Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sew much fun.

You know, you could just go to Craft Camp at Sewjourn and just sit around crafting things till you were cross-eyed, with a bit of chat and food in between. Or you could come to our Craft Camp and you could:
  • enjoy a blissy massage from the lovely Kaye of Green Frog Massage who is very good with the relaxo stuff but also strong enough to snap raw corn cobs into thirds when required.
  • have a mini tap lesson on the verandah. (I must commend Eleanor here and now for her extraordinary potential, she really was the rootinest-tootinest tapper in the wild wild west)
  • enjoy one of Shula's high-quality coffees, as you see Eleanor doing here. Shula brought her own coffee machine with her. I think I may have explained before how the 'camp' part of Craft Camp is maybe a bit of an understatement for how we live there.
  • learn to do your craft even when one or more large cameras are whirring away in your face. There was almost a riot on the last day when Shula sat down in the studio with her fabulous embroidery.

... which then led to this madness.

  • play a game of Pictionary so loud that it could be heard from across the highway, and in the process learn about Steiner camels and exotic sapphires, and how one person's microphone is another's cul-de-sac.
from L-R: Kaye, Yuki, Eleanor, Jan, Suse, Lisa, Kate, Janet.
(And apparently we are still partly playing that same game of Pictionary over in this comment box)

And in between all those larks, you could also craft till you were cross-eyed. Although. I was much less productive this time, partly because I was there for less time, partly because it took me a while to accustom myself to Jen's machine, and partly because I was following a pattern from scratch which my non-technical brain found challenging.

But voila! I made a teatowel for myself, and I made this little skirt for my niece.

DSC_2705 DSC_2789

There was more, of course, much more, but I'm looking forward to reading those bits when the others blog it. Meantime I'd like to say a huge thank you to all the girls who came along and made it such fun: Kate with her pretty blue hair and our special connection over a Pictionary board, Lisa who regaled us with stories of the Worst Date Ever (let's just say that you oughtn't ask a quilter about her "blankies"), Yuki who let me use her overlocker and quietly helped me with the intricacies of making a tiered skirt, Jan (Sewjourn's owner) who gave me gorgeous rainbow-presents (part of a swap) and quilty help to first-time quilter Suse, Kaye who brings her mobile massage magic to the Princess Room and makes you feel like a Princess in the process, Eleanor who flew all the way from Sydney to be with us, Shula who drove me there-and-back and helped me cook dinner (I must also confess here that my Mum helped me cook dinner too, by preparing the spanakopita mix for me, thanks for that Mum, they loved it). Extra-special thanks to the two wonderful organisers - Janet who employed the ruffle-foot on her machine to great effect and Suse who made the most gorgeous quilt picnic blanket lap quilt out of vintage sheets. It really was an excellent weekend with a great bunch.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cherub starts soccer.

Cherub started soccer for the very first time today, and he was just so excited..


but the Climber had a bit of a mood on.

He's growing, it always makes him moody. He did cheer up once he got there.

From the tap hall where I was, I heard the rain start to bucket down at precisely the moment they were due to kick off. Here's how that looked:

soccer rain2614

Fixit took lots of photos in which I can see that the Cherub had an absolute blast but I'm not showing you those ones because this one of his face when the other side scored is funnier:

the other side scores

That's all I've got time to tell you about though because I'm off to Craft Camp!
See you when I get back Cx.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

High Chitty Low Chitty Everywhere We Go Chitty

I started a whole bunch of new routines in the Kids' Tap Classes last Saturday, which is always fun. You can tell when a new tap term is starting because of the startling amount of time and money I suddenly start spending at iTunes. I do love iTunes though. Before iTunes was invented, if I wanted a song I'd have to buy the whole album and although that could occasionally lead to the discovery of more good songs, the single-song purchase is far more economical.

I went a little bit Broadway this term, after one of the grandparents mentioned it was lovely for the kids to hear the old songs. Annoyingly, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was not available as a single song download and I didn't want to buy the whole album so the littlies are dancing to a Chipmunks version. It's funny so far but I'm wondering if I'll hate it by the end of term. While I was in the Chipmunks part of iTunes I also somehow ended up with their versions of Funkytown and All The Single Ladies (whoa-oh-oh whoa-oh oh oh) I don't know, I just quite liked them. It was pretty funny playing the Chipmunks to the kids, we had to halt class for a bit because they wanted to discuss the funny singing and when I said it was The Chipmunks it all segued into them all telling me about what movies they'd seen.

Anyway, the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious routine as performed by the Junior Shufflers was a clear winner with participants and audience alike. Nell tells me that class gets all the best routines, because they did Woody's Round-Up last term and that was her fave, even if it gave her a permanent ear-worm.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My brush with the law.

The kids tap classes started back this morning after a 2 week holiday, and when we'd finished the Cherub and I headed to the local bakery where we always pick up some pastries for lunch. We had to wait while Fixit dropped Climber off at a party, so in order to get out of the bright warm sunshine, we headed into our school's shady playground. Another family we knew passed by and the other mum said to me I was a bit worried about the Aftercare door there being open, but I guess you're there so it's okay? Of course I hadn't even noticed that the school door was unlocked so then we thought it was a worry and stuck our heads in to look. It really didn't look like there'd been a burglary, more like someone hadn't secured the door properly, and we debated what to do. I decided to call my friend who works in the school office and she said she'd get onto the authorities, meanwhile we also worked out that we couldn't lock the door except by doing it from the inside, so the other mother went through the classrooms to find if there was a fire exit she could get out if we were to do this. By then I'd spoken to my friend-from-the-office and we figured somebody in authority would be on their way soon. The other family left and Cherub and I stayed on, waiting for the authorities and Fixit. The authorities turned up first in the shape of 2 policemen. Turns out all school buildings have very good (and quiet!) security alarms connected straight to the police station, so in fact the authorities for whom I was waiting so calmly were actually an Emergency Response Team, and after taking my details and a good look at the situation I received a little lecture about never going in (a) because of the alarms and the subsequent botheration to police and (b) in case a mean burglar was still inside. Then the other cop took me aside and gave me basically the same kindly lecture. I guess I also have the note from the school principal in next week's newsletter to look forward to; something along the lines of some well-meaning parents wasted police time is my guess.

In other news some very nice stuff arrived in my mailbox: a gorgeous hat from Stacey at Sheeps Clothing, an exchange for the Miss Caroline Tap Dance shirt I gave her. Isn't it lovely? This is the last of this pretty wool so it is extra special.

sheeps clothing hat

And the second of my teatowel swaps, this one from Kate at Craftastrophies who also sent a little tea-flower and a cute novelty tape-measure and some Haigh's chocolate - a frog, of course, you have to have a frog if you buy chocolate from Haigh's, and two little Easter Eggs which I almost gave to the kids until I realised they were the good chocolate. I'm pretty stoked to have a slightly edgy teatowel, even if Fixit and I are probably 2 of the most naturally cautious people you'll ever meet. Our kids have no hope.

teatowel from craftastrophes

Monday, April 12, 2010


I told my tap class I was heading to Kennett River for a mini-break with the kids and one of my students mentioned there are lots of koalas in that area. I don't remember ever having seen a koala in the wild, and it has become one of my ambitions, along with seeing whales out to sea. Anyway, after farewelling Fixit (who had to stay home to fix up the new old motorbike) and setting off in the unaccustomed comfort and luxury of my Dad's car (kindly lent to us to smooth over Fixit's temporary loss of transport), and driving through Deans Marsh and Winchelsea (accompanied by a talking book of Coraline read by Dawn French, fantastic), and over the mountains (where Cherub was nearly carsick) to Lorne, followed by 30 minutes of driving torture along the steep, winding, spectacular Great Ocean Road (the worst part of the drive as far as I was concerned, I hate driving near cliff edges) we pulled up on the long steep gravelly driveway of the holiday house my step-mother had organised, and, as we stepped out of the car my uncle and father pointed to the tree above us and said See the koala?

first koala 2

He was the front-yard koala and he stayed there, visible from the family room window, all weekend.

Then as the boys ran around exploring and testing out the backyard play equipment...


...the call came up: Another koala, this one actually moving, climbing a tree. I have to tell you that there is something very cute about a koala's little round furry bum as it climbs up high.

Koala in the backyard

Look at it! Isn't it adorable?

The next day I came across this little bundle, so relaxed in his proximity to human lifeforms that he'd climbed up a little sapling tree for a feed and was therefore almost at eye level.

Koala in a small tree (Kennett River)

Climber came over to try and feed him but the Lala wasn't interested in the proffered gum leaves and puffed himself up and flattened his ears if we got too close.

Koala, so close! 34

The next morning, two of the koalas were still visible and I took this video footage of the backyard koala.

Then we were graced by a visit from a magnificent kookaburra...

Kookaburra on the balcony 114

... who let me get much closer than I thought he would, but declined our offering of food.

Kookaburra 124

And later that day, we heard excited shouting from the folk on the balcony: there were some whales passing by. Oh my goodness, all my wildlife ambitions realised in one weekend!

Well. When I say there were whales, what we actually saw were spouts of water being blown up every few minutes, and it really was a long way out to sea so capturing the action was a bit hit and miss. However if you look at a great big version of my picture here you can just see 2 spouts. If you can't be bothered doing that, just squint really hard near the arrow in the pic below and look for 2 white smudges. There! Whales!

We were also blessed with a very nice rainbow...

Rainbow over Bass Strait 20

..and of course a fun play on the beach, though owing to the fact that I don't own a wetsuit, the boys were limited to jumping waves from the shallows, playing with the sandbank area where the Kennett River met the ocean..


...and jumping round some rockpools.


I don't think they really minded!

We headed back home after lunch on Saturday, and the boys and I agreed that we would highly recommend talking books as terrific travelling companions for long drives. We finished Coraline not long after passing through Lorne, so then we put on Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception. I don't like long-distance driving but talking books kept my mind really clear as I drove, kept the kids interested (and, more importantly, quiet!) and made the journey shorter. We would also highly recommend a visit to Kennett River for anyone hoping to see Australian wildlife!

The Cherub, demonstrating an alternative method of descending a staircase. Both kids did their own packing from a list I gave them; somehow Cherub missed the line that said shorts/pants.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Both the boys are heavily into Harry Potter at the moment. We are currently reading Book 3 to the Cherub, and based on our rule of you can't watch the movie til you've read the book, he is now allowed to watch the first two movies, resulting in any television time he was allowed becoming Potter Time. Climber had already had the first 6 books read to him, but after Dumbledore's death at the end of Book 6 he refused to read on. But earlier in the year one of his closest friends (Astrid-from-Mother's-Group's-firstborn) had a Harry Potter party for her 9th birthday, one which was very impressively run by her parents featuring a sorting hat, a treasure hunt, butterbeer and best of all, a duel with wands that Climber won. And what with that, and the Cherub's interest, and a few gentle nags from me, Climber announced last week that he was ready for me to read Book 7 to him. At which point I realised that I couldn't really read it at night-time because we are only part way through Book 3 for his brother and it would be too confusing. I did offer to set aside some other time to read it to him, but he girded his loins and started reading it himself. So far he has dealt with 3 deaths and the loss of an ear and seems to be coping. Not sure how he'll go during the final blood-bath but that's a while away yet. Meantime he decided he wanted to have his own Harry Potter party and seeing as his next birthday is still some 10 months away, we invited Astrid's gang over, decorated the house and made a day of it.



Crafty's mob also came over and ran around, and they certainly got involved with the wizard spell-throwing duel, but I think Climber's big plan to capture some escaped Dark Wizards never quite came to fruition, despite the effort Climber had put in the day before, making a copy of the Wizarding Newspaper. I think a raucous game of Hide and Seek might have distracted them.

Anyway, after Crafty's mob went home, the three Harry Potter fan-kids decided to play Quidditch.

quidditch 2349

Cherub and Astrid's girl were Chasers, ie the goal-scorers whose job it is to throw the Quaffle through the hole in the trampoline netting I mean goalposts, and Climber with a 'bat' (made from a play ten-pin), was a Beater. For those of you not up on Quidditch rules, the Beater's job is to prevent their team-mates from being hit by a super mean head-seeking missile ball called a Bludger. So in order to have realistic Bludger action, Astrid and I were called into service to hurl balls at our offspring. If we hit them they had to lie down on the ground and count to 10 before rejoining the game. Astrid and I both felt a bit mean actually but it was also very funny when we lined them up and hit them.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt

I have to say that when it comes to organising treasure hunts, Climber puts me to shame. I documented this one way back when, and he also recently set up a magnificent one for Fixit. In fact, I think every treasure hunt that we've had in this house has been organised by The Climber. So this year at Easter, given that we were spending it at home, I decided to set up an Easter Egg hunt for the boys. And now that I'm all crafty-like, this involved whipping up a couple of bodgy baskets the night before, no easy task because I just made up the design as I went along, and my machine had to be repaired several times during the process (thank goodness for having a captive Fixit). The baskets are extremely wonky but the boys were pleased.


Anyway. I told the boys to stay inside while I ran around the backyard hiding their eggs; 5 small ones each plus a big Star Wars Egg-&-Pez-Dispenser each. Then I wrote out a list of clues for them both and they had to take it in turns to find each egg.



It was hard to catch photos of the Climber during the search, he was extremely smart about working out the clues and very quick off the mark to unearth them. Here he is finding Clue 3: I hope the birds don't get this one first.


And I had to give him one which involved climbing. It said : If you wave at [next-door-baby] you might find this one.


Cherub's were much simpler, and he needed help at first (Don't be late, open the ....). Door? he said, scratching his head. Well, what rhymes with late, sweetie, that you can open? Aha!


But by the time we got to You will JUMP for joy to find this one, he was working them out for himself.


The last clue was for the Main Prize. Climber went first, and when the Big Star Wars Egg was discovered we of course immediately heard a brotherly cry of It's Not Fair! until we pointed out that there was still one more clue for him to solve.




I also hid some Lindt eggs for Fixit, despite the fact that he never gets me anything for Easter. Which is okay really, I can't exactly claim a chocolate shortage round here.


Then, mindful that Climber loves to do this sort of thing, I gave the boys a handful of eggs to hide for us. In true form, Cherub just ran around stashing mine away and pretty much told me where to find them (except for the one he couldn't remember and lucky his brother had been paying attention) and Climber went and wrote little clues for Fixit to solve.


So what with the stash left by the Easter Bunny plus goodies from a friend and my Dad, the kids now have a LOT of chocolate. It'll be rationed out as an after-dinner reward for good eating over a few weeks, or at least that is the plan.

Hope you had a Happy Easter too, and that the Bunny was good to you.