Friday, February 29, 2008

Step right up folks, the show is about to begin!

Ok, now where was I? That's right. Blogging.

Princess has been at school for a few weeks now and she is absolutely loving it. She has already impressed the teachers with her exuberance, vitality and ability to speak while running, jumping, eating and drinking. She has also been quick to make friends and to hear her tell it, her entire class, plus several of the other classes, are her very best friends. The school she attends is quite large and there are four Prep classes of nearly 20 kids in each. Princess has already been nominated as the class representative on the Junior School Council for her class, though she has no idea what that actually entails.

Probably the most pleasing thing to hear is how ready Princess is to help out her class mates. Some of the other kids have had a hard time adjusting to school life and Princess is always ready to jump in and try to make them feel at home. She worries about how other kids feel. I guess no matter how we might feel as parents in terms of success, we can always just look at how our little girl is turning out to get a fair idea of how we are doing. Obviously there is still along way to go, but so far, I must say I'm very proud of her.

Princess has not only embraced the social side of school, but also the academic side. Every night when I come home she has something new to show or tell me that she learned that day. In only a few weeks her writing has shown remarkable improvement and I am confident she will be reading fluently very soon. All in all she is growing up very quickly.

While I remember I should mention a little conversation I overheard between Princess and Little Man a few days ago. A TV show about dinosaurs came on and Princess and Little Man were very excited.

Princess: Wow! This show has dinosaurs. We haven't seen this one for ages!
Little Man: Yay! Dinosaurs!
Princess: But those dinosaurs are bad. We don't like them.
Little Man: I like them.
Princess: Shut up, you fool.

It was like my children were channelling the A-Team.


Thought for the Day: If I am a blogger, are you the bloggee??

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chutney! Too few blogs start with it.

Ok, so its time to tell the world about Princess' first day at school. In the days leading up to that wonderful event, DW had made sure that ALL the little things had been taken care of. Labels, books, pencils, lunch boxes, drink bottles, hair ties, school logos, more labels, hats, shoes, haircuts, textas, school bag and even more labels. We even coaxed Princess to bed at a reasonable time, though she was so excited that I'm sure she lay awake for a long time. But fortunately she was so worried that something might happen to prevent her going to school, such as being naughty and told she would have to wait another year, she was as quiet as a mouse. Little did she realise that we were just as excited as she was, and naughty or not, she was going to school come hell or high water.

Well, perhaps we were not quite as excited as she was. At 6:22am she came into our room fully dressed with her hat and bag on and her lunchbox and drink bottle already packed. There was no food or water in them yet but she didn't care. In her loudest whisper she hissed,"I'M READY TO GO."

Well that was how our morning started. Eventually, after she had eaten as much breakfast as her excited little tummy could handle, the time finally came to leave. Little Man was a little confused as to the commotion but he's pretty laid back about things so we got his little "school bag" ready, opened the front door and let Princess loose on the world. We headed off on our three minute walk to the school about 27 minutes earlier than we needed to. Needless to say we arrived very early. But we were not the only ones. Many of Princess' friends from Kinder and Mum's Group were also attending the same school so there was lots of catching up amongst the mums, and the kids, but mostly Princess just wanted to get in there and start the learnin'.

Eventually the doors opened and we were swept up in the flow of people like water going down the plug hole. We found Princess' room and bag hook and somehow found our way through the quagmire and into her classroom. The teacher was all ready taking photos of the new arrivals and we had our "first day" family photo taken. Once that was over, we found Princess' name card on a table and she settled in and started drawing a picture. Other kids were hugging their parents goodbye, clinging on to legs, or being strangled by weeping mothers. Some had decided to run around and jump they were so excited and some parents were already yelling at their kids to calm down because they hadn't even been in the school for five minutes and already they were acting like idiots. But Princess was already sitting down and working. She was there for the learning and it was time to start. She took a moment for a quick hug goodbye and got straight back to it. She barely looked up as we left. She had already finished her first picture and was starting her second. She was ready. Let the learning begin.

I was able to have the day off so that I could be with Princess on her first day. DW and I walked Little Man home and then sat and had a coffee. We had made it. We got Princess into the school system in one piece. It had been touch and go there for a while. So we sat and had a quiet moment while Little Man ate his snack. When DW had made Princess' lunch, Little Man insisted that he too should have a lunch box, so she prepare something for him. As soon as we got inside, he sat himself down in the entry and proceed to eat his snack. After the walk and something to eat, he was tired and went down for his nap so finally, it was completely quiet at our house. Little Man slept for two hours. It was amazing, not because it was quiet, but more because this kind of quiet would happen every school day. That was the most amazing thing of all.

But all too soon the peace had to come to an end. Little man woke up and had to be fed and the first three days of school for Princess ended at 1pm so we all headed back down to the school and found the same collection of parents waiting patiently outside the classrooms. I think some of them actually waited there. Anyway, eventually Princess came racing out and proceeded to try to tell us everything she had done while simultaneously showing us all the new playground skills she had developed while simultaneously running a separate conversation with each and every other child in the playground at the time. Eventually I convinced her to come home for some lunch and then had to convince DW to come home as well, because she got caught up chatting with the other mums. A couple of Princess' friends also walk the same way we do so our little contingent headed off, the first day of school over.

I think Princess spent those first few days thinking that maybe school was going to suddenly stop or something, and she'd be home again, forever. She was desperate to get back there and still takes some encouragement to leave. At least now she is starting to realise that she only has to stay home on weekends, holidays and when she is sick. And she is really loving it. But more on that next time.


Thought for the Day: Also chutney. Too few blogs end with it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ahh, Valentine's Day. Once again that line is drawn in the sand and men everywhere must jump across it. Sure some men will belittle the day by calling it a trumped up money spinner for card makers, chocolatiers, jewellers, florists and other greedy purveyors of Love's affectations, and grudgingly drag their feet across. Some will hurl themselves across in a desperate hope to break the dry spell between intimate encounters. Some poor fools will be facing the wrong way and not even realise the line has been drawn. But most men will simply step across that sandy line, buy some flowers or chocolates or both and not worry about why Valentine's Day exists. It just does, ok.

I am of the latter camp, though I bought neither chocolates or flowers. I didn't buy chocolate because we already have a lot of chocolate in the house. That's a story for another blog. I also didn't buy flowers because I like to give flowers as a special surprise, so the one day I am least likely to buy them is on Valentine's Day. Also, February 14th was on a Thursday so I was coming home from work and flowers don't enjoy the commute. So, instead I bought DW a couple of CDs that I knew she would enjoy.

DW on the other hand, prepared a wonderful candlelit dinner with a bottle of wine and an early dinner for the kids. She cooked a delicious meal and followed it with a dessert to match. But what made the evening really special was that we actually sat and chatted. We just don't get the time to do that as much these days. I don't mean we don't talk, because we do, but we don't get to just chat away without the usually worries of the world constantly drifting to the fore. DW and I chat really well. We do some other things EXTREMELY well, but we also chat really well. Despite the fact that we are passionate about very different things, we still find common ground. I guess that's why we work so well. Having shared interests can give some couples stuff to talk about, and in other cases its the opposites that attract, but for us, we have a bit of both. And we really like each other. That seems important somehow.

So another Valentine's Day has passed and the next one is but a distant speck on the horizon, with a whole lot of year between. One thing I have learned, no matter what a year might hold, sharing it with DW makes the tough parts bearable and the great parts spectacular. So for all you guys out there that are just drifting along in your relationships, I suggest you dive right in and thoroughly enjoy your significant other, even if it means celebrating "Your-wife-or-girlfriend-will-love-you-more-if-you-give-us-money" Day. Valentine's Day is easier to say.


Valentine's Thought for the Day: "Je tiendrai votre coeur dans des mes mains" (English - "I will hold your heart in my hands."). Also makes a great battle cry.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Welcome to today's episode of "The Waiting Game", starring Princess (in all 48 roles).

Yep, this is another trip down recent memory lane, to the month of January (I'm slowly catching up) when all thoughts of Christmas were but a faint memory. For much of last year we had been telling Princess that she would start school soon after Christmas. We should have expressly mentioned that it would be more than a few hours post Yule celebrations. As soon as we settled back home, she started. "When do I go to school?" "Is it nearly time to go to school?" "Is it morning tea time?" "Will there be morning tea at school?" "Is it nearly time?" "Why does it take so long for school time to come?"

So DW and I had to implement delaying tactics. We tried such gems as "Who's at the door?" and then run and hide, and the all-time parenting classic, "If I give you a jelly bean will you shut up for five minutes." We bought DVDs, we encouraged the kids to play together, outside, in another room, any where that was away. We read books and played board games and it was all to no avail. Princess wanted to go to school and she was determined to drive us mad, no matter what it took. However, we devised a clever plan.

Little Man still needs a sleep during the day and Princess would probably benefit from having one as well, but she flatly refuses. Anyway, we decided that we would "play" school each day, where I would sit with Princess and go through her "school" books (activity books) with her. This is how I spent my hard earned long service leave. But the playing of "school" was contingent on her having "quiet" time, for a whole hour. This meant no questions, no singing opera, no giggling like an idiot, no playing with toys that made ANY sort of noise and we were also forced to add, no made up sign language or interpretive dance. It took a bit of convincing but Princess was so desperate to go to school, that "pretend school" became the drug of choice. And so, for an hour each day, Princess was completely quiet and Little Man slept. DW and I had successfully negotiated a Peace treaty, and that silence was truly golden.

It mostly worked, but it was torture for the poor girl who hadn't actually stopped talking, even to take a breathe or sleep, since she was conceived. Yep, she was a womb talker, but at least then all the fluid in her lungs dulled the whining. However, to her credit, Princess gave it a red hot go and rose to the occasion, slipping up only a few times. We were so impressed we gave her a jelly bean out of shock.

Anyway, as the "Blessed Day" drew closer, quiet time became harder and harder, but just as Christmas had done, the day finally arrived. I always knew Christmas would come but I admit I had begun to doubt the the first day of school would. So we all made it through January relatively intact, barely. Princess has now begun a new phase in her life. She informed DW on the night before school started that she would no longer be giving us Little Girl hugs, because tomorrow she would be a Big Girl. And for the briefest moment we thought about how our beautiful little girl was growing up so fast, and about how she would need us less and less. DW cried a little. I even felt the weight of that moment until I remembered the last 2084.6 days and thought "School...Bring it on!" DW made up a jaunty little song called, "She's going to school, she's going to school, she's finally going to school! Hoo-f*#@king-ray!!" while skipping.

So what was Day 1 of my new life like, I hear you ask? Well, more on that soon. Right now, I have a song in my head.


Thought for the Day: Before I got fit, I couldn't run 10 metres. Now I nearly can.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hi Ho!

That's not meant to sound rude. Just festive.

Ah, Christmas. It's different when you have kids. I remember being a kid and being desperate to see the presents on Christmas morning. I remember being sent back to bed on more than one occasion because, well, the sun wasn't up. In fact, I don't think it had finished going down. I can appreciate the excitement that Princess was feeling. DW and I do have an extra weapon to manage over-excited children that my parents didn't have. Santa!

Yep. We wield the jolly fat guy like a red and white, present giving sabre. Oh, we don't play the "Santa only gives presents to good children" card because Princess knows just as well as we do that she doesn't behave and she still gets presents. She always has and she always will. However, she is a pretty smart kid and aside from the falling for the whole Santa caper in the first place, she has a bit of reasoning about her that we duly exploit. For example, Santa won't visit if he knows you are awake. And he knows, so you can't fool him.

Funnily enough, Princess doesn't really trust Santa. Looking through her Christmas photos from Kinder, all the other kids are laughing and hugging Santa but Princess always stands away from him and doesn't even like passing him in the shopping mall. DW and I can't figure out why she doesn't like him as she hasn't had any "Bad Santa" experiences, though it is possible that she might have unwittingly seen an episode of Futurama that had an angry, judgemental Santa with an Uzi. She is also not so keen on the Easter Bunny, though I think more kids would be afraid if they knew the Easter bunny is really a Pooka (see a film called Harvey if you don't believe me).

I never believed in Santa growing up. I knew who Santa was supposed to be, but we were never told that he was real, only that he was a fictional character that supposedly took credit for the presents parents gave. Why parents would want there children to think their presents came from a strange obese man that broke into houses for a living, I'm not sure. My sister once told me that she and her husband had been particularly proud of the lavish presents they had bestowed on their children one year. When they smugly asked the kids if they were happy with the haul, the eldest replied in hurt tones that the presents were wonderful but no thanks to them, because they had forgotten to get the kids anything. Santa had done all the work.

DW and I discussed the merits of telling Princess and Little Man the truth about Santa but she was adamant that it would ruin Christmas for Princess if she knew. I'm not so sure. My own memories of Christmas were of presents and sugar hits galore, and family and holidays and fun and more sugar. I never experienced the disappointment of discovering Santa wasn't real. But DW does have a point. The Santa myth is something Princess still shares with her friends and that is part of her Christmas experience. Anyway, now she is at school, I'd be surprised if that bubble doesn't burst soon enough. Little Man doesn't really care as long as he gets presents and lots of sugar. Bring on Easter.


Thought for the (Christmas) Day: Pissled Tink

Monday, February 04, 2008


I don't know what that word means but I suspect its kobberish.

Ok, as promised I shall now continue to back date the update and jump ahead to a previous time. Christmas 2007. Yes, despite Princess' fears, it did actually arrive. As per usual, we had a few warm up events, namely my family gathering and DW's Mum's Group gathering. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have a large family and we now just hire a hall for our Christmas get together. We used to have a Kris Kringle for the adults but that has subsided over the last couple of years and we now just give presents to the kids.

Its interesting to see how much each of my nieces and nephews change each year. They seem to suddenly shoot up and become disturbingly tall and articulate. They can get their own food from the buffet and no longer need to be reminded about going to the toilet. Mind you, its still fun to remind the older ones just for the looks they give. Actually I've noticed that I still remind Princess automatically, even though she probably doesn't need it. She hasn't reached the "OhmyGodDadcouldyoubemoreembarassing?!?" stage of life so she doesn't really care.

As the years have gone by, Princess has become more and more scarce at these events. I don't mean she doesn't attend, rather, I don't have to watch her. As soon as we arrive she takes off to find an older and cooler cousin to hang out with. I barely get to see her until its time for food or presents and then the first thing I say is, "Have you been to the toilet?" I must try to stop that or she won't want me to pick her up from school any more.

Little Man on the other hand is also changing rapidly but although he can run around and play quite happily with cousins his own age, he decided he'd rather be carried around by Dad, crying and slobbering all over my shirt. He cried and slobbered on DW's shirt too, but it was my shirt I was worried about. Princess and Little Man are very different characters. Princess is very out going and even at a similar age to Little Man, she was off playing with the older kids. Little Man doesn't like to be too far from DW or me, and takes quite a while to warm up to the other kids. I suspect that next year, when he's three, he will want to play with the others more. Then perhaps DW and I can sit down and enjoy ourselves.

Hosting a Mum's Group BBQ is not for the faint-hearted, or the sensible. This group have been together for nearly six years, and with most of the mum's having not learnt from their first experience and gone ahead and had another kid, means there were a lot of small, dangerous people running about the house. And crawling. As it happens, this past Christmas DW and I were not faint-hearted or sensible and opened our home to the miniature version of a frat party. And by miniature, I don't mean to diminish the scale of the devastation, but rather to imply that the participants were shorter than your typical frat brother. There were kegs everywhere.

Actually, there were no kegs, but rather empty lolly bags and believe me, for a hyped up, 20kg engine, there is no "speed" like eating your own body weight in sugar. Unless of course you chase it with four bottles of fizzy, liquid sugar. It was like watching Gladiator in fastforward only more violent and much funnier. There were very few laughs in Gladiator. If you could have seen these kids go, and hummed the Benny Hill theme music, well... let's just say it was entertaining.

After they all left, and the fire brigade, police and the last ambulance, DW and I surveyed the damage. We decided against nuke'ing the site from space (apparently you need permission) and also, it kind of already looked like we had so we set about cleaning up. We eventually had to a point that was liveable, even if it does look like it had once been nuked from space. We've been told the radioactivity will eventually subside and the gentle green glow at night is kind of soothing. On the plus side, we think the kids may be developing super powers. Only time will tell. Still, this means it is someone else's turn this year. Any takers?


Thought for the Day: What's with the soft white walls, and roof and floor? And where's the door?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hello Stranger!

Yep, its me. I know, you hardly recognize me what with all the not posting and the beard. But don't you worry now. The beard goes on Sunday. Whoosh! Outta here! You see, I've just finished my holidays and I don't shave so very often on my holidays but now that I'm back at work - its back to once a week.

Also, I have set myself the lofty goal of posting at least twice a week. Actually, my aim is to post at least 100 times over the year so I will have to do some catch up to make up for January. But the good news is there is a ton of news. And some of the news itself is also good.

I noticed that my last post was in September last year. Quite a lot has happened as you can well imagine. For starters, I finished the first edit of my novel. It needed quite a lot of editing and it still does. But at least it's now in a fit state for others. So I passed it around a select few people. Obviously DW was the first to get a copy and she dragged herself all the way through several pages and even nodded several times. After asking me several times not to watch her while she read, I left her alone to "enjoy" the story. A few weeks later (it's not a comic) she finished and nodded several more times. Actually, she really enjoyed it and we chatted about what happens in the alluded to sequel. And despite my insecurities, I think she really did genuinely like it.

So the next person to read it was a friend who is also a writer. She also enjoyed it but had a few additional comments about structure, character arc, grammar and so on. It was very constructive feedback but all I can remember her saying is "It's great but its crap and here's why..." I suspect my mind is not remembering the event accurately. Anyway, that was before the first edit. At least the grammar and spelling have improved slightly.

More recently my sister, also a writer, reviewed the work. She had very positive feedback and also some very useful suggestions for improvements. She also went to the trouble of "marking" the first couple of chapters, to help me get ready for sending them off to a publisher/agent/whoever. Don't get me wrong, this was at my behest. She pulled those pages to pieces. Not a single sentence got away without comment. Well, maybe one or two. I'm just glad she didn't use red pen or it would have looked like the paper was actually bleeding. Still, that was only a first impression and actually reading the comments made far more sense than looking at the page as a whole. I guess its no worse than an editor would do, and perhaps a lot kinder. In fact, my sister may well make an excellent editor, should she ever wish to follow that path.

So now I have to incorporate some modifications into the second edit and start send those first few chapters out into the wild. I'll let you know how I go.

Now I know you are probably less interested in my novel and more interested in the goings on of Princess and Little Man, and possibly DW. Well, so much has happened that I will have to break it into parts. So tune in again next week for another Total Bern Out!


Thought for the Day: One down. 99 to go.