Friday, December 30, 2011


Now that we're all on holidays, we need some exercise!  The boys and I are very used to a lot of daily physical activity: me with my tap and the boys with their crazy term-time schedule.  We miss it if we don't get it.  As for Fixit, he is supposed to lose 12 kilos in 6 months. I seriously do not know how he will manage this, as I watch him hoe in without any moderation to the various Christmas temptations on offer - beers with his friend the Bike Nazi, the bottle of port and mega-Toblerone my Dad gave him (the Toblerone was gone in 2 sittings and it was ENORMOUS!) and all the chocolate I seem to have accumulated via tap students.  Attempts on my part to get him to stop after just one treat are met with surliness.  I mean, I know no-one likes a nag,  but apparently his brain doesn't send him any messages about moderation or health.  You'd think he'd be grateful for my support, but no. (Nell is never grateful when I try to encourage her to give up smoking either, go figure.)  

(Give up, Nell, you know you should!!)

Anyway.  We have been doing bike-riding in the last week.  Every little bit helps. When we ride as a family, Fixit leads the way with Climber and I ride behind the slowest member of the family, the Cherub.  Although it's not a great aerobic challenge, it is just lovely.  I love the way he chats away as he pedals, he way he dings his bell as he passes a pedestrian, the way we say I love you to each other just because the feeling comes over us.  I particularly love looking at his small rib cage from behind as he bobs up and down on his bike, and thinking about how little he still is and how tiny his heart and lungs must be.  (Is that weird?)  It is one of my favourite things to do, being out with my family on our bikes.


(I also love watching Climber on his slightly-too-big-for him bike, looking all long-legged and cool, but he is often far off in the distance so I don't see him as much)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Christmas.

Both kids were awake at 3-ish [for a toilet break] and the Cherub woke again at 5-ish [for a stealthy rummage in the Santa Sack break, which was overheard by sharp-eared mother and resulted in confiscation] and then we all came to at about 7-ish and the boys brought their booty into our bedroom.  I think the out-of-focusness of this shot exactly reflects how tired I felt at this stage.  Actually it has to be said that all that waking caught up with Cherub too, and he had a few mini-melts before lunch.  (See the kitty sitting on Fixit behind him?)


Later in the morning, after the peppermint creams (and the Climber) were coated in chocolate...


...and the adults had showered and dressed, we opened the family presents under our tree.

Scrabble was a dominant theme in my present swag.


Whereas the boys had some Star Wars stuff...


and some Doctor Who stuff.




Then it was time to drive over to the Fixit Family Lunch, where we ate a filling lunch, caught up with loved ones, opened more presents and admired Grandma Fixit's excellent collection of Santa doodads.



After that, we hit the road again to another family gathering at my Aunt and Uncle's house.  This was just when the enormous Christmas Day storms were starting to hit Melbourne.  We saw a fair bit of hail (just normal sized stones, not the golf balls that some suburbs saw) and a LOT of rain.  Big rain too, big raindrops.

Anyway, we had a very pleasant time; more family, food, more presents. Climber is now the proud owner of a digital camera with a very cute panorama setting. See?


And at about 7-ish we arrived home.  We had one very hairy drive through a road flood which was -we think- about 75cms high.  Fixit and Cherub thought it was cool, Climber and I felt quite uneasy and sighed with relief when we made it through.  And then as we approached our street we saw that the whole road was underwater at the southern end, and we had to drive around to the northern end to get into our own driveway. It started to clear not long after but in the meantime we raced down to the end of the road to capture the flood.


Nobody had any trouble falling asleep that evening, after all that fun, family and feasting! Hope you had a lovely day too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

I did some baking for our contribution to the 2 family feasts we're attending tomorrow.

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(Peppermint creams - they'll be dipped in chocolate tomorrow- and Fairlie's shortbread)

We watched the finale of So You Think You Can Dance (Season 8) all the way to the end despite the fact that the boys were flagging by about 9pm.  The idea was to have them fully tired when they went to bed so they'd fall straight asleep and not be bouncing around in bed thinking about Santa till an annoyingly late time.  We also went for a bike ride earlier today and made them run round entertaining the 3yo child of our afternoon visitors.


Then we went for a tour of the local Christmas lights.  About six houses in adjacent streets had gone to a bit of effort.


Finally we hung up the stockings and put out some treats for Santa and the reindeer.


I reckon the boys were asleep within 10 minutes of hitting the hay.  A Christmas Eve record, surely?


Hope you have a great day tomorrow! Love from us all xxxx

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Swallows and Amazons Forever!

(and death to Uncle Jim!)
I say! Have you ever read Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome?  If you haven't, you jolly well ought to.  The story is set in the 1930s and follows the adventures of the four sailing-mad Walker children and their boat Swallow on holiday in England's Lake District.  For two glorious weeks their mother lets them camp - on their own - on Wild Cat Island, where they meet the Amazon Pirates, a couple of local girls called Nancy and Peggy Blackett, and a retired pirate called Captain Flint, who is beastly at first.  Buck up and read it, do. It's awfully good fun.

I loved Swallows and Amazons when I was growing up. There are 12 books in the series and I still have them all.  Last month I began reading the first book aloud to my boys and by gum, they jolly well love it too.  Arthur Ransome has a real knack of storytelling and an understanding of the older child's mind. I don't know that I've read any book to my boys which has so captured their imaginations.  They plead for just one more chapter! at night.  Then, when they go to bed, they arrange bedsheets and window poles to make their own sailing boat in the bunk and play imaginative games.  I hear the call of Ready About! most nights as they settle down.


The catchcry of the book series is Swallows and Amazons forever! and now that I am passing it on to the next generation, I find that yes, they are forever! Hurrah!

Edited to add:

Last night, we read the bit where Captain Flint gave the Able-Seaman the parrot, the one that the Amazons try to teach to say Pieces of Eight instead of Pretty Polly.  This morning Cherub whipped up his own parrot.  He's called him Crackers.  You see what I mean about their imaginations being inspired.


Monday, December 19, 2011

The Christmas Tap Concert 2011

Confirmation that my tap school has grown in size came at the end of the year when I realised I needed to hire an outside hall to hold the Christmas Concert. So we lugged some chairs and my tap boards over to the local primary school and set up there on Saturday morning. My goodness it was nice to have a big space. Plenty of room onstage, offstage and in the audience.  The concert itself went really well apart from a stereo malfunction, which was eventually resolved.  I thought I'd show off some of my favourite pictures, taken by my Dad.  Warning: there's quite a few!  And if that's not enough for you, you can check out the full set by clicking here.

First up is a behind the scenes type shot, where you can see Fixit and his mate desperately trying to sort the stereo system.  This is before Fixit's friend's wife arrived with the serious amp, so we were making do with another friend's computer speakers.  While this was going on, the littlest class started their routine 3, maybe 4 times and were looking adorably confused with all the stop-starting.  Also note the little offstage elves watching the show from the kitchen area.  Nell and I had discussed keeping kids out of the kitchen for the duration, but as Nell said, they just wanted to watch, and that's fair enough.

This is the same class (The Tiny Tappers) when they finally finished their much-started routine. They received an enormous round of applause and were quite delighted.  I think I just look terribly relieved.


This next class (the Junior Shufflers) has become so big that when I choreographed this number I decided to split them into 2 lines; talls at the back and shorties in the front.  One of the tall girls was really desperate to be in the front row and kept asking me to change the arrangement or just sneaking herself forward.  And really, she had a point.  You shouldn't be kept in or out of the limelight owing to genetics beyond your control. Happily, on the morning it occurred to me that I could do a line swap halfway through the song in a little bit of dead music and everyone got a go in the front row.


Cherub's class (the Gliding Groovers) wore white because their Christmas routine was Frosty the Snowman, the Nat King Cole version.  I call them my Broadway Class because they are such exuberant little performers.  This is them doing the laughing bit at the beginning of the track.  They are a crack-up.


And here they are waving cheerfully as they exit stage left.  I think I might always make them wear white, they all looked angelically adorable.


In contrast, Climber's class (the Tapsters) were all dressed in black and they had to work with props for their routine to Yello's Oh Yeah; this is them doing some sunglasses choreography.  They were just too cool for school.


Here is the "Matrix" section of Climber's class's dance.  I just love how low Climber goes in this section, it is of course his favourite bit.


Now here are the 4 posed class photographs, a nice suggestion from Nell.  I nearly forgot to do them each time, but between Nell and Cherub reminding me we got them all done.

Tiny Tappers.

Junior Shufflers.

Gliding Groovers. 


And finally, here is a sweet sequence from the grand finale group routine.  Each class had a bit to do, starting with the babies.  At the end of each class' section they had to exit the stage to allow the next group to come forward.  Predictably the part most likely to go wrong was getting the youngest group to go off and the next youngest group to start their part.  Fortunately I'd prepped the second-youngests about needing to be able to start this routine without my help as in all likelihood the babies would forget to run off.

Well, things didn't start well when one of the littlies suffered a melt-down. This is him starting to crack it and about to run off although I did think he was very brave to give it a go in the state he was in.


The three little girls carried on without him, all is well.


Whoops, here's their cue to run off.  Off you go, babies, go on!  That way!!


Oh no, she's still standing there and here come the other group who are remembering to start without my help.  Quick!  Come on sweetie, out the way!


(Here's what they all looked like after they ran off, beanbags for a lucky few!)...
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It is all fine in the end, and everybody (except one sad boy) comes back on for the final pose. He was all right afterwards though.


Tappy Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas

The Spirit of Christmas flew past my house on Friday and left some goodness in my letterbox, in the shape of 2 very generous multi-shop vouchers.  Suddenly our Christmas/January is not looking so tight. If you were thinking the Spirit of Christmas was a jolly fat man in a red suit, you'd be wrong in this instance.  Turns out it's a blogging, facebooking group of kind-hearted generous awesome women, who look like this:

They shouldn't oughtn't to have but it's made an unbelievable difference that they did.  Thank you Mary, Janet, Suse, Tracey, Peta, Kirsten, Alison, Stacey, Megan, Lisa and Eleanor.  You made me cry and smile.  What kind friends you are. Cx.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Christmas List.

(A work in progress)
  • Santa letters written and posted.
(The kids had a great time running around in the magic forest they've set up in City Square this year, really nice)


  • Christmas cards written and posted.
(As I was addressing them I found the  Christmas letter I sent last year, and it turns out I write the same stuff every year, just the kids' ages and grade levels change.  Oh well.  Apologies to the aunts. At least I don't start them with Well I can't believe another year has gone by.)


  • Adult tap classes finished for the year.
(We had such a nice final night for those brave enough to attend.  Each class performed their regular routine and their Christmas routine, then we sat round having a lovely chat and some refreshments.  It was ace.)


Still to do: Quite a lot of shopping. The kids' end of year Tap Concert (low-key but still requiring fair bit of effort all round). Some more making and baking. And a couple of parties to attend.
But it's all ticking along quite nicely.  No need to panic.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A List of Advent Activities

What's up? Our Christmas Tree, that's what.


(Official note: It was Climber's turn this year to put the star on top of the tree.)




I think because we purchased it earlier in December than usual we were able to get a smaller and therefore cheaper tree.  The man who sells it to Fixit every year always gives us some bonus plant seedlings, so we are now growing eggplant, thai basil and burpless cucumbers.  Expect eggplant curry with raita sometime in March I reckon.

Last year I put together an Advent Activity Calendar, 25 fun-filled yuletide activities to keep us in the Christmas Spirit all December-long.  I thought I'd put in the full list of what we did below for ease of reference. Obviously far too late to help me or anyone with December 2011 plans, but maybe next year.  Although I suppose it might help remind me of important things I still need to do in the next - don't panic! -12 days, seeing as I decided NOT to do the advent box again this year due to slackitude and can't-be-botheredness, plus how many handmade tree decorations does one family need?

Anyway here it is:
A LIST OF ADVENT ACTIVITIES, with links, especially good for tap-dancing families.

  1. Hang A Christmas Decoration In Your Bedroom (also includes how I made my advent box)
  2. Make A Christmas Paper Chain
  3. Make Some Christmas Cards
  4. Write a Letter To Santa
  5. Post Your Letter to Santa
  6. Take A Food Donation to your JSC Christmas Appeal
  7. Do a Christmas Tree Maze (actually this is more about appearing in local rag as Outraged Pool User)
  8. Take A Family Photo wearing Santa Hats or Reindeer Ears
  9. Sew a Felt Ornament for the Christmas Tree
  10. Make Microwave Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments (I'm getting so many hits on this post, I'm like a Christmas Expert now)
  11. Write Christmas Cards to Give To Your School Friends
  12. Decorate The Christmas Tree
  13. Wear Christmas Coloured Clothes
  14. Build Something Christmassy out of Lego
  15. Read A Christmas Story At Bedtime
  16. Wrap A Christmas Present For Your Teacher
  17. Go Out For A Gelato with the Family (Warning! Features vomit!)
  18. Go To a Tap Dance Christmas Party & Dance To Christmas Songs
  19. Make a Wreath for the Front Door
  20. Make Up A Christmas Tap Dance (I still love watching this routine the boys made up, and I stole some of their choreography for this year's concert.)
  21. Make Some Christmas Shortbread
  22. Play A Family Board Game
  23. Play A Game of Backyard Cricket
  24. Hang Christmas Stocking and Leave Santa a Present
  25. Open presents etc.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

They don't call it Gym-nice-tics

On Friday we went to the end of year display for the boys' gymnastics classes. We got to see the kids working through each of the various pieces of equipment and a little floor routine as well.  It was most impressive. The boys absolutely adore doing gymnastics. They've done about half a year and their progress has been amazing. Climber is a superstar at the uneven parallel bars, owing to his years of dedicated training on the monkey bars. Sadly though, according to Nell, he won't be able to compete in this at Olympic Level because it is a Female Event only. As for Cherub, he is a great somersaulter and even the dreaded I'll never be able to do cartwheels are coming along.

Next week it's Bring A Friend To Gym day. Last term they had Bring Your Dad To Gym, and Fixit was a game participant but rather sore and sorry the next day. His speciality was push-ups,  well, compared to the other Dads in his group. And he distinguished himself by doing a spectacular bellyflop when he misjudged his angle of bounce on the mini-tramp and shot off like a rocket forwards instead of up, which was partly frightening and partly hilarious. We joined too late in the year for me to try my hand at Bring Your Mum to Gym day, but I am dead keen - and that is even though my friend Astrid came to grief when she did it, sustaining damage to her foot, which would be disastrous in my line of work - based on the fact I can still turn a neat cartwheel and have competitive tendencies. Not when it comes to push-ups though.

I was slightly dismayed by the number of injuries occurring at what is basically the end of year concert, possibly because my tap's school equivalent is looming next week. I'm not sure I could keep going on if I had so many hurt kids in a performance, but these gymnastic coaches are hardcore, they just give the kid an icepack and the show goes on.