28 December 2012

Camping together in a tiny tent

On my recent post about the Lalaloopsy Dolls, Tracy P posted this darling comment:

You had me at "camp together in a tiny tent"!

And from that moment on, I started warming to the idea of Jessie having some Lalaloopsy Dolls. Behold: camping together in a tiny tent!

What a wonderfully blessed Christmas!  My friend Catriona posted this on her blog, and I loved the delectable juxtaposition of adjectives:

I am thankful that God chose to enter our world in such a tiny fantastic big humble way.

My Mum, Dad and Crazy Sister her family came over for Christmas lunch. We missed Wee Bro who was staying in Mt Isa (a long way away) these holidays.  We roasted some lamb and fabulous potatoes and pumpkin on the barbecue and enjoyed Crazy Sister's pavlovas with Mum's fruit for dessert.

In terms of presents, we did the same thing we've done in previous years: just got a few little things for each person.  And then just a few more little things for each person.  And then some last-minute little things for each person.  And ended up with - let's face it - too many little things for each person. My own favourite was the terabyte of space I requested - that along with my 100GB Dropbox means that our family photos seem to be adequately backed-up for the moment.

I loved giving some bookshelves and bar-stools to Mr de Elba - I knew he wanted them and I kept them a secret until Christmas day!  Buzz loved the giant posters on the Moon and Space Exploration, Jessie showed an outrageous amount of euphoria to receive a hair curling iron and Woody played with his new wooden train track for hours.  Baby Rex received the wooden letters for his bedroom door with an appropriate amount of dribble and Bullseye got nothing and was none the wiser.

The nappy box was a bin, not a gift.
Summer holidays seem to stretch interminably before us, but they will be gone in a flash. And I'll have a big boy in Year 3, a big girl in Year 1, another big boy in 3-yr-old Kindy (pre-pre-prep) and another big boy who will be nearly crawling, walking, eating meat, bringing home girlfriends and getting his driver's licence*.

- - - - - - - - - -

*I'll spell licence [noun] the Australian way for Dad, who picked up the American spelling in my recent post about Taylah's mum's licence problems.

23 December 2012

Keeping me laughing in 2012

Woody saunters down the hall to the toilet, all the way singing, "I got da moves like Zagger, I got da moooooves... like Zagger ..."

Me looking in the fridge: I feel like eating a carrot.  Oh.  Only one left.  Better save it.  Bother.  Bother-bother-poo!
Woody, appearing beside me: Where's the bottle of poo?  Did you say 'bottle of poo?'

Woody: What are those kangaroos eating?
Grandma: They're eating grass.
Woody: We're walking on their food?

Settling into Daddy's work car, opening a Refidex on his lap: "Sapta Fourteen!"

Woody shuts the sliding door of Daddy's office and giggles, and I know Daddy is inside.
Me: What's going on Woody?
Woody: He's wocked in he's 'tudy. (Giggle giggle.)

Jessie: Who was that really short taxi-driver?
Me:  ???
Jessie: The taxi-driver.  The really short one?  REEEAALLY short.
Me: ... Short?  Like Zacchaeus?
Jessie: Yeah.  Zacchaeus.  The taxi-driver.
Me: Zacchaeus?!?  Taxi-driver?
Me & Jessie: Ohhh.

Jessie, "reading" a Baby Bible to Baby Rex: Jesus was thrown into a den...
Me, correcting her: ...asleep in a boat...
Jessie: ... and he was surrounded by all these slaves...
Me: ...disciples...

Buzz:  Mum! Jessie called me a Stupid Poo-Poo-Face!!
Jessie, deeply offended:  I did NOT, you Stupid Bum-Bum-Face!!

Mr de Elba, mistakenly: C'mon!  Get your shoes on, mate!
Jessie: "You can't call me 'mate'!!  I'm a girl!!  You have to call me 'woman'!"

Dad, to Jessie:  C'mon!  Eat your salad, woman!
Jessie, later:  Daddy have I eaten enough 'saladwoman' now?

Jessie: Double, triple, ...  what comes after triple?
Me: Quadruple, quintuple, ...
Jessie: ... Six-qupple?

Me: Woody, you are wasting your screams. You will run out of screams one day. Then one day when you're being chased by a wolf, you won't be able to scream 'Argh! A wolf is chasing me!'
-All fall about laughing-
Jessie: Okay Mum, can you buy me a wolf costume?

Me: How did Greeny's pupa go at Show and Tell yesterday?
Jessie: Really good! They all said "Eww!" 

Jessie: Mum! Buzz said I'm stupid!
Me: Ah. Well. See, that's not true so I wouldn't worry about it. You know LOTS of stuff.
Jessie: Yes. Like I know that 'selfish' means you only think of yourself. And 'liar' means you're not telling the truth.
Me: Uh. Yeah. Good examples.

Me: I hope our delivery came today!  Do you think our delivery came today?
Buzz:  I dunno.  Don't ask me, I'm not The Master Of Deliveries. 

Me: You drank all that tea without sugar!
Buzz:  Yeah, but I drank it hatefully.

On bees:  The Queen Bee marries the King Bee.  The Queen then lays lots of eggs and the King dies straightaway.  From horror, I think.  The horror of being married.
(I later asked him what he thought of marriage: was it fun or horror?  He immediately said, "Fun."  Relief.  I referred back to this comment about bees, and he admitted, "I'm not sure anymore.  It mightn't be bees.  It might be ants.  Or wasps."  I checked: it is bees, and marriage isn't horror.)

Buzz, enraged: OKAY Woody, HOW many videos have you been TAKING on MY iPod? HUH?
(Presses 'play,' revealing the sound of a child screeching like a deranged chimpanzee. Ridiculous display of insanely gratuitous noise ensues.)
Buzz, looking sheepish: Oh. Okay, that was one of mine ...
And this little guy of course!
And this, by Mr de Elba: 

Mr de E: Can you still buy candles at Carols by Candlelight?
Me: I think it's the plastic LED candles these days isn't it?
Mr deE:  Stuff that.  What's the point of Carols by Candlelight when you can't drop hot wax on yourself?  Man our childhood was awesome!

07 December 2012

Show and (really!) Tell

Jessie:  Taylah's* mum lost her license but she's still driving.
 .....- shocked silence -.....
Me: How on earth do you know that?
Jessie, nonchalantly:  Taylah did it for Show & Tell.  

* Name changed to protect the ... guilty, apparently.

It could be unwise to give five- and six-year-olds too much of a soapbox.

Jessie came home one day with some great ideas for her Christmas List.  She'd seen Buzz' list which included all sorts of spy gadgets, Harry Potter magic sets and, interestingly, and owl.  But she wasn't inspired to compile her own Christmas list until she realised that Show & Tell - JOLLY Show & Tell - was a great opportunity to see what the Haves had, and what she did not.

This poor little Have-Not decided that she would ask for a Lalaloopsy doll.

A What?

A Lalaloopsy Doll!  

Lah - lah - loop - see.



I thought, "Okay, I guess I can at least research it," and Mister Google supplied me with some really frightening images:

Do those dark black eyes stare into your soul the way they seem to stare into mine?  I half expect to pull and string and hear, "I see dead people."  Anyway, my Google search got crazy with images like this:
...which, um, No.  But I saw how she really wanted a Lalaloopsy doll and did some more research.  I've decided on two little mini ones who can camp together in a tiny tent, because their eyes seem to appear slightly less-evil by virtue of being smaller.  I hope that suits her.

But what about you?  Has Show & Tell ever proved to be the best viral marketing for you or a child you know?  Or worse, do you have a story about something being disclosed during Show and Tell?  Spill.

21 November 2012

My subconscious speaking

Hang on a minute ... 

That box over there, in the homework corner!

(What a messy homework corner, by the way!)

That box!  I remember putting it there to hold empty boxes, cardboard tubes, empty tins and jars ... 

And I put a sign on the front, but I don't quite remember putting ...



How indelicate.

I honestly put THAT on the box?

I mean, it's true, but really?  I did that?

Let me move a bit to the left to get a better look ...



I remember now.

Yes.  That's what I put.  Of course.

13 November 2012

A bit like an Elvis Sighting

Guess what?!?!? 
Some people think they've seen Elvis.  It's called an "Elvis Sighting."
Well we think - think - we've had a Greeny Sighting.
This could be Greeny. 
He looks different to how he looked before, so we're not sure.
But he's a different kind of moth to the regular inside moths.  
So we think it's Greeny.  We're going with that.
He was in our homework corner so we put him in a container and released him.
He was too quick for Mum to photograph and anyway, Rex was in her arms and she can't do anything when he's in her arms. 
So this is a recreation of how "The Release Of Probably Greeny" went:
A fake depiction of the release of a moth that may or may not have been Greeny.  Lame?  Possibly.
We can all sleep well now.

Greeny Part 1: "Greeny"
Greeny Part 2: "Goodbye my larva, 'tis time to pupate"
Greeny Part 3: "In Which Procrastination Finds Me Out"

07 November 2012

In Which Procrastination Finds Me Out

"I really should put a net over Greeny's pupa," I've been saying for the last fortnight.  "I'll do it soon.  At least before he hatches."

Well, we all know how this one ends.

This morning I decided that enough procrastination was enough, and I was going to put a little net over his egg-carton accommodation to capture him if/when he hatched.  And, predictably, this is what I found:

"Greeny is risen!" - "He is risen indeed!"
An empty pupa, and a few dead ants for emphasis.

See, this here is what we call a "Fail."  Sure, I'll spin this somehow: "Greeny has hatched while we weren't watching and flapped off to live somewhere, in the trees perhaps, and he's very very happy there ..." and the discarded pupa will go to school for Show and Tell (which will be a relief because it looked like this week's Show and Tell was going to be a doorknob, an implausible story involving a mattock and a few bits of broken door,) but still.

I could easily have not procrastinated on the net and have Greeny the Moth to show the children this afternoon after school.  There could have been a triumphant release and the children could send him off with fond wishes that he may parent many babies, much to Sue Ellen's completely justified horror and disgust.

But instead, Greeny seems to have hatched and hidden himself inside somewhere and isn't making himself easy to find.  If we do find him, it could still end poorly as I'm reminded how easy it is to crunch the life out of a child's beloved moth by the simple action of shutting a door.

Somehow, I knew the Greeny story wasn't going to end with the completion of the Life Cycle loop.  Jolly Greeny.

Greeny Part 1: "Greeny"
Greeny Part 2: "Goodbye my larva, 'tis time to pupate"

05 November 2012

The day the doorknob broke and we couldn't fix it so we chopped the door down with a mattock

Or, the blog post title with the biggest spoiler of all time.

Last week's blog post was sparked by Jessie having tonsillitis, Buzz having asymptomatosis and me having asymptomatata.  ONE of those people kissed Rex and passed it on.  It was the only person who was truly infectious and by the end of the week, tiny Rex had a husky voice, pain on sneezing, a roasting fever and diarrhoea.  Diagnosis: Tonsillitis.

On Sunday after church, we all tried for a rest.  Poor Rex was feverish but still up for a good sleep, and I tried for one too.  Woody interrupted me right up until five minutes before Rex woke up, so my sleep was poor.  But when I finally heard my baby boy crying his husky, pained cry, Woody had fallen asleep to enjoy the rest he'd robbed from me, and I graciously allowed him to live.

Jessie came to me and whispered, "Rex is crying."  I knew this.  I asked her to ask Daddy kindly if he might get Rex but Daddy was very busy killing bad guys with Buzz (I'm still working out if I should be worried when my moral-policeman-seven-year-old-son gleefully shouts things like, "I've lost the cops!!") so Rex continued to cry.

I staggered down the hallway to rescue him, turned the handle of his door and barrelled in.  Specifically, I barrelled into the door.  I smashed my head into it, and momentarily worried about my sanity.  I turned the knob properly the next time, and again smacked my face into the still-closed door.

Certain about my sanity now (Diagnosis: Stupid) I tried the knob the other way.  And the first way.  And the other way.  At some point, I realised the door wasn't opening and I yelled to Mr de Elba mid-slaughter, "Can you come and tell me if I'm not properly awake or if Rex's door won't open?"

He came, and tried the doorknob many times.  In the words of a tradesman who once did work for us:  "Diagnosis: Buggered."

So while Rex cried his poor little lungs out, we grabbed my screwdriver set and took off the screws holding the knob onto the door.  We fiddled with the mechanism.  We turned the square sticky-outy thing that works the openy-closey mechanism: no luck.  We tried to access parts further down the workings to retract the little tongue-thing from the hole-in-the-other-side thing: no luck.  We kicked the door: no luck.

Now at this point, if time hadn't been an issue, we could have called my Mum, who is Tinkerbell Incarnate.  She tinkers with stuff and it falls into place.  We could have called Justadad, the husband of my friend Justamum, who knows how things work.  We could have researched doorknob problems, we could have gone out and bought some magical tools, we could have asked the tradesman who is coming soon to work on some other doors around the house.

But it was a lazy Sunday afternoon and poor feverish Rex had screamed hard for 20 minutes so he was about to burst into flames.  We'd exhausted all the options at our disposal so there was only one option left.  It was drastic, it was destructive, and it was a whole heap of fun.

Mr de Elba chopped the door down with a mattock.

The door was cheap and the knob was rubbish, and recently Mr de Elba has been so busy at work that a bit of door-chopping was a rather welcome and therapeutic distraction.  Also, he'd just been killing bad guys so he was in the mood.

I wasn't joking.
Buzz LOVED it.  Jessie cried loudly and shouted, "Will the police have to come and see what we've done to the door?  Will we get in trouble from The Police?!?" and generally lost her head.  Woody slept through the whole thing in the next room, and Rex cried and cried.

Finally, the hole was big enough for me to crawl through and I went in to rescue my baby who had wriggled himself into a painful position all smashed up against the bars of the cot.  I handed him out to his Daddy who had lovingly chopped his door down with a mattock.

I did this for you, my son.
The cleanup was extensive.  The picture above shows only half of the final destruction, and only a quarter of the final mess.  A wheelie bin was actually brought into the house for the cleanup, the whole area was vacuumed twice with a Dyson (using both the Contact Head and the Turbo-brush) during which one of Woody's socks was sucked up (I can recommend the Dyson's suction ability, by the way) and now there is only one more thing to be done.

Buy a new door.

And a really good quality doorknob.

And get it from the shop to our house.


And install it.


Addendum: Although the Dyson is very good, the door was spread far and wide.  We are still finding bits of door in unlikely places.

30 October 2012

Name that Mutation


The word "tonsillitis" means an infection or inflammation of the tonsils.  My little guys get it occasionally in winter and it's easily cleared up with antibiotics.  (There is no indication that it would be appropriate to go whacking parts out of the children at this stage, that's not where I'm going with this.)

Tonsillitis seems to be more contagious than modern medicine realises, and it suffers more mutations than the text books would indicate.

I have noticed that if Jessie is unfortunate enough to get tonsillitis and have a day off school, the illness spreads quite quickly to Buzz.  However, it undergoes an important mutation before it does.  Once it reaches Buzz's little body, what used to be a strain of tonsillitis has in fact mutated to:


Asymptomatosis, observed and named by me, simply means:
• "a-" = without
• "-symptoma-" = observable symptoms
• "-osis" = a general condition, as opposed to "-itis" meaning inflammation or "-oma" meaning a mass.  Just a plain old "-osis."

More properly, the illness is referred to as "acute selective asymptomatosis."  "Selective" means it happens whenever Buzz pleases, and "acute" means it comes on suddenly in the morning when I say, "Go and find some school socks."

Once Asymptomatosis has infected poor dear Buzz, it spreads quite quickly to me.  It undergoes another critical mutation before it does.  Once the illness gets to me, it has mutated to:


Sing with me: 
" Asymptomatata! ♪♫ I made up the phrase ... ♪
♪ Asymptomatata! ♫ It's a passing craze ... ♫
♫ I have no worries ♪ It's not a genuine sick day ... ♫♪♪"

Which basically means one or more of my children want to stay home without displaying any observable symptoms, and I couldn't give a toss.

29 October 2012

Five years ago

Five years ago, I started contributing to the plethora of useless information filling the internet in the form of blogs. This was back in the day when most bloggers blogged in order to blog.  Sponsors, ads and money-making ventures were rare back then, and we only wrote to amuse ourselves and our friends.

Buzz and Jessie in October 2007

Initially, I told nobody my blog was here.  I wrote a few tentative pieces and then told my sister what I was doing.  She thought I was mad.  Then I told my husband.  He was most amazed that I'd managed to do something technology-related without his help.  Then I told a few other people.  I had a readership of about four, and they only read because they were worried about what I might have said about them.  I saw that blogging was going to need a few rules.

Rule One: Don't blog revealing things about people you love.

You don't want friends and family to be nervous about what you're saying about them.  It's possible I broke that rule by being honest about my biggest struggle in the early days of my blog:  Buzz' habit of doing a late-afternoon poo on the back path.  He was only two, but now he's seven.  Yikes.

Next I tackled the related issue of exactly how grumpy to be on my blog.  The answer to that was going to be dictated by how private my blog was, and I really wanted to blog publicly and meet new friends.  Therefore I imposed ...

Rule Two: Don't blog honest things about people you hate.

I know that I have broken this rule a bit by blogging about our local lollipop lady.  But she's an autocrat and needs to be outed, you know what I mean?  Today she left Buzz and about 10 of his schoolmates waiting beside the road as she furiously and ostentatiously scribbled down the license plate of a car standing in the loading zone beside her crossing.  The driver and the lollipop lady exchanged furious words and angry gestures before the car sped off, but the lollipop lady made a big show of scribbling LOTS MORE down in her little black book before attending to the waiting children, who no doubt got an earful about "standing in loading zones," none of which they would have understood.  So there I go breaking rule two AGAIN.

Rule Three: Don't get too serious about blogging.

•  I didn't want to aim to make money, only to find I'd only made enough to buy a packet of chips, and to be disappointed.
•  I didn't want to aim to have a massive readership, only to find my only readers were my mum, my sister and You, and to be disappointed again.
•  I didn't want to be tied down to "having to write" for the benefit of my readership or my sponsors, and to sit under high pressure staring at a blank screen only to churn out the literary equivalent of boiled manure.

So far, I've stuck to that one.  I've made no money, I have kept my readership small, friendly and cozy, and all the boiled manure I have written is honest, legitimate, natural boiled manure, not boiled manure produced under high pressure to write something brilliant.

Rule Four:  If you don't have anything to blog about, for the love of all that is good and pure DON'T blog about having nothing to blog about.

To my absolute shock and horror, I have broken this more times than I want to admit.  From memory, I've only done this once or twice, but in reality, about one in every 10 posts I re-visit from my little "Random Posts From The Past" in the right sidebar contains some apologetic moaning about how I've got nothing to blog about.  It's pathetic.  I've written nearly 1000 posts on Killing a Fly, and I'm tempted to delete all the "I've-got-nothing-to-blog-about" posts to bring the total to about 900.

But if you thought that five years has been a little rough on this site, you might be shocked to see how brutal it has been on the very ukulele that inspired its name.  When I started Killing A Fly, the ukulele with which I was urging my offspring not to kill flies was a little less battered, and still had all its strings.  These days, it only has a few bits of broken nylon string hanging from its tattered, decrepit frame. 

And while you could see the state of the ukulele as being allegorical of the state of the blog itself, I suspect I will continue to write things about people that make them nervous to know me, write indiscreet things about our lollipop lady and moan about not having anything to blog about for a while longer. And if you are really lucky and stick around, you're sure to come across some boiled manure before too long.

22 October 2012

Sound bytes from today

Today was a student-free day, so I had all the children at home with me while Mr de Elba was back at work changing the world.  Now I am just curious about the deep-thinkers on Facebook who put statuses like this up on Friday afternoon - and I may be paraphrasing a little but the essence was:

OMG I'm so super-excited lol, it's a LONG WEEKEND LOL!!!!!!!!!!

I would like to ask them what brand of sedative they use on their children? Where can you buy it?  Would they consider using it on themselves before Facebooking about the next student-free day?  Just asking.

As a free gift to them, I will donate a few moments from today so that they may thoroughly enjoy the richness of my student-free day, along with their own.

Jessie: [says something]
Buzz: [copies Jessie]
Jessie: [says something else]
Buzz: [copies Jessie again]
Jessie: MU-U-UM!  Buzz is copying me!
Woody [from another room]: Buzz is copying me!
Jessie: MU-U-UM!  Woody's copying me!
Woody [wicked giggle]: Woody's copying me!
Me: I'm going into the woods to hide.
Me, driving: Now Rex, don't cry when I drive over the bumps...
Jessie and Woody in unison: Bums!
Me, to Rex: Sometimes cars just have to go over bumps.
Jessie and Woody: Bums! 
Me: I said "bumps."
Jessie and Woody: Bums!
Me: You guys are from a different planet. 

You're welcome.

20 October 2012

Goodbye my larva, 'tis time to pupate

Greeny gave me a scare.

A few days ago, he went off his food and he seemed to have stopped growing.  He got all slow and sleepy, scrunched his body up, gradually turned from green to brown, and appeared to give up on life.

I couldn't work out what was happening.  I was expecting a silkworm-like cocoon to be spun, and this was nothing like a silkworm-like cocoon.  I watched him over the hours, and noticed he was going hard and crackly, until he had changed completely.

I am about to post some of the most un-fascinating photos you have ever seen.  Haute photographie, this is not.  Are you ready?  Behold, the new Greeny:

Happy Halloween!  It's Greeny, dressed as a mouse dropping.

Well if that isn't the most awesome photo you've seen today!  Here's another one from a slightly different angle lest you miss any of the excitement:

We know he's alive in there because when he's disturbed, he wriggles!

I know, right?  But it's totally not what it looks like: it's actually Greeny.  As an aside, Greeny did a huge one of those right before changing to brown and crackly.  Who knew the little grub had that much inside him?

I needed to do some research on the cabbage moth tout de suite, because this was not what I was expecting.  It was hard to find information that didn't solely focus on pesticides to kill the common cabbage moth, but I found what I needed in the end.  I learned something that probably most primary school students know:  Some insects pupate inside a pupa instead of a cocoon.

Who knew?  Not me.  Everything I know about caterpillars turning into butterflies and moths I learned from this guy:
And he built a cocoon. Ergo (I assumed) Greeny has got it all wrong.  But he hadn't.

In the last growth stage of some caterpillars they moult as usual but the next skin hardens rather than staying soft, to protect them as they change inside.  They do this instead of spinning a 'silk' cocoon.

I know you already knew that.  I didn't, okay?  In general, the average Australian has less than zero interest in the life cycle of the cabbage moth, preferring to douse their habitat in Dipel and understand the life cycle of pretty butterflies instead.

Now Jessie thinks we should change his name from Greeny to Browny.  I'm thinking he should stay  "Greeny" because if he looks like how I expect him to look when he hatches, we'd have to then change his name again to Whitey.  That would be silly.  I'm going to keep calling him Greeny.

We're now watching Greeny do nothing but look like a mouse dropping for the next ... how long?  The Very Hungry Caterpillar stayed inside for "almost two weeks" but this guy could be different.  If I don't put some netting over Greeny's deluxe egg carton suite, he might just hatch and escape, causing deep emotional suffering among Greeny's human friends.

There is still the potential for Greeny to refuse to pupate in captivity and perish in his suite, again causing deep emotional suffering among Greeny's human friends.

And of course, rough handling or a hungry bird could ruin his release into the wild, yet again causing deep emotional suffering among Greeny's human friends.

The pressure on me to deliver this cabbage moth to local vegetable gardens alive and happy remains strong.

Jolly Greeny.

Greeny Part 1: "Greeny"
Greeny Part 3: "In which procrastination finds me out"

15 October 2012


Wow.  Monday is awful isn't it?  Well, Rex hates it.

He cried all around the grocery shop while Buzz, Jessie and Woody made me say things that made other customers smirk as they passed us.  It's a bit of a blur, but I do remember hissing to them that I'd attached a device to the trolley that caused it to deliver a strong electric shock to all unearthed children who touched it. Completely justified.  I'd struggled to manoeuver the trolley with one hand while Rex, who refused to snuggle down in the baby cradle thing lined with layers of his soft Storchenwiege wrap, cried in my other arm while the three big children tried to "guide" the trolley in all the wrong directions then fought each other to get into it from where they could do nothing but stand on the lamingtons.

They're good shoppers in twos and threes.  Four just breaks the zen.  When we were done, I declared to the quiet, echo-y carpark, "I am never buying groceries ever again!  What could we possibly need so much that would make that experience worthwhile?"  I am 55% sure there was nobody else in the carpark.

The challenges keep on coming.  I just moaned to Mr de Elba via Google Talk:  "Am wondering what to do with these miserable scraps of life-extinguished fowl before I can call them 'dinner.'"  He replied, "Sounds palatable."

I'll try to redeem today by telling all you non-facebooking friends and relatives out there about Greeny.

Mum has been growing chickpeas, and they are delicious to eat fresh.  We were munching our way through a container of them when I noticed one chickpea shell had a hole out of which was crawling a green grub.  "Shall I squash it with my fingers?" I thought.  "Not worth getting icky green grub blood on my fingers - I'll just put it over there for now, and take it outside later.  Some random bird will solve the problem for me."

Unfortunately, between then and later, the grub had been named, and was therefore, in the eyes of three of my small dependents, "a pet."

Allow me to introduce you to "Greeny."

 We've kept him alive for quite a few days now, because as my friend The Accidental Housewife pointed out, we know what he eats.  However he has gone off chickpeas and moved on to pumpkin and lettuce, so I'm not sure what to do with him when he turns up his nose at that and desires something else.  But if he thinks he can refuse his veggies and then ask for dessert, he has another think coming.

Each day, he gets an urge to hop onto the rim of his container and motor around it quickly a few times, almost as if he's having daily exercise.  If he was a 55 year old man, he'd call it his "constitutional" and use words like "bracing."  At many points in his constitutional, he stops and tries to make a break for it.  Like the refusing veggies thing, I am having none of it.

Greeny gives me a scare every day - he hides in his lettuce and can't be found.  This, along with the potential for his haphazard diet and random habitat to cause him to be rapidly re-classified as "Browny" prompted me to ask Jessie the other day, "Sweetheart, if Greeny dies or gets himself lost, will we cry, or will we be okay with that?"

Without skipping a beat, she replied, "Cry."

I feel the pressure is on me.  The happiness of a number of small children depends on my ability to nurture this green grub to the cocoon-building stage and beyond.  The best-case scenario involves Greeny hatching and being released into the wild for the purpose of laying eggs which will hatch into other vegetable-eating pests for the joy of my neighbours and myself.

In reality, I only hope Greeny manages to fly out of sight of the children before being snapped up by a bird.

Greeny Part 2: "Goodbye my larva, 'tis time to pupate"
Greeny Part 3: "In which procrastination finds me out"

09 October 2012

2012 Bus Story - Sequel

You will be pleased to know that the bus, complete with new battery thanks to a Good Samaritan with black-grease-stained hands called Phil, performed admirably for the week of camp, taking 20 teenagers at a time to and from electives.  "Performed admirably" in this case involves the bus shuddering and shaking along the road while roasting its sweaty, red-faced passengers and melting Mr de Elba's Thankyou Chocolate which was given by the camp leaders to thank him for driving the "Bucket 'o' Bolts" all week without once uttering a bad word.

The only Bus Incident that occurred while actually on camp was this:

The bus ran over our Family Sunscreen.  But it was still useable despite the bottle being squashed flatter than it was, the lid being blown off and, I suspect, a good amount of sunscreen being splattered all over the road.

And that's the end of The Bus Story.  How underwhelming.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The children had a blast on camp, even though they were only hangers-on at a camp which was really for high-schoolers.

There was a lot of beach swimming:
Bimi insisted on swimming with her handbag one day.  
It even went out in the surf with her.
 Counting heads: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ...
...6, 7...
  No, no, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8... plus Rex makes 9!  Nine?  Oops we counted someone else's kid ...
 In the middle of the nights I didn't want Rex to wake anybody up, so I took him to a little room to settle him.  In the darkness without my contact lenses, I could see practically nothing.  I named the room "The Pineapple Room" because it had fruit in it (including pineapples) waiting to be used for The Masterchef Challenge one night.
How tropical, how fun, how happy does "The Pineapple Room" sound?  How disappointing to see it already had a name, heralded by the sign on the door which could be clearly seen in the light of day:
This camper made a corn cob stack with all our leftovers.  Clever.

On the day that Buzz and Jessie went with the campers to Wet'n'Wild, Woody and Rex and I packed the day full of activities with Justamum and two of her kids Boris and Bimi.  At the big local shopping centre, Woody spent half an hour on a bouncy bus before being bored stiff at a dreadful Lorax stageshow involving two perky dancing girls and a person in a huge Lorax suit saying "Redooce, Reuse, Recycle" in a fake New York accent.
Buzz and Woody loved the bowling:
Belle, who had never been bowling before, won the game.  After we got home, we realised that the final round entitles you to three bowls, not two.  Fail, Givinya, Fail.

Here are Jessie, Banana, Buzz, Belle and Bimi dressed up for Formal Night at camp.  Blurry phone photos again.
Little Rex spent most of the week in his new wrap. I got a Storchenwiege after finding my way out of the babywearing culture I accidentally got immersed in as part of my research into the type of wrap to buy.  I just want to be hands-free, not subscribe to a culture!  Babywearing Institute?  Babywearing Conventions?  For real?
Formal Night: the de Elbas weren't prepared and had to make do with regular holiday clothes:
The children took a joking suggestion that they were traveling in the trailer as the honest truth, and were disappointed to hear that it wasn't going to happen:
Dear Baby Rex.
Completely exhausted after a week at camp, Rex slept for 11.5 hours straight as soon as he hit his comfy cot.  Here he is the next day saying "Keep your bassinette.  I will sleep right here thanks."

08 October 2012

2012 Camp Bus Story


That's the sound a bus makes when it's got a flat battery.

When a bus goes "rurr-rurr-rurr" in an unfamiliar place at 9:00pm in the cold, wet weather and the bus is filled with tired, frightened children, the "rurr-rurr-rurr" sounds a little more sinister than I can make it look on the screen.

Mr de Elba, Justamum and I had taken seven children to have a fabulous night ice-skating and tobogganing, and we'd stopped at McDonalds to get 30c cones for the children on the way home.  We clambered back on the bus to make the 20-minute drive back home when the "rurr-rurr-rurr-rurr" changed our night from Fabulous to Potentially-Very-Bad-Indeed.

Mr de Elba kept his cool as he turned the ignition key again and again, but the bus didn't give any hope of spluttering to life.  One by one the children sobered as they realised what Justamum and I had realised in the darkness of the bus: we were stuck.  Justamum and I said little prayers while the girls cried and the boys prophesied doom.

Baby Rex decided he was hungry but he didn't want my milk, an impossible scenario he sometimes presents me with.  He alternated crying with screaming and I took him up the back seat of the bus, as if that would somehow minimise the noise for the other passengers.

As I sat there offering milk that was somehow offensive to a person smaller than my arm, I considered our options.

How to start the bus? No idea.

How to evacuate the children while someone cleverer than I worked out how to start the bus? Ah, there were several options there, each more unsatisfactory than the last.

I could call my Dad to drive our car (complete with baby seat for Rex and boosters for the others) to pick us up and take us home ... but he didn't have our house or car keys.

I could call Crazy Sister's husband who had the benefit of living close to where we broke down.  But he would have had to make several 40-minute round trips to take us all, and didn't have the requisite child restraints in his car.

Also, when I invited Crazy Sister ice-skating, she said with her characteristic charm that it sounded "damn nasty" and that she "just spent what feels like most of this year waiting for winter to finish."  Dragging a Crazy Family member out into "damn nasty" weather that felt a little like the winter that had finally just finished seemed defeatist at best and humiliating at worst, so I abandoned that idea.

The third option was "Panic Now."  But by that stage, we were too tired. Instead, we and the children said, "Dear God, we pray the bus can start, amen."

I hadn't noticed that a kind bloke with a really nice new ute had asked if he could give us a tow, so we could try a rolling start.  Mr de Elba had to back the bus up by allowing it to roll backwards down a slight incline.  My job, since Rex and I were sitting in the back row, was to tell him when to stop so that he didn't smash the car parked 10 metres behind us.  That was when I started to sweat a little.  "Panic Now" seemed a good option.

We rolled backwards without incident, the tow cable was attached, and we were slowly towed out of the carpark.  Then we started going faster to get up a fair speed before trying a rolling start.

"Rurr-rurr-rurr!"  No luck.

They tried again in a different gear.  Rolling slowly, rolling faster, rurr-rurr-rurr, no luck again.

A third try - much the same.

Fourth try, and they went much faster.  It was then I realised how difficult it must be to concentrate on getting up enough speed to start the bus while watching the ute's brake lights so that you could stop the bus quickly enough on the wet road so that you didn't smash into the back of the Good Samaritan who was trying to help you.

Then all of a sudden: BRAKELIGHTS-EMERGENCYSTOP-SKIIIIIIIIIID-stopjustintime!

We'd just avoided rear-ending a really nice, new, expensive ute with a really old, unreliable, shuddery bus.  "Panic Now" was instigated.

My choice would have been to pull out then.  No more tries, no more potential rear-ending of the Good Samaritan for his kindness.  However Mr de Elba decided to give it one more shot.

Rolling slowly, rolling faster, rurr-rurr-rurr-rurr-rurr, splutter, cough, START!  It had worked!  We were running again, and as often happens in these situations, the Good Samaritan congratulated us, we thanked him profusely, he said goodbye and then he disappeared into the night.

"Thankyou God, the bus has started!" we said together.  Girls stopped crying, boys were perhaps a little sad that the eventual doom didn't transpire because it seemed to have been quite an adventurous possibility, baby Rex had cried himself out and fell asleep slumped across my arms, and Justamum and I laughed silently in the darkness.  Because what else could you do, really?

And as we drove home in the dark wet night, we wondered what the ending of this story would be - the story whose beginning involved being stranded with a flat battery outside McDonalds late at night and whose middle involved driving that very bus packed with 20 excited teenagers three hours to the beach for a week-long camp.

Woody had no such qualms.  He sat happily beside me saying over and over again, "Fank God da bus has start."