Saturday, December 25, 2010


Ahh Christmas! Love it. Hate the preparation but love the day itself and all that wonderful thought-provoking stuff behind the Reason.  I also love the traditions that we have built up in our family over the years. My kids probably won't remember many of the presents they received growing up (except maybe for that terrifying walking, roaring lion with the flashing red eyes that my mum bought for Beloved's grandson) but I can guarantee that they'll remember the Christmas Eve customs that have been in place for the last couple of decades. Things like listening out for Santa's sleigh bells, preparing his supper, putting out stockings and knowing that in the morning they'll be chocca with goodies with snowy footprints all over the lounge (that seem suspiciously like baking soda dropped in the shape of Mum's jandals). But the one that stands out for me is....drum roll please....the annual CLEANING OF THE TOILET(S). When a large man of advanced years has to deliver presents right around the globe while being plied with milk, cookies and mulled wine, it makes sense that he just might need to make a pitstop once in a while.  After all, he is just a man.  Last year the kids were actually fighting over who would get to do which loo.
C making sure that T has completed the job up to her high standards

We have a new fostie this Christmas and it all seems a bit foreign to him. He'd never seen a Christmas stocking before last night so he wasn't all that convinced when he was presented with a toilet brush.

One tradition I haven't been able to come to grips with is sending out Christmas cards. They're not cheap, you have to line up for half an hour to buy a stamp, they usually end up in the paper recycling bin by January and...I'm just a bit too...lazy.  Shocking I know but sadly true.  If I give a card, I'd much rather deliver it by hand and preferably with a gift.  Consequently a lot of friends have given up on sending cards out to me so my cards tend to be more consipcuous by their absence. This inactivity of mine stunned Beloved when we first married and his suggestion that I make up one of those corny family newsletters wasn't met with much enthusiasm by me either. 
NOT my wall!
A few Christmas Eves ago we got a call that some friends were popping in for a visit. I wasn't totally prepared for this and realised that things were looking a bit sparse on the decoration side - this was in the days before I purchased my giant inflatable Santa and Rudolph. What can I say? I panicked. String was found and hung from wall to wall across the ceiling with sticky tape. You can fix just about any problem with string and sticky tape. Cupboards and drawers were trashed as I managed to pull out every pack of budget Christmas card Beloved had collected over the years. I had those babies strung up and all evidence tidied away just as our visitors pulled into the driveway. It was shaping up to be a brilliant plan as our string of cards was admired:  "Oooooh, you've got a lot of cards!" (which pretty much translates to "Ooooooh, you're much more popular than we are!"). 

I would have gotten away with it if not for the question that followed: "Errrrmmmm....why don't all those cards have anything written inside them?"  To which Beloved replied, "Ange will explain..."

Merry Christmas all

Friday, December 24, 2010

Don't think of an elephant

I have the sudden urge to grow a mango tree. Not because I even like mangoes, but because during a conversation with Zeeb I learned that it's not exactly within the confines of NZ law to grow a mango from the seed of the fruit imported into the country for the sole purpose of eating. I did not know that and for that very reason, I desperately want to give it a go, not because I have a criminal mind but...because I've been told NOT to. Zeeb confessed that she bought a mango and has been secretly trying to get the seed to germinate and I was quietly impressed. It seems that the apple (or in this case, the mango) doesn't fall far from the tree. I also just happen to have a mango seed that I've been watching closely. But nothing has happened and I'm starting to get bored with it so I think I'll stick with tomatoes.

Thoughts are difficult to rein in from time to time. When you know you shouldn't think about something; when you've been expressly told not to think about something, you can guarantee that the very something you're not supposed to think about will turn into an elephant that you're not supposed to be thinking about.

The other evening I was on my way out for a banana split with R - something I enjoy immensely because R is totally awesome and usually splits her split in half so that I generally end up with one-and-a-half desserts. Don't you just love friends that feed you? Anyway, I was driving along, trying not to think about R's half of a banana split that I was hopefully going to eat (it would be rude to expect it, wouldn't it?) and I was feeling quite pleased with myself for being so in control of that elephant when something caught my attention at the reserve on the corner. There was a group of kids playing "something-that-involves-a-rugby-ball" and supervising the group was a very fine speciman of Samoan manliness. This guy had a six-pack, pecs, a six-pack, biceps...did I mention that he had a six-pack?
It's not that I was distracted from my driving or anything, but it was pretty difficult to miss him and impossible not to appreciate...ummm...God's handiwork. Imagine my HORROR when I realised that he was one of our STUDENTS from SCHOOL! I had taught him the 9 x tables just a couple of years earlier. This kid in a man's body is younger than two of my own kids! Get that stampede of elephants out of my head!!!! In fact, while you're at it, could somebody please gauge out my eyes while he goes and puts a shirt on? Although not as unpleasant, the feeling was almost as bad as when our 2IC changed his shirt in front of me and I was exposed to a hairy snail trail working its way over his lint-filled belly button. *Shudder* there was no six-pack on that occasion and I wouldn't have objected to being struck blind then either!

So I'm giving up on mango trees and six-packs. I want nothing more to do with them!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Confessions of a delusional housewife

Sometimes my mind is like my own little playground. I don't know about you but just once in a while (like - ohhh, I don't know - every day) my thoughts get a little carried away.  This afternoon I was dipping my pet chickens into a bucket of cold water, as you do, when something interesting happened. Well, it was interesting to me. But before anybody calls the SPCA perhaps I should clarify that my two frizzle hens are broody again and the cold water treatment is meant to snap them out of it. It's not working.

So I dunked my bird into a bucket of cold water (which considering it's a hot 30 degrees celsius outside, was quite refreshing for both of us) and gave her a bit of a cuddle (as you do):

Reconstruction with Pepsi: Not actual photo of actual wet chicken
Then we had a bit of a moment. I perched Pepsi the hen onto my outstretched arm and she actually STAYED there! Normally she's a very frisky bird who has given me a few good peckings but it appears that on this one occasion I had tamed the beast! That's when my thoughts drifted away. I straightened my back, stuck out my chin and thought of this:

Pepsi and Ange, the grecian huntress

I literally BECAME Diana the Huntress. It took a good ten minutes of posing before I realised that Pepsi had deserted me and was scratching about in the nesting area again. I don't think Pepsi would have made a good hawk afterall and besides, I would probably rescue any prey from her beak anyway. I guess that means I wouldn't make of a huntress either.  I'm not too sure if any of my neighbours saw me and assuming that they would have had no comprehension of  my dramatic transformation into a greek heroine, it might have seemed a little odd for a middle aged woman in suburban Rewa to be holding up a scraggy chook with such self-importance.

I decided to share my experience with Zeeb. Her comment was that she could imagine my life as a sit-com.  She wondered if I could actually hear the harp music and see the waves that usually occur in dream sequence.

So that's todays excitement. A bit of a slow day I guess.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let the silly season begin

Once the calendar rolls over to December, it's officially the Silly Season.  Summer time. Skirts and shorts time. Leg and armpit shaving time. Time to erect my giant inflatable Santa and Rudolph on to the upper front deck. I feel the need to clarify exactly which deck because as you'll recall, the fart in the bucket (which Beloved refers to as a spa pool, even though it's about the size of a toilet bowl) is on the lower front deck - in full view of the street. So clearly there's not enough room for giant inflatables down there, although it could possibly make my night time dips a little less public. We also have a recently erected larger deck at the back. But who wants to erect a giant Santa at the back of the house.

I'm hoping nobody is noticing that I've overused the word "erect".

That Santa nearly caused divorce in our household a couple of years ago. When I get a bee in my bonnet I want things done NOW. I bought Santa and Rudolph on impulse, having decided that our house MUST be the best decorated in the street. It's not that I'm competitive or anything...but nothing else matters except that our display beats the Kumars' Diwalhi lights across the road! So when I bought Santa and his companion, I had nothing to actually plug them into. I did improvise and managed to blow up Rudolph by not having his vent fullly exposed but that didn't matter because Beloved makes a hobby out of taking things back to the shop and getting replacements.  I was extremely upset when I couldn't get everything going immediately and words ensued with my husband.

With the help of some bits of wool and sticky tape, it all worked out in the end and I don't think it really matters that Santa sort of leers over the balcony with Rudolph's butt in his face.  And I decided that the effort was worthwhile when children coming past my house on the way home from school stopped and gasped in wonder (or terror).

So with Zeeb and C's help, Santa and Rudolph are back in position, ready to celebrate the Jay-Man's birthday.  Christmas preparations can officially begin now that I have made it public that I'm officially preparing. No doubt you'll be looking forward to an update on how I go about wrapping the Christmas presents and why I own a Santa suit.

I'm a little disappointed that none of the lights I have hanging around them are working though. That couldn't possibly have anything to do with them being left hanging out there for the last two years - could it?

Maybe it would just be a whole lot easier - and cheaper - to sabotage the Kumar's Diwahli lights.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What would Jo Frost say?

There was a massive tantrum on the way to school yesterday morning. I'm tempted play the martyr and describe how much I suffered with my six-year-old's transformation from cherub to fiend, but the truth is that I deserved it. My son M and the fostie didn't, but I did. Technically, I guess you could say that I'm the person responsible for instigating the riot, but I blame Roald Dahl. After all, it was him who wrote "The Twits".

The previous evening, in true supermum fashion, I was reading to C at bedtime. We've graduated to chapter books now - one chapter a night is just right. Of course C has been skipping ahead to see what happens next but like most kids, she loves having it read out loud. Being a somewhat eccentric person (that's what the title of my blog says), I've thrown myself into the characters: voices, expressions, even the bad smells when I can manage it. Evidently I must be quite clever at it because the other night, she wouldn't let me stop. My voice was tiring of Mr Twit's nastiness and I was itching for the "fart in the bucket". As I tried to leave, C reminded me that she still hadn't read her school journal to me. What kind of mother would I be if I didn't let her do her homework? Thankfully Zeeb arrived and I sensed my escape: "Read to Zeeb!" C wanted Mummy.

I tried to be polite but C is in Group 17 for Reading now and this story was long. Noticing a brown felt tip pen, I devised a cunning scheme. As C was focussed on her book, I drew a beard and moustache on myself. When C saw it, I was able to excuse myself to run to the bathroom and "shave" - leaving Zeeb in charge. Clever, huh? It only took a second to wash it off straight away.
Dramatisation: This is not the actual fake facial hair on my actual face.
The next morning, I was getting C ready for school when I realised what a fantastic role model I really am. She had found the felt tip and grown her own whiskers before going to sleep.

It didn't wash off.

I tried covering it with makeup. It didn't work.

I tried cleansing creme. It didn't work.

Soap...didn't work.

It was time to go to school. C didn't want to leave the house with a moustache and fluff beard. It got pretty serious so in one of his helpful moments, M carried her kicking and screaming to the van.

I lost the keys to the van.

C ran upstairs to the bathroom while I found the keys. M had to carry her downstairs again.

It was a painful journey to school. My ears still echo with the screams.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A wee thought

 As some of you probably know, I'm a very deep thinker. Okay, I admit that I can be a little shallow at times but at least I'm profoundly shallow. Yet another thought was planted in my head the other day when one of my friends asked the Facebook community for opinions on how mums (and dads!) have dealt with nappy rash - for their babies, not themselves. I don't think I've had nappy rash in recent years although I did have shingles once which got into a very sensitive area...perhaps that's a little too much information.  Various lotions and potions were mentioned with Sudocrem and Bepanthen rating quite high. A few of us mentioned having a bare bottom for a bit (again, for the baby, not the mum), which is something I think the Chinese may have perfected here:
The most offensive thing about this picture is that those yellow shoes just might be Crocs
So all this got me thinking about how parents coped with pooping, peeing offspring before the nappy was invented. I don't know if God created a supply in the Garden of Eden. So what did Eve do when Cain and Abel came along? Who knows, perhaps the whole concept of murder came about because Cain had issues relating back to his early toileting years. Anyway, I thought I'd found a really helpful suggestion in the form of Infant Toilet Training.  Apparantly it's as simple as watching Bubs really closely and reading the signals. Then it's just a matter of doing this:

 Ummm...Okay, so maybe there is the advantage of no nappies to wash but seriously, this is where we clean our teeth! Cute baby and all that, although she doesn't look especially happy being dangled over a gaping hole in tattooed arms. No, this is not something I have tried and I can't imagine that Henry VIII and all his royal ancestors were ever toilet trained that way. So, I googled it. Apparantly the wee bairns were wrapped in strips of linen and didn't get changed for a number of days. Eeyew! I don't even think a barrel of Zinc and Castor Oil ointment would deal to the nappy rash that would have produced.  It seems that other cultures used leaves, rabbit skins, whatever was available...while others in warmer climates just let their kids fly commando in the breeze. Hippies!

It's been a while but personally I can testify that nappies are a luxery. When I had my third child, Flitwick was training as a nurse and we were scraping by on a Student Allowance. I could write an entirely seperate blog on the things we did to eke out a frugal existance for a number of years. We had a few cloth nappies from his older siblings (donated by grandparents when Number One was born) but they were a bit thread bare by this time. So using gool ol' kiwi ingenuity, I chopped up a couple of flannelette sheets I'd found in the op shop. Occasionally we'd treat him to a disposable if we were feeling flush and going away from home for a few hours, but generally my son wore pink and purple stripes on his butt and it hasn't made a blind bit of difference to his intelligence or his ability to use the bathroom later on (although it hasn't helped his aim any). He may want to meet with a counsellor if he ever reads this blog and finds out, but for now he's blissfully ignorant so let's just keep this our little secret.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's easy being green

If you were to ask me where my favourite place is to eat, I would have to say the lunch table in our staff room. I love my job. I love my co-workers and I love the kids I work with. The best thing I love about my job is lunch time. In fact, I the only reason I go to work is to have lunch with my friends, which says a lot because I'm only a part-timer and get paid until lunch time. After that, it's my own time so I guess when I stay for lunch (every day!) it's overtime. So evidently I'm a dedicated worker and therefore extremely valuable to the team as a whole.

Lunch at work can be a little weird sometimes, which is probably why it suits me so well. We've got one character who steals lunches and constantly snatches cups of tea right from out of the rightful owners' hands, a couple of us are a bit OCD, we have another one who guzzles all the milk before showing his appreciation with a loud burp (he also claims to have seen one of my nipples as I was searching for something in my Double A filing system once - something which I categorically deny) and everyone (except the lunch stealer) brings in goodies such as chocolate and cake. Another thing I really enjoy about lunch is the random conversation.

Halloween has just been and gone, not that it's a festival I celebrate. Most years I get involved in our church's Halloween alternative, known as the "Light Party". This year I got throw on a clown costume and make balloon animals - after just 1 1/2 hours of training. It's all in how you hold your tongue.
Just some of the cool stuff we made

Meanwhile, Smiley lives in the coolest area on Southside. It's so cool that the people in her street have decided to call themselves a gang. They don't need much of an excuse to throw a party and even have their own exclusive Facebook page. Smiley is a gang member. She'll be wearing a patch soon. So to think of an anonymous equivalent to their name here)...the "Strange Gang" (tee hee!!) had a Halloween party and Smiley was telling us all about it at the lunch table.  Now that she has lived in New Zealand for four years, the pavlova has become Smiley's kitchen specialty. If you're not familiar with the pavlova, google the recipe. It's fabulous and it's ours (and don't let the Australians try telling you that they invented it!)

So for the Strange Gang Halloween party Smiley added her own special twist to the recipe. She made the pav green, with black cream. Normally a pav is white, fluffy and pretty but this one had to be spooky. Apparantly it took a lot of food colouring to make it look this gruesome:

Scary, isn't it!
And that's how the conversation at our lunch table turned to green. At that point Smiley wasn't talking about the pav. She was referring to the effects of the pav...if you catch my drift. Thankfully, she only took a photo of the pav before the systems of those that consumed it. Apparantly it stuck around for quite a while. I'm not so sure if it was the green food colouring; I think it was the black cream.

Naturally I had to put my two cents worth and raise the topic of chooky poo. My kids and I had been watching the baby chicks when one of them screamed out that there was green poop in the coop. We spent quite a bit of time trying to work it out. I was about to turn to Mr Google when my six year old daughter suggested that the red cabbage her daddy had thrown in there might be responsible. OMG! This child is SIX! By golly I think she had something because she was remembering the time I showed her how red cabbage leaves can be used as a pH indicator.
My braniac 6 y/o in her Light Party costume. FIrst prize went to a pink star fish, but there were no "sour grapes"

Speaking of chicken of my chickens came up the steps and took a dump on the back deck (that's kiwi for "patio"). Does this mean that it's now a "Poop Deck"? :o)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Check out my Zumba Arrrrbs!

There's a craze sweeping across this country and I'm in on it. ZUMBA!!!! Yup, I'm an athlete now. I've been to three lessons. And I ran in a quarter marathon once - in a kind of walky-skippy sort of way - but I had a sports drink in a sipper bottle so that pretty much qualifies me as a pro.

Zumba classes started at work a few months back but with having kids to pick up from school, I wasn't able to go along. Most of my friends went and I was left out. Sad. Then Zeeb asked if I wanted to go to a class with her in the evenings - Beloved could babysit. Woo hoo! Zeeb's friend Ren joined us. Yipee! No oldies' classes for me - I'm mixing it up with the hip under 20s crowd now. I love Zumba. The music is awesome and it feels just like a dance party. Not that I've been to very many dance parties - or any dance parties - but if I had, I'm sure it would be just like a Zumba class.

Zumba isn't easy and if I'm honest I'm not especially good at it, but it is a lot of fun. The instructor is a gorgeous little asian lady - Vietnamese or Thai I think - with the most beautiful smile this side of the harbour bridge. How does she look so cheerful while she's doing all that energetic stuff? How does she make her hips do the things they do when she's "thrusting her core"? How come she only has a cute glow while the rest of us are sweating like Jabba the Hutt in a sauna? How does she manage not to trip over during the cool down stretches? 

The gorgeous instructor wears the coolest Zumba gear. She's got the shoes, the racer back top and the cute pants - all with the proper logo. She always has one leg of her pants rolled up. Just one. I'm not sure what that's about. Maybe it's something like a karate black belt. Maybe you're only allowed to wear one leg rolled up when you reach that higher level of double-jointed hip rolling.

I wear trackies - I think that's what unco-ordinated novices are allowed to wear.

It went okay for a few of weeks, then Zeeb had to go off to do a Defensive Driving course and I was too shy to go on my own. Well, that and the lure of "Coronation Street" being on telly. Let's just say I forgot to go to Zumba once Molly and Kevin started snogging on the park bench outside the Rovers.

Zeeb's back in business now so I have been back. I love going to Zumba with Zeeb and her friend Renee. They're fun to be with and I'm hoping for a washboard stomach while I'm at it. However, I was somewhat mortified during a partner segment when I was flying solo. I was happily faking my way through it, skipping and shaking my booty out of time to Cotton Eye Joe, when some do-gooder oldie who had paid her eight bucks to gatecrash the lesson pointed at me and bellowed to the entire class that I didn't have a partner. What the???!!!  It wasn't as if she said it just once. When the lop-sided pants lady didn't hear her, the woman just kept saying it louder until I was sorted out.  

Clearly these are not my Zumba Arrrbs. I have a navel piercing. These arrrbs don't
I wasn't able to go this week. I had an invitation to go out for a banana split at Denny's. What's a girl to do?

Check out my Banana Split Arrrrrbs!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lost in translation

I've been having a think. I really do need to get my mojo back and look for the smiles in life. The last post (Please Say Amen) was a bit of a downer and a huge thank you to those of you who read it and came to me with encouraging words (not everyone posts comments - some people actually do speak to me in real life). Being a foster parent can be rewarding and it can be bl**dy hard - excuse my French. Oooh, that reminds me...when I was a kid, I used to belt out that Beatles song called "Oh Blah Dee, Oh Blah Da" because it meant that I could say "bl**dy" and not get told off for swearing.

Anyway, I thought I'd look for some of the lighter moments. Just before our guy had his spin out (and got cruelly ripped away from us by a "Certain Government Department!!) he would often have friends over to stay. One of these is a lovely Vietnamese boy, J, who has limited English. There had been some talk about a mufti day at school with a super-hero theme. J knocked on my door and asked if I could buy him "clothes". I was a bit concerned and asked if his parents could take him to buy clothes. He said, "No, they no understand. I only one who use computer". I thought that was a bit random but agreed that if he had the money we could arrange something - especially after he flashed 160 bucks under my nose. I mentioned this to Beloved who organised J and his non-English speaking mum to accompany him to the mall on Thursday night.

Incidentally, did I mention that Armageddon was coming up and my son M had been hanging out for it all year? I relented and bought him the costume he'd been begging for. It cost loads but since I have a weakness for costumes resulting in two wardrobes bulging with "interesting outfits", I gave in so that I could add it to my collection.

Anyway, Thursday rolled around and Beloved rocked up to the Mall with J and his mum in tow. It didn't take long for my phone to ring. It was Beloved.
"Errr....what's this costume M's got?"
"Costume? Why do you want to know about that for" I know that's apalling grammar but I was a little nervous about talking to Beloved about M's costume. I couldn't remember if I'd actually told him I'd bought it - on account of how much it had cost (I just thought I'd slip it into my collection without anyone noticing).
"Well it's not "clothes" J wants, it's "CLOUD"! He wants a CLOUD costume like M's!!!"

Ummm...slight misunderstanding there I think.


Back to Armageddon, M wore the costume and now it stinks of his armpits. I'm not exactly sure how to wash it without damaging it. And as for the Cloud costume. When M first asked for one about a year or so ago I said I'd think about it. I planned on surprising him by making one for him but thought it was a bit out of character for him to want something so....fluffy. Thankfully I opened my mouth and suggested that I would need an awful lot of cotton wool to make a cloud costume big enough to fit him. Phew! Good save - he might have looked a bit silly walking into Armageddon covered in fluff. Not that any of the other sci fi fans looked silly of course!

Just one more thought on the horror of the past week. Can someone please tell me, if something doesn't kill you does it make you stronger? Or harder? I don't think I ever want to be hard but is that the only way to stop being hurt by a stupid CGD?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Please say amen

So where's this post gone? Let's just say I'm aware that when it comes to fosties, one must be very aware of "confidentiality" and such. Having just signed a Caregivers' Contract assuring our agency that all information relating to our fosties is handled discreetly, there's been a severe edit here. Kinda like WWII Britain and those letters home with all the holes cut into them.

Thank you to all those people who said "Amen". Things didn't go as we might have liked but I do believe something positive will happen as a result. Although, that doesn't necessarily mean I understand it

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eee by gum!

I was standing outside the McAnnalley Takeaway the other day, waiting for the chips for our Sunday lunch when I noticed something interesting about the pavement. It was literally covered with dried up, old blobs of chewing gum.  I'm a relatively deep thinker and began to ponder the significance of this. I'm guessing that a large amount of the gum had lay there since the shops were built way back in the 20th Century. It would probably need a scientist and a carbon dating kit to confirm this. I'm really intrigued. If only gum could talk - think of all the stories it could tell. There are so many questions I want answered. Who was it that spat it out onto the footpath? How long had they chewed it? Did they blow bubbles with it? What history lessons could the gum teach us? Who has walked over it? What colour was it originally? What became of the original gum chewers?  Are they still alive? Had only one person chewed the gum or had the same piece been shared around a group of kids? Confession: When I was a little kid I once resorted to scraping some fresh gum off the kerb and giving my jaw a bit of a workout before I swallowed it. Now that's recycling at its best!

All very haunting thoughts, but there is one thing that really started bugging me. The takeaway shop is in a block which has a dairy on the corner (for the non-NZ readers, a "dairy" is a corner shop that sells milk, bread, candy, lotto tickets and adult magazines wrapped in plastic). It seems to me that the dairy is the obvious place to buy gum so why would there be so much gum art surrounding the shops? It doesn't make sense. If you've only just bought the stuff, why would anyone spit it out right after buying it?

Speaking of gum art, I've just read that there was a guy in London mysteriously turning old gum into works of art. He was a "gum-guerilla", a phantom, and nobody knew who was doing it for a while. He could have been any "homeless guy" squatting down, inspecting the asphalt.  Now here's someone who speaks my language! He can see the beauty in the ugly and has produced brilliant masterpieces such as this:

Sadly, the rest of London didn't see the merit of his works. It took a while to find him but he was actually arrested for it. Now I think that's much more disgusting than gum on my shoe.

It was the first day of a new term back at work today and my head was still swimming with all these questions when I was in Mr Wi's class. Some kids were googling "How do aeroplanes and birds fly?" and my curiousity peaked.  I wanted to know what exactly keeps an aeroplane from dropping out of the sky because if you ask me, that's just not normal. Some of the boys tried to explain things about engineering and such but I have ovaries so can't possibly get my head around any of that stuff.

"Okay," I interjected "how does a bumblebee fly? It has a fat body and tiny little wings. It just can't do it."
"But it does Miss"
"I dunno, it just DOES!"
"Well what about ants then?"
"Errr....Miss? Ants don't fly."
"Yeah, well how come if I were to fall off a cliff I'd just go *SPLAT*! But if a tiny ant falls off a desk it just keeps going? And what about a car driving off a bridge bursting into flames while a hotwheels car falling off the shelf is fine?"
"Errrr.....Miss? Aren't YOU supposed to teach US things?"
Fair point.

Being the first day back at school meant that the technicians have been upgrading the school computer system again so during the forty minutes I was waiting to log on (I'm not exagerating. It really did take forty minutes!) I turned to Smiley and asked her what she thought about the gum. "Why is there more gum on the pavement outside the dairy and takeaway shop than anywhere else?" Smiley rebooted her computer for a second time and thought for a moment. Then it came to her. "Clearly the chewers arrived at the dairy with their gum and bought a pie, so they had to spit it out. Or maybe they bought chocolate." Of course, how obvious. This is why Smiley is in charge of the laminator while I only get to staple scrap paper into notepads.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

If the bunk's a rockin'...

Years back there used to be an ad on the telly with the catch phrase "Don't leave town till you've seen the country". Geography is one of my many weak points but I'm proud to say that, thanks to Beloved, I have travelled this beautiful little country of ours from Cape Rianga to the Bluff - top to bottom. Well, except for little Stewart Island. As you'll recall from a previous post, poor little Stewie tends to get left out of a lot of the action. I did actually look out across the sea from Bluff because I heard that on a clear day you can actually see little Stewie from there but my eyesight's not that great so I just saw sea and sky.

I was about 6 months pregnant with C when Beloved took us to the South Island. He's a bit of a cheapskate so we drove down in the ute with my kids vomitting in the back (he doesn't seem to believe in hourly pit-stops on a road trip). We crossed the Cook Straight on the Interisland Ferry where I learned that I'm prone to chronic sea sickness (more vomitting).

Not long after Picton, after all the public restrooms had been passed, my eldest announced that she needed a toilet stop. Beloved pulled over at the nearest rest area, which consisted of a patch of grass, a few shrubs and a rubbish bin. Eldest searched for the most discreet area and settled on squatting behind the rubbish bin. Indeed, she was well hidden from the view of all the south-bound traffic. It was just a shame that she hadn't worked out that all the tooting and cheering from the north-bound traffic meant that she'd been mooning them with her little, pink tushy. I would save that story for her 21st but she's 22 now and I forgot to tell it at her birthday dinner so now's as good a time as any.

Flitwick was living in Dunedin at that time so we dropped the kids off with their dad and went on a little tiki-tour around the South Island in the ute. Eventually we found ourselves in beautiful Queenstown. We knocked on the office door of the only backpackers' hostel with a vacancy sign (No expense shared with Beloved, eh?) and were given seperate, mixed, bunk rooms with people half our age. With a bulging uterus and swollen ankles, I found myself staring incredulously at ladder leading to the top bunk. I wondered if this was such a great idea after all and was about to consider the option of sleeping in the back of the ute... Then a nice English boy offered to trade the bottom bunk with me. Relieved and exhausted, I slipped into bed while my young roomates went off to experience the Queenstown nightlife.  I slept soundly until about 2am when my roomies stumbled in the door. I tried to ignore them but it seems that the fun was only just beginning.

I felt someone lifting my blanket and a warm body was attempting to slip in beside me! I knew this definately wasn't Beloved so either my luck was about to change or somebody was making a huge mistake. She was about 20 years old and Canadian and was a little taken aback to find that the nice English boy who occupied the bottom bunk the previous night had morphed into a middle-aged, pregnant Kiwi lady.  My voice was shaky, "Err...we swapped" I said, pointing to the the upper level. You'd think she would have been embarrassed but she just calmly slid out from the covers and climbed the ladder. Then the fun started - for them. Let me tell you, it is not easy to settle back to sleep on a bottom bunk while the whole structure is shaking amidst groans of ecstacy. I know I was pregnant at the time but I'm still quite naive at heart and could not get my head around the situation. Being prone to motion sickness I decided the safest course of action would be to slip out the door discreetly and "wait" in the lounge area for the United Nations to finish their convention. I waited for an hour-and-a-half.
I hadn't waited long enough.

I took a long shower.

They still weren't finished.

I would have been better off in the back of the ute.

I waited until morning and gave them a filthy look when they emerged. Yeah, I bet that taught them a lesson.

Meanwhile in the other room, Beloved hadn't slept so well on his hard bunk either and he had the audacity to have a migraine the next day. I gave him a filthy look too.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Nifty stuff that has changed my life

Back in the day when I was married to Flitwick, we lived near one of the nicest little shopping centres in South Auckland. Over the years things changed and the discount stores moved in (and Flitwick moved out). With English as my first language, it was initially a little disconcerting trying to make myself understood in these shops. Now the entire local mall is made up of these stores - mostly selling the same items - but it doesn't seem to bother me so much now. Of course I rubbish them and their stock if I'm in posh company, but as a gatherer and hoarder of dressup clothes I've found them great for stocking up my wig collection.

But it goes even deeper. I have a great admiration for the people working long hours in these places. I love the "Chinglish" instructions on the products. No-one can keep a straight face after reading: "When old man's child go up hand ladder temporary need the family to accompany". There have been times when I've been tempted to buy something just for the entertainment on the package.

Best of all, I love their ingenuity. I have a Chinese friend who seems to have a gadget for everything, "making her life better simpler and more relief from the mistery of existence" (whatever that means!). So even though I know that I won't find anything of great quality there, when I do the circuit of the mall on my day off I go in with an attitude that I might just find something in there that will change my life forever.
This has been cool. Don't have to set the cutlery on the table anymore. Everyone just grabs their own. Only $3.90.
I never had any place for that blasted egg beater before. It was always jamming the drawers and the tea towel was always getting dropped on the floor. Problem solved for two bucks!

One day I saw something in there that seemed a bit risky but I just had to give it a try. All my life I've had fine, frizzy hair that never seems to grow past my chin. I've longed to tie it back but only seem to end up with a little tuft of candy floss sticking out of the hairtie. A couple of years ago I even shaved it all off - completely bald! It was all in a good cause though and my friends donated over $800 to the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation.  So anyway...there were these scrunchies with fake hair attached!!! It all looked a bit dodgy to be honest. The shine was ridiculous and fake but being the arty farty type I could sense possibility in the (h)air. So I bought two of each colour (cheap as chips!). I washed them repeatedly and roughed them up a bit. I just imagined I was mad with them and gave them a good battering.

I can be brunette
Or I can be blonde

I started out just at weekends to see how it would go at church. Christians are always far too polite to call the fashion police (actually, not true. I've had plenty of strong opinions on the various colours I've put in my hair). After a few weeks of nobody noticing that I looked like an eccentric middle aged lady with a $2 hairy hairtie on my head, so I wore it to work where people actually complimented me on how well my hair had grown. Most mature women would smile mysteriously and say thanks but since it was me I told them that I was wearing a two buck piece. They seemed genuinely surprised (except for Smiley and Ant who I think were immediately suspicious but too polite to say anything). Once in a blue moon my hair will curl in the right places and I can just go natural but most of the time it's a beast and no amount of tugging and gelling is going to control it so the piece has been fabulous. There's just one hitch. I work with teenagers in the school and they're not so easy to fool.

"Miss! You're wearing fake hair!"
"Shhhhh! Do your Maths Molly!"
"Who's wearing fake hair?"
"Shhhh! Get back to work Lennie!!"
"Is your hair fake Miss?" *tweaking my fringe!*
"No it's not and stop tagging in your book!"
Teacher wanders over to investigate and reaches for the piece - only narrowly missing thanks to my deft ability to duck.

...and so it went on for the rest of the Maths period. Now I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I wear my piece, 9VG will continue to be suspicious. If I don't wear it, everyone else will wonder where the rest of my hair is. I've become the female version of the the HOD of Tech who wears a rug! I had a dream about him once...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Fart in the Bucket

A few years ago I quite fancied the idea of a spa pool when Beloved informed me that he had just hit the "Buy Now" on a Trademe cheapie. It was just a matter of going to get it. I was prepared for the 45 minute trip each way. What I wasn't prepared for was the three hours labour required to dismantle it in the blazing mid-summer heat. It was a bit clumsy bringing it home too and Beloved couldn't seem to keep his eyes off the inorganic collection on the side of the road. Beloved had also implied that the spa would be up and running in next to no time. I should have known better. We'd had a similar experience with a chicken coop only that was four hours labour and all we ended up with was a pile of firewood left to rot in our back yard for a couple of years. It was money down the loo and I really think these people should have been paying US to do their work.

So the defunct spa pool sat outside our laundry window for weeks. Weeks became months and which eventually stretched into a couple of years. I think he eventually flicked the thing off to another unsuspecting buyer on Trademe, only they didn't have to dismantle anything. It was gone within five minutes.

We also have some carpet rolled up in our garage that I bought from a friend. It was in excellent condition and just the colour for our house. Three years later and it's still sitting there with hay bales and some of Beloved's Trademe junk cluttering it. I don't know if it will ever be unravelled.

So you'll appreciate why I was cynical when Beloved announced that we'd buy another spa. He assured me that this time it would be the real deal. It didn't help that he started trawling Trademe again. Once again he hit the Buy Now on a bargain.  I told him I wanted no part of it so he took M with him to drag it home. It was a portable Softub which he fitted in very nicely on the lower front deck in FULL view of the entire neighbourhood. I quickly formed an opinion:

"That thing is like comparing a lounge suite to a bean bag! That thing is not a spa pool, it's a Fart in a Bucket. There is no way I'm getting into that thing" I was even less impressed with the front row seats offered to my neighbours.

Eventually I succommed and gave it a try, secretly. In the dark, so that the neighbours wouldn't see. It wasn't too bad. It has four jets and if you hold your hands in front of them you can even get a bit of upper body work out. It's nice and warm and I have to admit that I quite like it.  I've googled it to see how we can make it look nicer. Check this out:

The Softub will make you HAPPY! It will save your marriage!! You can tip water over your husband's head and he'll be too happy to get mad.
The Softub is inside the house! And look how happy the people are. See how she laughs as she pours a watering can over her partner's head. That looks like so much fun!

I don't think it would be so much fun to clean up after playing with watering cans and a Softub in the house so we'll keep it is for now and I'll just keep sneaking out after dark. There are a couple of downsides though. We have no shelter from rain but I've gotten round that by holding a sheet of polystyrene over my head during inclement weather. Clever huh?

The other hitch was when I forgot about a meeting at our neighbouring school and just as I was about to get out, a heavy flow of traffic streamed past my house. Not wanting to give passing motorists and children an eyefull, I had to stay hidden under water for an extra 45 minutes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why do they always make the buttons so small on these things?

About ten years ago I did something very stupid. I bought my mother a cell phone for Mothers Day. It seemed like such a great idea at the time. She was elderly, she doesn't drive and she has a dicky ticker. I thought it would be reassuring to have some way of contacting me if she ever needed transport so I trained her up on how to make a phone call and how to answer the thing when it rang.  She was delighted to have such a flash gift and felt very sophisticated to be one of the only single ladies in the Over 60s Club with her own mobile phone. The novelty wore off within about two hours. It seems that ever since, I've had phone calls - from my mother's land line - asking me how to do this that and the other on her phone.  No amount of explaining that all she needed to do was to be able to send and receive calls was enough to convince her that this phone wasn't a gift from the anti-christ himself. I'm afraid there have been numerous complaints about the buttons being too small for her fingers and the whole thing being too difficult to text.  Ummm...Mum....NO TEXTING! All I want you to do is send and receive calls!  The phone has come in useful when my mum has found herself unexpectedly admitted to hospital and for that reason alone I've never regretted giving it to her.  That is until she starts trying to understand texting again. That's when the phone becomes evil and she doesn't want anything to do with it - yet she can't seem to resist fiddling about with it and growing even more frustrated.

Mum's about to turn 84 - although she doesn't look a day over 64 - and I've replaced the phone over the years, keeping the original phone number to avoid confusion. The latest model was one I saw advertised on telly specifically with the elderly in mind. It has bigger buttons, a larger screen and no bells and whistles to befuddle anyone. It hasn't changed anything though.

Today's phone call was the best yet. My 14 year old son, M, is trying to earn his place into best grandson of all time and visits his nana once a week to help her do the puzzles in her magazines. He rang from her place this afternoon: "When did you first buy Nana the cell phone? Was it before or after 2004? Coz Nana has just found that she sent a text from her phone at 12:15 am in 2004 and she doesn't remember doing it. Do you know what it's about?" I didn't even ask, "Oh and Mum? Nana wants to know if you've found issue 33 of that magazine she gave you about 2 months ago yet." I haven't

When her 24 inch packed a sad a couple of months ago, we gave Mum a flash new telly with HDMI Freeview as an early birthday present. Now I have to think of what to give her for her actual birthday in a couple of weeks' time. I know one thing. It won't be an upgrade for her mobile phone!

Mothers. Gotta love 'em!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What was I going to say again?

I have the best ever blog planned here. Only I'm too darn lazy to write it. I've been dying to give all the ins and outs about what it's like to live with two husbands for a week.  It's interesting observing my ex husband and Beloved interact with one another because they are poles apart, yet they get along like a house on fire. Flitwick, the ex, is leaving us tomorrow and I'm gutted about it. I've almost grown accustomed to the cups of tea, not having to cook dinner and no dishes. He really is the most house-trained man I've ever met. He should be, considering I spent 17 years training him!  I think it's Flitwick's fault that I just don't feel in the mood to write my coolest entry yet. You see, after dinner there was nothing for me to do except to go and have a soak in our little hot tub that Beloved purchased off Trademe for a meagre 300 and something bucks. I fondly refer to it as the "Fart in a Bucket" because it's not very big and I was sceptical about whether or not it would work properly considering it's dimensions and affordability.

Beloved has situated the Fart right on our lower, front deck in full view of the entire neighbourhood, which is why I have to wait for nightfall before I can slip out there in my undergarments. Don't be too shocked - I'm saving on laundry and it's not nearly as bad as what Beloved wears (as in does NOT wear) when he slips out there.

So, I've just come in from a nice long soak in the Fart - in the the dark, Fart...and I've completely forgotten what I was going to say.  It had something to do with broody hens, fertilized eggs, earthquake survival kits and dinner at Denny's. I'm sure it'll come to me later in the week.

Gee I'm going to miss Flitwick. May the next year fly by until he visits again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Modern Family

Some families are so interesting and complex. My mother for example, married her second cousin when she was eighteen. Prepare yourself to be confused...

This marriage produced two sons - my half brothers. However, since my mother’s husband sits on the branch of my family tree as my third cousin, that also makes my brothers my 4th cousins, which means that they are also 4th cousins to themselves as well as each other.  Add to this that after my mother and her first husband divorced, her husband’s brother’s wife introduced her to my father, who was also her brother, therefore making my aunty Mum's sister-in-law throughout two seperate marriages. This is sounding far too incestuous for my liking.  Still, that was decades ago and people didn’t get out much so I suppose it was pretty much normal.

Then there’s my family today. The other day I was sitting on the laptop replying to an e-mail to my former boyfriend. You may remember the “Lust Muffin” from a previous blog entry (also, I’m fully aware that sitting on my laptop could cause it to overheat and damage the hard drive). While I was e-mailing the LM I was listening to my ex husband, “Flitwick”, playing in the other room with my six year old daughter to my current husband, “Beloved”. Now there’s an interesting situation.

Flitwick and I had a happy marriage for almost 17 years which produced three of the most amazing kids I’ve ever met. But eventually things cracked and sadly we parted company. Although it was distressing at the time, a mutual decision was made for us to remain good friends and still share family connections. Flitwick lives in another country now but being the good dad that he is, he makes an effort to see his kids every year or so.  Jet setting across the Tasman can get rather pricey so offering accommodation is one way we can contribute to this “Dad” time.  Besides, I love having him here. Flitwick cooks. Flitwick folds washing. Flitwick babysits. Flitwick makes cups of tea. It’s just like having another wife for a week!

So this week our household is made up of two husbands (or possibly two wives, with the temporary wife sporting a five o’clock shadow), a mixture of kids ranging from full-blooded to half-siblings and fosties, as well as a number of chickens, cats and a dog.  I’d complain about all the mouths to feed, but I am getting a little extra help this week., thanks to Flitwick.I'm hoping he'll be able to teach Beloved a thing or two...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blue September

Hey guys, I hope you've remembered to ask your doctors to arrange a PSA blood test sometime soon. Don't go thinking you're too young to have Prostate Cancer. Beloved was 48 when he got the shock of his life. Thanks to a bit of a zap with over a hundred radioactive seeds, he's all good.

And don't go thinking that "things won't work" any more if you do find you need treatment. Beloved was nuked about 8 years ago and our youngest is 6 years old. Do the maths :)

So guys, man up and get to the doc. And ladies, use every trick in the book to MAKE your man get it sorted.

Friday 3rd September - Blue Friday. I'm wearing a blue tunic with blue earrings and blue facepaint.
It's also staff quiz night - not that I need an excuse to dress up in a costume...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quiz Night

It’s the grand School Staff Quiz night on Friday and nothing else matters to me other than our department  thrashing the PE department, the Maths department and quite possibly the “Card Table” who tried to filch our Dean for their team.  Come to think of it, there might be just one other thing that I consider more important than beating out the opposition, and that’s beating out the opposition in the Costume section. Costumes are my “thing”.  Many have suggested that my obsession with costuming has become a fetish - I prefer to call it an “affinity” that is well-suited to my creative being.

I’m constantly trawling the Costumes section on Trademe. I don’t really want to think about the total amount I’ve spent on items such as a Superwoman outfit, a wizard’s cloak, a tutu, a child’s dinosaur costume, various ball gowns, a pink French maid set, a gladiator costume, a toga...and so on...and on...and on...

With two wardrobes jam-packed (one with children’s gear, the other for adults) and a large chest of drawers stuffed with accessories, I’ve taken it upon myself to oversee what will be worn by our quiz team. And with ten in the team (at least I hope there are ten because I’ve just coughed up the hundred bucks to register “The Truants”), I’ve ignored my “collection” and opted for a simpler choice which is readily available to us in a school setting. Besides, me and my costumes are a size ten (which is probably a size teensy in other countries) and the other team members...probably aren’t.

So that is how the Dean of our department came to distract a few classrooms on a Monday morning by strutting about in a girl’s full school uniform. He seemed to think he looked pretty hot, even if it was just a rehearsal. I’m not sure if I care to comment any further other than to say that I’m looking forward to the real thing on Friday night. I hope he shaves his legs.
UPDATE: We won the best costume!! Our prize was a chocolate fish each (it's a Kiwi thing). As for the quiz itself, we were beaten by...everyone :-\

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My lips are sealed

Ever sit down to blog something and realise that you've got nothing to say?

I think I'll share the "Fart in a Bucket" tale next...or quite possibly "What's on my Trade Me Watchlist"...I'm bidding on a few mascot costumes at the moment. I really hope I win the Scooby Doo costume because then I'll have an excuse to travel across town to Waitakere to visit a Facebook friend I haven't met yet.
Besides, I'm sure a Scooby Doo costume will come in very handy some day.

I think I'll go visit the Fart in a Bucket to see if it will inspire me for my next "real" blog.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A night out on the town

This might be difficult to believe but some years ago I did something embarrassing. I hadn’t married my Beloved yet and we’d been invited to a friends “significant” birthday party (before continuing, I need to clarify that Beloved’s son had a party the previous evening starting at 5:30. It’s important to know that because it excuses my confusion). Beloved arrived with my younger kids while I followed on with my older daughter. He called me enroute telling me that I was late and dinner had started so they’d tuck in without me. Once I got there I profusely apologized to our bubbling host for being late and advanced on the buffet. The host with the most was (and still is) a very gracious man  (incidentally, he also happens to own his own gardening business and if he’s reading this -you know who you are and there WILL be a blog in the very near future about your escapades this morning!). I don’t like to give out real names on the web so let’s just call him “Drucie” and his gorgeous wife “Penny”. Anyway, “Drucie” smiled knowingly and assured me that he knew “some people” who would be arriving even later. Evidently I’d misread the invite: family was arriving at 5:30 and we weren’t supposed to be there until around 7pm. It was just a mere faux pas and neither Drucie, Penny nor myself have mentioned it since. Besides, it was water off a duck’s back for Beloved and he didn’t seem to mind a bit.

Since that time Beloved has well and truly had payback for my little indiscretion. Take last night for instance. It was his work’s social club do and since he’s the Treasurer, it was important for us to attend. In previous years the White Shirts have been there and the venue has always been classy so I pulled out all the stops in preparation. I shaved my legs – and it’s still winter. I spent two hours deciding what to wear, wore my fake hairpiece, slapped on a ton of makeup, to look like I wasn't actually wearing any, and even balanced in stiletto heels. Zeeb was all set for babysitting and we hopped into the little yellow “Mini Shagmobile” (I’ll show you a picture sometime) and hit the road. Then I realized something was up.

“Is THAT what you’re wearing?” I asked, glancing at the faded sweatshirt in the driver’s seat. I wasn’t reassured when he told me he was wearing a clean shirt underneath and his “good” trousers. And I was really getting concerned when he finally told me the venue. Not Ellerslie Racecourse. Not even Waipuna Lodge. My aim was too high. Turned out this year it was for “the blue collar workers at the Onehunga Working Men’s Club”! Think pub, jeans, tee shirts, jandals. I could have worn my pyjamas and fitted in better. I smiled through gritted teeth and hissed at Beloved “Aren’t you glad I’m on medication right now. But later you are going to SUFFER for this!” If you are a man reading this then take away this one lesson if you want to have a long and happy marriage: Inform your wife about the dress code!

I have to say that it was a cultural experience for me. There was definitely a Pacific Island influence on the evening which is quite nice. I would have just felt a little more comfortable if I wasn’t scrubbed up like a pink *Palagi poodle. (*Palagi – pronounced “pahlahngee” – not a Pacific Islander). I leaned back in my bar stool and tried to pull off the casual, propping up the table look. Luckily I happened to have spare shoes in my handbag so I was able to discreetly change my footwear, while using my coat to cover up the bling on my top. Surely no-one’s surprised about the shoes. Knowing about what fits in my "AA Filing System", it’s hardly surprising I’d have half a wardrobe crammed in my purse.
Pick the nephew!
The entertainment was massive. “Massive” as in impressive and “massive” as in…not petite. I’m not saying they weren’t pretty to look at in their shiny, pink shirts but when they sang “Who Let the Dogs Out” I noticed a few party goers trying to suppress their chuckles. The band’s tireless performance incorporated a bit of Old School with a Cook Island Flavour. I’d hire them any day. Right after Beloved’s opening speech complimenting the “All Female, Girl-Power crew”, the lead singer introduced her sisters and NEPHEW. I later intercepted Beloved trying to apologise to him over the pavlova at the dessert table. Let sleeping dogs lie, I say! Besides, any guy with long hair who sings with his aunties while wearing a pink shirt is probably used to the occasional slip up anyway.

Pacific Island dancing is different to the headbanging stuff I grew up with in the 70s. It involves lots of hip swinging, what looks some sort of squatting and knees knocking together, all on tip toes. Trust me, it looks easier than it is. I gave it a whirl but I strongly suspect I turned it into some kind of epileptic chicken dance. I only stood on one foot though and I don’t think anyone was seriously injured.  It could have been a disastrous night out but I decided that since everyone was getting somewhat blotto and I’d probably never see any of them again, I might as well have a great time. I even lucked out when some guy around my daughter’s age tried to chat me up and share his drink with me. 
 A short while later a long-term employee of the company struck up a conversation with me: “He sure stands out you know” he was glancing in Beloved’s direction. I followed his gaze and had to agree. Beloved surely does stand out in a crowd.  He's tall and round with shocking sense of dress and a big nose. He blurts things out that you wish you could bury in a hole somewhere and doesn’t seem to be scared of anybody. I nodded knowingly, but I was a bit taken aback by what was said next.
“I’m proud to know him. He’s been the Treasurer for a long time now and I wouldn’t trust anyone else. He’s a good man!”
Yes. Yes he is!