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!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The science of bed linen

I don’t object to doing a little house work. I can endure vacuuming and even toilet cleaning, which is just as well since there are three loos and a number of boys with bad aim in this house.  But there are one or two jobs I just can’t stand - ironing for instance. I don’t do it. Since God created polyester I think it would be a sin to go looking for wrinkly linen to press. Dealing with rubbish bags is another pet hate. Oh, and changing the toilet roll. Okay, I know that’s more than a couple of jobs but this is a blog, not a Maths lesson.
See this? It's EMPTY! It needs CHANGING!
 It baffles me how this household whips through 19/20ths of a toilet roll in a matter of minutes, only to leave a few sheets of paper languishing on the holder under the guise of being tissue that’s still on the roll.  People are like: “See? It’s not empty. I don’t have to change it!” But I’m not fooled so easily, especially when I need more than two pieces of bog roll for myself, which is why it often falls to me to finish the dreaded deed. Fresh rolls and a rubbish bin are right by each loo. Where’s the rocket science in this?

And what’s the deal with changing the linen on a shared bed? It’s just not my scaly skin those dust mites are chowing down on you know. I thought duvets were meant to make things easier but for me it just gets a whole lot more confusing.  Wrestling with something that resembles a colossal shopping bag usually results in me feeling cranky with tired arms. This isn’t helped when the dog decides to catapult herself onto the pillows and mess the whole thing up. No matter how much I spend on fancy quilts and comforters, it still looks like a pile of sacking. 

I got clever yesterday and after changing the sheets, left it for Beloved to fill the duvet cover. This was a first so I warned him that it might be a little tricky, which must have appealed to his macho boys-can-do-anything side because, under my careful guidance, he essentially ended up doing a splendid job. He even plumped the pillows as instructed. I’ve decided that he can do bed detail on a more regular basis. Besides, he’s taller than me, which makes his arms longer, which means that he can shake that thing into place without actually getting swallowed up by it.

I don’t know why I struggle with this particular job. When I first got a duvet I was completely flummoxed. It took me nearly an hour to put that blasted cover on and it still didn’t look right. Ten years later I’d decided that the malfunction lay in poor design. It came to my attention that the duvet inner never quite fit the duvet outer and I decided to fix it and fix it good. Out came the scissors and the sewing machine. The thing was always too wide in the sides and too short in the length so it seemed like a straight forward assignment: hack off one side and attach it the bottom. It would have been fool proof…if only it had never needed doing in the first place.’d spent the previous ten years inserting the stupid inner sideways. So now I've drawn arrows all over my duvet inner to ensure that I can tell which end is where. Well of course it seems obvious NOW…anyone can have the wisdom of hindsight. Yeesh!  Oh well, we live and learn…
Looks I need to find some matching pillow slips!

Oh, and thanks to my friend Mrs B for coming up with this innovative idea yesterday:
Turn your duvet cover inside-out and grab the bottom corners of the duvet with your hands on the matching corners inside the cover. Then just shake the whole thing and Voila! You duvet is covered!
I just wish she’d told me that on Monday…ten years ago.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

To all the guys I've loved before....I'm sorry! (and I really really mean it)

I love how the world has become a smaller place with the advent of the internet. Any smaller and it will probably implode but for now I quite like the “village” feel it has to it.  Recently I was traced online by my “Lust Muffin” from high school, which was a nice surprise.  I was 16 when we were going out and it was the love affair of the century – which lasted all of 7 or 8 weeks. I even thought his braces were cute.  I think it ended when I called him on the phone one day and his brother answered by saying, “He’s not here and it’s over!” How quaint. These days he would have probably got his brother to text me.
So I got thinking about another guy I went out when I was in fifth form (let’s just call him “GIlbert”).  I thought I’d hop online and look him up on which  took about 30 seconds.  We met at the school disco which had a fancy dress theme.  I was wearing a home-made harem girl get-up with tassles on the boobs which, combined with strobe lighting in a dark corner, obviously made me irresistible.  Now in case anyone doubts my devotion to Beloved, I need to clarify that my intentions in tracking down this guy were totally noble.  I know this might seem a bit far-fetched, but back then I was a mean girlfriend. Although he was tall, dark and as he put it himself, didn't "look like the back end of a bus", I didn’t fancy this poor sap at all, I just wanted to have a guy-accessory so that I could look as popular as all the other girls who only went out with their fellas just so they could appear as popular as I was attempting to be. Appearances are everything when you’re a spotty 15 year old with frizzy hair and nobbly knees. So this poor boy was subjected to oodles of eye-rolling, dodging of hand-holding and not a lot of snogging (which as it turns out I’d saved up for the Lust Muffin).
I did try to do something nice for him once.  Before leaving for a church camp he’d hinted very strongly about girls who send home baking to camp through the post to help their fellas ease the heartache of their enforced separation. So I thought I’d give it a shot. It’s just a pity that I mistook the cornflour for icing sugar and that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.
Anyway, it seemed like a nice gesture to flick an e-mail to this man last week and send him a bit of an apology for the way I treated him thirty-two years ago.  Hopefully he’s gotten over me by now.
From here I could go off onto a tangent either about my kitchen mishaps (I can tell you exactly what happens when you put 1 cup of baking powder into a batch of shortbread) or the boys that have had the pleasure of being in my company during my much younger days – but perhaps I’ll spare the details. You’d never be able to look at scorched almonds in the back-row of the movies in quite the same way again.
Long before the internet came into my life, I went to a primary school reunion where I was able to catch up with a much more grown up Pete. He had been a bit of a delinquent during his childhood and I’m pretty certain he got the strap in Mrs T’s class even more than I did. But he certainly didn’t deserve to cop the blame for when I hurled a brick through window of a house being demolished in Victoria Road. Of course it was totally out of character for me because I was a “good” girl. Don’t ask me what made me do it but once I heard that glass shatter I was out of there. I seem to recall hearing some old guy yelling out Pete’s name and threatening to either call the police or give him a good thrashing.  I felt bad about that for decades, which is why I blurted out a garbled apology as soon as I saw him (minus his hair) at the reunion.  He seemed bemused. “Oh was that you? I didn’t notice. Me and my cousin were too busy stealing the copper from the place to even notice you were there.” You mean I’d been stewing all those years just to find out that he had been up to no good in the first place?  
Do you suppose Gilbert has forgiven me yet? Only…it’s just that I haven’t had a reply to my e-mail yet…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bras, boots and sundry items

I want one of these!

There are lots of surprises for me at the end of the day and I’m sure I’m not the only woman to experience this. No, this has nothing to do with my Beloved’s affections. It’s because I use my bra as a pocket. In fact, this is about the only advantage I can think of in having a double A cup - there’s loads of room to put things. I’m such an optimist; I can even delight in the added benefit of wearing boots and socks on a cold day. I can tuck a complete pencil case down my left calf if I have to.  In my job, I need to conceal key items on my person for any crisis situation that may pop up. I prefer to carry things discreetly because I’m so stylie and bulgy pockets just aren’t a chic look.

Often when I enter a classroom, I’m pestered for pens, pencils, rulers and erasers. I’ve come to the conclusion that if kids can’t organise a pen to write with on a daily basis by the time they reach 13 years or older, it’s up to them to sort it out and not me. I refuse to be their personal stationery shop so I keep my own goodies well hidden in easily accessible underwear. I’m not completely without a heart though. Heaven forbid that I should stand in the way of a student and their education, which is why I keep the “Coloured Pencil of Shame” in my sock. Somehow a kid is usually able to miraculously locate a ballpoint when given the option of using a blunt purple pencil scented with a touch of toe jam. I ask no questions about whose lunch they traded to acquire it. Sometimes ignorance really bliss.

Generally, by the time I drive out the school gates in the afternoon, I’ve forgotten about my secret stash and quite happily go about the rest of my day without giving it a second thought. Then before you know it it’s time for my pjs and eye mask (and hopefully one day, a nose warmer) and sundry articles fall off my person and onto the floor. Ahhhhh, so THAT’S where I put that pencil sharpener!

On a good day there can be quite a haul of goodies in my bra and boots. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what goes where because I’m not telling. The bounty might include any, some or all of the following:
Cell phone
Eftpos card (occasionally accompanied by my Fly Buys and Foodtown One Card)
Red pen
Blue pen
Pencil sharpener
Whiteboard marker (in case any kids are naughty for a Reliever and I need to write their names on the board. I have no plan after that but it seems to scare the heck out of some of them)
Stickers (in case any kids are good for a Reliever and I can give them a little treat at the end of the period so that all the naughty kids can see it and not get one)
Hand sanitizer
Hair tie
Fake hair to put over the hair tie (hey, that’s my secret!)

I reckon if I keep this up, I might be able to do away with my handbag and lunch box one day.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thumbs up for the weekend

I owe Ant my weekends. She’s the mastermind who came up with the idea that has changed my Saturday nights forever...or until the kids grow up. With seven plus people in the house on any given night, dinner’s become a mass catering affair with yours truly being the head slave...I mean...”chef”. That’s all very well for Rachel Ray wannabes but I’m more of a Paris Hilton clone. I’d rather not actually work for my dinner. I was having a moan about this when Ant flicked the switch that turned on the light bulb by suggesting we introduce Pizza Night.  At first I wasn’t sure how this could work since I’m a coeliac and have to make my own gluten free pizza dough. When I tried to explain that I didn’t want to be spending hours making separate pizza Ant just rolled her eyes before pointing out the obvious: readymade pizza bases. Oh my gosh, you mean I can actually BUY those? I am living in a science fiction world! All I would have to do is make my own base, chop an onion and leave the kids to do the rest. Can kids cook? Yes they can! Even the 6 y/o and her 3 y/o visiting nephew have been into it.

No-mess, gluten free pizza dough rolling. Yay for shortcuts!

It's the stuff under the fingernails that gives the pizza that special seasoning :)
So now I’m having Saturday nights off. No standing over the stove stirring a big pot of mince and lentils (the lentils stretch the mince out, add nutrition and the kids don’t even notice them).  But something I love even more is that a new tradition has been created that is going to become one of those warm, fuzzy memories in another decade or so. I love watching the kids passing olives around, slicing their own ham and salami and just generally getting along. I also love that they help clear the table and do the dishes while the pizza’s cooking.

So now I’ve decided I want Sunday off as well. We already have Chip Sunday Lunch from the MacAnnalley Takeaway so without further ado, I’m proud to present...(fanfare please): Toasted Sandwich Night (with special thanks to The Warehouse for their $12.99 sandwich makers). Gluten free bread for me of course.

I wonder if Ant has any ideas on what I can do about the heap of washing down stairs? I’d ask her, but I don’t like to talk about my dirty laundry in public.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Never tick off your hairdresser

I’ve often contemplated what possessed me to train as a hairdresser. Considering I didn’t love the job, it all seemed pointless and I’m certainly glad I flagged it. But this afternoon I had an epiphany; everything just fell into place. All those pernickety clients, long late nights and dodgy workmates finally had a purpose. My creative skill was finally about to fulfil a greater plan that came into action today.

There are ups and downs in having fosties. It’s exciting to see growth and development in lives that once seemed so bleak. Usually it’s a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of progress and it can be really discouraging when it’s one of “those” days. The e-mail from the Deputy Principal had the ominous Subject Header “Another Bullying Issue” and said something along the lines of: “Yesterday I had yet another mum call me about N* bullying her son. As you can imagine she was pretty upset and angry and wanted answers. I’ve spoken to the boy who confirms that N has been constantly bullying him both verbally and physically by pushing and shoving. I have also spoken to N who admits his actions (he’s honest, I give him that). When I asked why he did it he said he thought it was fun!”

Uh oh...

Since the fosties were due for their haircuts I figured this would be an ideal opportunity for the offender to become a captive audience. I lured him into the seat with a beguiling smile and caped him up in pink (such a calming colour don’t you think?). He didn’t notice when I removed the #3 guard and slipped on a #1. After taking out a few chunks on one side I knew the time was right to put forward a suggestion to the boy: “Sit there and think about anything you might have to tell me.” Then I walked away. The look on his face was precious!

I think he was in shock. I started cooking dinner while he stared at his reflection in the mirror with huge, sad eyes. I put some washing on. I made a cup of tea. I read a magazine. He sat...

Half an hour later I decided he was ready - he’d decided he’d had enough! Eventually I found him hiding in his bed blubbing his little heart out. Ooooh, that sounds so bad! I am an EVIL foster mummy! He’s twelve years old and neglect during his early years has taught him a few tricky behaviours. We’ve seen huge improvements in the past 11 months but every now and then he slips back into it.  Ignoring the guilty pangs pricking my stomach I addressed the lump under the duvet. He cried all the way through the lecture.

CYFs have some strict guidelines about what constitutes abuse of kids in care: nothing physical, never lock a child in a room, no put downs....does a bad haircut count as ill-treatment? Oh heck! Could I go to JAIL for cruelty? What if I couldn’t get him back to finish the cut? Everyone would know I did it and my reputation as a hair stylist would be wrecked forever!

There was a long wait while he cried it out so I started a razor cut on his younger brother’s “Justin Bieber-inspired” hair. Funny, he seemed a little nervous.  Eventually N composed himself and it was a very subdued young man sitting in the chair for the rest of his haircut.   I think he would have preferred Edward Scissorhands standing behind him at that point but he was stuck with me. Fortunately I love this kid to pieces so silent remorse prompted me to give him the best haircut of all time. After a lengthy shower he emerged a different boy in both appearance and attitude. Let's hope it lasts.

N’s keen to go on the school camp in a few weeks so we still have some blackmail to brandish over him. Let’s just hope he can keep his hands to himself in the interim.