspersed with sooky Cherub-wrangling. (I'm saaaa-ad.) Realise Climber left his schoolbag at park with friend (oh well) and that mopping the floor will not happen.

5.15pm Everything pretty in control now. Stuff stashed all over the house. Fixit arrives home. He changes into a really unattractive set of relaxo-clothes (oh well) and opens the fridge to look for a birthday beer. Suddenly starts looking a bit closer at all the beers and says there's a dozen light beers in here, where did they come from? Did someone bring beers to Cherub's party? Luckily I have anticipated this so just blame my Dad which is plausible as he is always helping with the catering.

5.45 - 6.45pm Lovely roast lamb dinner, lovely birthday cake. I say you're having a second beer? to Fixit and he looks at me like what's your problem and I think -again- oh well. Whisk boys through bathtime, looking good to have stories read and them in bed with plenty of time to spare. Except, the one job ...THE ONE JOB... that Fixit feels like doing all evening is to pack up his birthday cake, which I'd planned to leave out with the candles in it as a nice touch, and as he's busy cutting it up into little pieces for his lunch tomorrow and putting the rest away, he discovers 2 of the other 3 cakes I'd made and asks about that. Fortunately he is completely suckered by my I just wanted to make a round cake this time which meant I had excess batter excuse. He doesn't ever find the 4th cake which is very cleverly hidden in the display dresser near the front door.

6.46pm. Doorbell rings, Fixit's brother and partner and kids arrive, playing it cool like they'd just decided to drop round. Fixit very pleased to see them. Our kids go wild having joyful play with their cousins, but somehow we still get stories done. By this time I've confided in Climber so he's co-operative. Fixit's brother and co are in on the surprise but can't stay because of the kids so we farewell them and then I hustle our boys into bed.

7.10pm First guests arrive, Fixit still has no idea and thinks it's a massive coincidence even though he hasn't seen one of those friends for ages. I start hauling drinks, glasses and food out from hiding places while Fixit chats happily to friends.

7.25pm. More guests arrive. Fixit looking happily bewildered at which point I say maybe you'd like to put a nicer shirt on? He comes out in a slightly nicer jumper. He's still trying to take it all in.

8ish The penny really drops, people are rocking up and giving him presents. Fixit calls me a sly dog, but not in an unhappy way. He also disappears to put an even nicer shirt on, we joke if anyone else turns up he'll upgrade to a suit.

9ish. Fixit says so THAT'S why you commented on the second beer thing.

10ish. I look at the filthy floor and think thank goodness I didn't get round to mopping.

11.45pm Last guests leave. Evening a success. Realise have MORE alcohol in the house after the party than we did before. Oh well.

12.15pm. Fall into bed and get told I have a smug smile on my face, which is true. Fixit very happy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Crazy insane bat-month

So October is crazy insane bat-month for us. All these birthdays. Hot on the heels of Cherub's 5th comes Fixit's 40th, then we whoosh along to Bertie and Nell, and let's not even mention all our little and big friends who were also born in this crazy insane bat-month.

Anyway, to celebrate Fixit turning the big Four-OH! a friend has bought us tickets for a little overnight jaunt to Launceston. (Isn't jaunt a great word? I'm going on a jaunt.) So that seemed a good enough way to celebrate; farm the kids out, hop on a plane, stay in a posh hotel, and have ourselves a romantic night away. (And by the way, you would think a wise couple would not get themselves any more of this action before a dirty weekend away, but this is crazy insane bat-month remember, so hell, crack out the antibiotics once more! Woohoo.)

And then, crazily, insanely, then I thought - because I am crazy insane bat-woman - that maybe Fixit's family and friends might like to get in on this celebrating Fixit being 40 lark so I decided to organise a surprise drinkies for him tonight. Let it be stated now that in the history of surprise parties this will have to go down as the most half-arsed low-rent surprise party ever, but hey! It's the half-arsed low-rent thought that counts, right? When Fixit was taking the boys swimming last Friday I broke into his phone and started ringing people. With instructions to turn up at our place any time after 7 (i.e. after dinnertime, and after the kids -touch wood - are virtually if not actually in bed) for a birthday drink. The good thing about hosting two parties in 4 days is that the house is still mostly presentable, so cleaning is not an issue. And there is some alcohol in the house, but not, obviously enough for however the fuck many people are coming tonight, so yesterday I went to Dan Murphy's Liquor Store and stared, bewildered at the slabs of beer until a kind employee took me under his wing. So I've been stashing alcohol round the house and trying to work out where the fuck the esky is so I can chill the slab (note to self, buy ice!), and hoping Fixit won't notice that hidden in the fridge behind the leftover beers from Cherub's party are another dozen light beers. Then, as I bought a takeaway coffee at our favourite cafe and was telling the guys about my crazy insane bat-plans, they offered to fix up a couple of platters of dips and breads at bargain-basement price, and I could hardly refuse that kind offer. So I dropped off my empty platters on the way to school and will pick them up filled with food when I collect Climber later today. And I've got 4 hours to think of a plausible excuse for said platters because our kids are blabbermouths and as such have not been informed of my crazy insane bat-plans.

So on my still to-do list today I have:
  • Dishes
  • Blog about it. Wait, how did that get on here?
  • Birthday cake(s)
  • Mop floor
  • Cook nice family dinner (because that's all -I think- he's expecting for tonight)
  • Buy ice
  • Pick up platters
  • Get kids fed, bathed, story-ed and bedded really early without Fixit cottoning on
  • Convince Fixit to wear one of his new birthday shirts
And I think that's it. Phew. The rest I can do when people start knocking at the door. That's the surprise element, that coincidentally a whole heap of his friends and family will be rocking up to wish him many happy returns. No hiding behind the couch in the dark required. See? Definitely low-rent. Meanwhile here's hoping that no-one's blabbed to Fixit. (He shaved this morning, do you think that's suspicious?) I am also hoping that people actually remember to turn up and also that there is enough beer for the male contingent and that none of them stay too late (school night) or disturb the sleeping children. That's not too much to hope, right?


I'm definitely crazy and insane bat-woman. But he is worth it.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Somebody once said to me of having children that the days are long but the years are short. It's so true. I still think of this place as the new house, and yet I was 6-months pregnant with Cherub when we arrived, and all of a sudden he just turned 5. Just like that, bang. He is now a proper Big Boy. Well, according to him anyway. In my heart he's still my baby. My bay-bee!!!

He's been counting down to the big day for ages, since before my birthday in June. My stock answer to how many sleeps till my birthday? was A hundred! until we came into the last month. Then he started counting back from 32, assisted eventually by a special tick chart because although he was always right (Chenty-nine sleeps till my birfday!) he kept wanting confirmation (is it 29, Mummy?) which meant I needed to keep checking the calendar.

People have started asking me what I'll do with myself when he starts school next year, and the answer is: Miss him. I mean sure, I'll build up the tap business, get some proper choreography done and help out at school and stuff, but to be honest, I'm more than a bit worried about how lonely I'll feel. Cherub is my little chum, and he's just the nicest companion. We love hanging out together, doing our stuff. We hold hands and skip together down the street. I can take him anywhere and we'll enjoy ourselves, because he's so obliging and sweet-tempered. I love the funny conversations, the earnest look he gets in his eyes when he's telling me something very important (usually about trains). I love the bum-dances, the way he can play quietly at home for hours so that I can do my thing, the way he is still so helpful, the way he pipes up suddenly twenty times a day I love you Mummy, which NEVER gets boring or commonplace. I love his ready laugh and I love just looking at his sweet face.

cherub at party_6821

Seeing as I can't put a brick on his head to stop him growing up and away, I'll settle for wishing him Happy Birthday instead. (My baby.)