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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hammertime

My mate hard at work.
I'd say I was too but it's a little obvious what I'm doing at this point.

 I love my job.

I didn't realize how much I love my job until today. You know whose job I'd hate? Pretty much any tradie's.

Today I put in eleven hours on my balcony with a mate prepping it for re-staining tomorrow. Here are several ways in which prepping my balcony differs from my day job:
  • I got straight out of bed when my mate showed up and got straight to work. I didn't shave or anything.  In fact it was 3pm before I realized I was still in my pj's.
  • My mate showed up at 7am, so I started work nearly 2 hours early.
  • There was no airconditioning, meaning the temperature varied from a comfortable 26 degrees. What sort of fresh anarchy is this? It was very off-putting and earthy. As a result I think I sweated.
  • I hardly talked all day because there were no customers to banter with, and anyway the pressure cleaners were too loud to talk over.
  • When my legs got tired I couldn't pull up a chair.
  • I did the same monotonous thing over and over for hours on end, and when that ended I did some other monotonous thing over and over for hours on end.
  • Instead of eating something and then reading a book for half an hour, at lunch we ate and then got straight back to work. I'm now a chapter behind. This bugged me all afternoon.
  • After eight hours of work, I didn't stop, pack everything up and go home - I was home and kept working until the job was done.
  • I got wet. I may chaf.  
  • I didn't get paid (neither did my mate, so he probably has more to whinge about on this score)
  • There was no telly in the foyer for me to watch.
  • Coffee was almost entirely absent from my day, except for the two cups I had first thing this morning and the one my mum showed up with to spur me on. Almost a totally coffee free day!
  • I wasn't working with women - I like working with women because they rarely discuss sport, which bores me to tears, and often discuss their sex lives, which I find far more interesting.
  • Tracey let me play with my hammer.
As part of the preparation for tomorrow's fresh coats of stain, I re-nailed all the floorboards (by re-nailing I mean I hammered in any nails which were protruding, not removed existing nails and hammered in new ones - this might have been obvious to you, but I only speak banker so I'm unfamiliar with the correct tradie speak). This meant I needed my hammer, which Tracey has taken to hiding, along with my other tools, so I can't destroy our home.

Exhibit A. This is why I'm not allowed tools. Bottom hole is from when I incorrectly
measured (didn't measure) to hang a picture. Middle hole is second attempt. Top is final
attempt, which I got correct, and therefore has the screw triumphantly poking out.
 Incidently, the picture is hanging on the OTHER side of this wall.

"Tracey," I beamed at her as I entered the kitchen, "I need my hammer."

"Why?"

"I'm re-hammering the nails before we re-stain the boards."

"Do you have to?"

"I don't have to do any of this. I can sit on the lounge and watch Groundhog Day again if you like."

"Go outside and I'll get it. No peeking!"

The excitement of being reunited with my hammer quickly lost it's shininess when I started getting a blister - that's another thing I don't have to deal with as a banker (although I do endure the occasional paper cuts fyi they hurt).

At six tonight it was all done and ready. After a lovely Radox bath with my kindle I'm feeling relaxed and sore and dreading tomorrow. 

You women out there with tradie husbands - you aren't appreciative enough. Even if you think you are, you aren't. Their jobs suck. They deserve massages and beer and adoring looks. And Radox baths.

Weekends like this really make me appreciate my bank work. Time for a beer I think. If only I could walk to the fridge.

This is one side of our balcony. It's 100 sqm and nearly as big as
the house. And it's not the old big deck, small dick. Okay?!



Friday, March 30, 2012

Mother's little helper

An actual re-enactment of the event
Miss2 has been really enjoying having a little sister to annoy her mother with.

Whenever anything resembling the slight cry or grunt issues from Miss0's mouth, Miss2 will run up to Tracey yelling "BABY!" and demand Tracey accompanies her back to the cot to deal with the noise. Then she'll leave Tracey and Miss0 alone to work things out and she'll race off to another room to pull everything out of the wardrobes and draws.

As with her older siblings at this age, we bought Miss0 a baby doll so she could imitate Tracey when she feeds and looks after Miss0. Things like when Tracey changes a nappy, Miss2 cleans her dolls bum with the nappy wipes.

Miss2 sleeps with her baby doll and has baths with her baby doll. She loves it. She even attempts to breast feed her baby doll.

But sometimes she forgets which is her toy and which is her Mum's.

At home with our two youngest today, Tracey had Miss0 resting in the bouncinette in the lounge room while she worked her magic in the kitchen.

She hadn't been out of the room five minutes when she heard Miss2 walk up behind her saying, "Mum. Mum. Mum! Mummy! Mum!! MUM!" with increasing distress.

Turning around she found baffled looking Miss0 trussed roughly in Miss2's arms. Miss2's face bore a look of, 'well I've brought her this far, now what the hell do I do with her.'

Tracey quickly bent down and saved Miss0 from being strangled and, her work done, Miss2 ran off to empty some draws.






Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Master7

Holy flapping duckwings, Batman, we were woken up early this morning. The birthday boy and Miss8 came screaming into our bedroom this morning at something like 5am (it may have been 6am, but it FELT like 5am).

I asked if Miss4 was awake yet.

"Not yet!" said Master7.

I rolled over. "Well jump back into bed until she's awake."

They left and I snuggled into my pillow and began willing myself back to sleep.

"She's awake!" Master7 yelled into my ear two minutes later. He'd also dragged Miss2 in with him for good measure. "Time to sing at me and then give me presents! Come on! I'll help you. 'Happy Birthday to MEEEE.....'"

Giving in to the inevitable, we pulled out his bag of presents and watched as he squealed his way to the bottom of the bag.

"Awesome!!" he screamed when he pulled out the Skylander stuff.

 "Yeeeeahhhh!" he yelled when the Pokemon stuff emerged.

"Wow!" he exclaimed, pulling out a couple of books.

"That's nice," he said when he got to a pair of jeans.

"Alright!!" he yelled, his enthusiasm back to fever pitch when he saw there was a Spiro shirt to go with the jeans.

He took a couple of dozen cupcakes to school today to share with his class and tonight we ate a bucket of The Colonel's finest (which came in a box! When did that change?) and then played a couple of hours of Skylander battles on the Wii before collapsing into bed. It was as good a midweek birthday could be.

I think the Skylanders game is going to be a hit for a long time here in Devereauxville. For a start, I'm hopeless at it, and anything Master7 can thrash dad in is a hit. As Master7's words of encouragement to me as I tucked him into bed show:

"You really suck at it, Dad!" he grinned.

Happy birthday, my little man. X x x. You are a shite !!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We have a p.r.o.b.l.e.m.

We're in trouble. Master6's reading and spelling skills are costing us money.

His reading earned me a scowl from his mother tonight.

Master6 was looking over my shoulder tonight reading my blog. Which would be fine, except he started reading the one on Skylanders (Thank you! It's just what my father wanted!), which has a little bit in it (all of it) about his birthday present tomorrow. Fortunately for us (me) he didn't get far before we realized.

The giveaway was when he said with a cheeky grin, "Hey, why is mum worried about Skylanders?"

Another couple of paragraphs and Tracey probably would have throttled me.

His spelling has been a problem for much longer.

Since time immeasurable (8 years ago) we've been spelling things over the kids' heads. But that's all changed now.

I remember the good days when we could communicate by spelling out loud the names of the things we were considering: well, things of three and four letters anyway. I've always struggled with longer words - mainly cause I lose interest and disappear back into my own thoughts. Tracey will be like, "We should take the kids to M. C. D. O....."

And in my head I'll be, "M. C. That's Mc. Mc-something is where we're going here. D. O. Do. What was the first letter? Bugger I've lost it. I always do this. We should bring a pencil and paper. I haven't read the paper today."

Meanwhile, Tracey will be still be, "N.A.L.....you're not listening to me!"

And suddenly I'm caught in the headlights of her wrath and it doesn't look like she's going to even try to swerve to avoid hitting me. Then, from the back seat, my little saviour will step in.

"Mum thinks we should go to McDonald's, Dad." Master6 will explain helpfully.

"McDonalds!! Yay!!!" the girls will scream. 

And so we'd go to McDonalds, cause once that cat's out of the bag there's no getting it back in. And all because I can't spell but my youngest son can.





Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We all know Uno

A family night tonight - we pulled out the Uno cards and sat around the coffee table. It was a heap of fun, but unfortunately Miss4 wasn't quite up to speed with the whole concept.

Or maybe she was. She went from five cards in her hand to two by the time the first turn came around to her go.

"Where are your other cards?" I asked her.

Eventually we found them under her bum. After fruitless attempts to get them back into her hand we gave up. Life's too short and bedtime was one win away.

Miss4 placed her second last card on the pile, a Wild card, giving her the chance to change the colour.

"Yellow," she said. It's her favourite colour in all the world.

Looking over her shoulder, Tracey said, "You don't have any yellow cards, sweetie. You only have a red card. You need to choose red."

"I want yellow."

"But you have red."

"Yellow!"

"But you don't have yellow, sweetie."

"I WANT YELLOW!!" she screamed. So we played on with yellow.

Needless to say, she didn't win.

Miss8 did. After they'd gone to bed we found two of her cards under the coffee table. I think we need go over the rules again.






Monday, March 26, 2012

Thank you! It's just what my father wanted!

Tracey is definitely worried.

If there's one thing my wife doesn't want it's me getting as excited about a new fad as one of the kids.

Master6 is about to grow into Master7 and he is mega excited and telling everyone he's going to be given the Skylanders game.

"How do you know you're going to get Skylanders? You might not," Tracey admonished him. She likes there to be a surprise on their birthdays. In the past I've suggested we give them the 'that's not what I wanted' kind of surprise, but she won't have a bar of it. Like giving Miss4 a Skylander figurine for her birthday next Tuesday instead of Strawberry Shortcake - that would be a surprise.

Master6's Skylander-for-birthday campaign has been well run. The polls are in and he knows he's got it won.

"Yes I will," he told her. "Cause I really want it and you always get me what I want." He's all over it. Of course, he's in for a rude shock if he ever develops a penchant for motor bikes or pet rodents.

"All he's been talking about is Skylanders!" I complained to Tracey yesterday.

"He's no worse than you," my wife told me.

She's right, of course. I am totally hooked on those little Skylander models. I don't even want to play the game, I just want to collect the figurines so Master6 can have lots of different characters. You know, if I had to pay money for new characters in the game I wouldn't do it, but because I get a little toy I am suddenly all for it. They are a marketing stroke of genius.

This isn't good. At $15 a pop we're staring down the barrel of baked bean dinners and instant coffee unless I can beat this.

Meanwhile I've contacted all the grandparents and subtly suggested a different Skylander's figurine to each.

Only three days until I see how well I've done. I mean how well Master6 has done.

Maybe Tracey's right to be worried.






Sunday, March 25, 2012

The importance of background checks

Tracey took advantage of a rare glimpse of sunlight to take photos of a couple of the kids.

"Can you come out and spot for me?" she asked me.

"Not right now, Tracey. You do realize I was sleeping?" I mentioned. "You'll be right. It's only our kids and they know what they're doing." What could possibly go wrong?

Later that night when Tracey began going through the photos we found out. Funny as it is, I don't think I'll be allowed to roll over and go back to my nap next time.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Go To Bed

The recent reshuffle of beds and cots has left us a little short of beds here in Devereauxville. With Tracey not having worked for four months, and all the kids' piggy banks empty bar buttons, we turned to our good friends at St Vincent De Paul.

I've been opp-shopping since my late teens. I remember on the back of a hot tip making a road trip up to Toowoomba with a mate looking for trenchcoats when I was 19. We didn't find any, but we picked up some other great stuff including a novelty tea pot for my mate's novelty tea pot collection (yes, you read that correctly) and some cherry Doc Martin boots for me. I've been a big fan ever since.

So when we needed to replace Miss17's bunk and find a bed for Miss2's mattress, Tracey headed over to see what was on offer at the local St Vinnies.

We didn't need mattresses - we insist on new ones for our lovelies. 

One of the best things about buying from Vinnies in G-town is they deliver for free. Not only deliver, it turns out, but in the case of these beds they assemble them as well. And slot them right into the bedrooms where we want them.

Initially Tracey was looking at two spring frames for $60 but after a quick discussion over the phone we decided to spend an extra $40 and buy slat beds. Plus we're putting money in the coffers of a worthy institution. 

But the best thing was the beds matched our existing ones! 

So for a total of $100 ($50 a bed) delivered, we solved our sleep problems. 

Well, one of them. Keeping Miss2 in her bed at night is a whole other issue.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lead The Way

It takes a better person to admit they're wrong and change their opinion, right?

That's the way I'm going anyway.

Tracey and I have always been dead against those dog leads for kids (you know the ones disguised as backpacks) because we felt embarrassed for the little kids forced to wear them, and thought they looked demeaning.

Well not anymore.

Miss2 has set herself apart from her five older siblings by hitting the terrible two's while still two, instead of waiting until she was three like the rest of them. Unfortunately, (and this isn't a medical diagnosis, merely our observations) this has meant her brain is a full year less developed and she's full of dumb.

At school with Tracey on Monday, picking up Master6, Miss8 and Miss4, Miss2 refused to stay with Tracey and made a game of racing off. As Tracey was cradling Miss0 at the time, and it was wet, this became a little difficult to choreograph.

Ultimately, while chasing after Miss2 Tracey slipped on wet ground and nearly took her and Miss0 on a trip. 

So now Miss2 has her own dog lead. We're not the best pet owners in the world but we're hoping to teach her tricks like heal and sit and stay.

Time to revisit some Supernanny episodes I think. And if that doesn't work I guess we'll watch the Dog Whisperer.





Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dumbbells

We struggle some mornings to deliver all our kids to their respective destinations. Especially Mondays where we have Tafe, primary school, prep and daycare, and that's before we look at work. Sometimes in the melee things get left behind - homework, lunches, kids.

We've driven kids to school in their PJ's. Once is usually enough.

I'm assured, however, this isn't a problem confined to our household.

Take my friend, Jelly, for example. Because it isn't hard enough for a working mum to fit exercise into her day, my friend's kids decided they wanted to join her at gym this morning. This meant the usual morning chaos to get the kids moving and everyone out of the house and to their respective schools on time was brought forward an hour.

Deciding if they were all going into town anyway they may as well not return home before starting work and school she bellowed at her kids to grab their uniforms. This would claw back fifteen minutes of her morning, giving her time for a nice relaxing cup of coffee before work.

"Have you got a shirt and shorts?" she asked her son, Master14, in the car, because experience has taught her if somethings going to go wrong it's going to go wrong with him. "Your socks? Shoes? Hat and homework? Schoolbag and lunch?" Had she missed anything ? "Are you wearing undies?"

All responses in the affirmative, they headed to gym.

It was only after gym she realized her mistake: poor instructions. What she should have said, she saw with the benefit of hindsight, was grab yourself a uniform from your wardrobe.

Instead, what Master14 did was to open up the washing machine and take out the clean but still wet set of clothes he'd worn the day before.

Despite this, my friend was determined to avoid returning home, the end result being she stood, bonnet up next to the school, dangling her son's wet clothes over the running engine of her car in an attempt to dry them.

Needless to say she didn't quite make it to that relaxing cup of coffee before work, but I'm betting she could have done with it.




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Let Them Shine


Sorting through her daughter’s school bag, a work colleague discovered her Miss5 had an assignment due the next day.

An assignment for a five year old? Only assignment I had when I was five was to stay out of the house until sundown. It was hard too, because all the best cartoons were on straight after school. 

My workmate's first thought was to write a scathing note to the teacher demanding more time to complete the work. I mean, one night! Then it occurred to my colleague the teacher probably didn’t set a complex assignment, involving cutting out pictures from magazines, doing some drawings and an oral presentation in front of the class, all with only one night to get it done. Presumably they’d had all week to work through this. She decided against the note and focused on the task at hand.

Putting aside the TV remote and ignoring the washing, my workmate sat down with her Miss5 and read the topic.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This'll be good, she thought. Astronaut, policeman, Prime Minister, civil rights lawyer, obscenely rich? 

“A shoe shine man,” came the answer. Even setting aside the gender issue, this still gave her pause for thought.

Now there were many ways a parent could go with this. Given the socio-economic band shoe shine men typically inhabit, some responses might have been to argue the child into changing their mind to something more brag worthy with the other mums and dads –  a wild life photographer, for example. 

Of course, growing up I had a mate who’s son was hell bent on becoming a marine biologist. The kid is 21 now, spends all day playing computer games and the closest he comes to water is his daily shower.  My point is it may not work. Probably won't work. But you just might feel the urge to try anyway.

Personally, the way I’d have dealt with this assignment would be to run with the shoe shine man idea and get the damn thing done as quick as possible so I could turn on My Kitchen Rules before they kicked off another contestant. But my workmate had different ideas.

“That’s a great idea, Sweetie,” said my workmate. “Some very famous people have started out shining shoes.” This was a great idea, I thought. Pre-position the idea that it’s only somewhere to start, not a career. “James Brown started out as a shoe shiner. Do you know what a shoe shine man does?”

“They make shoes shiny.”

“Yes they do. And have you had any experience shining shoes?” she asked her daughter.

“No.”

“Well let’s get you started.” And so saying she pulled out the nugget, a brush and four pairs of daddy’s boots.

Three shoes in, her Miss5 didn’t want to be a shoe shine man anymore, which means she's going to make for an outstanding oral presentation amongst all her classmates, who are presumably aiming for esteemed careers as dog walkers, ice-cream scooperers and the people who colour in the drawings. 

After much tossing around of ideas, my workmate's little Miss5 has now decided she wants to be a doctor when she grows up, although apparently she hasn't decided on a specialty yet. As my work colleague explained to us over coffee, "I mean, she's only five."




Monday, March 19, 2012

Be Cuss I Can

Because it annoys my good wife, but mainly because I'm Aussie white-trash and I think it's funny, I was teaching my kids a new song tonight which basically just involved saying the words, "Poo, bum, pee, wee," over and over in any sort of melody which took my fancy.

Naturally, because they're toilet words, my kids thought this was hilarious. I mean, seriously, step aside High Five, there's a new act on the block.

After five minutes of this my kids were in uncontrollable hysterics and I was in a lot of trouble with Tracey, so we wrapped it up.

Then Miss8 approached me.

"I know a naughty word," she told me. "It's a boy at school's favourite word. It starts with F."

Now I was pretty sure I knew where she was going with this, so I asked, "Does is rhyme with truck?"

"No."

I was so convinced I knew where it was going that I was a little confused at this point. And curious. "What is it then?"

She lent in close, cupped her hand around my ear and whispered, "Fuck you."

Out white-trashed by my own little girl. If you need me I'll be in my trailer looking for the soap.


Indoor Air Show


I only know one trick when it comes to origami and tonight I taught it to the kids. An hour (and half a ream of paper) later our lounge, dining and bed rooms resembled a miniature Heathrow Airport with all planes grounded. This analogy only works if you imagine all the planes made out of paper.

There were paper planes everywhere.

Which was fine with me because I was playing Pop Star on my iPhone.

It didn't last.

Me & my ticket.
"Dad, here's your ticket," said Master6.

"What? Hey. Thanks."

"Dad, you haven't taken it off me yet."

"What? Hey. Thanks."

"Dad!"

Seems Tracey and I were invited to an airshow in their bedroom. Miss8, Master6 and Miss4 had set up tests of skill and daring, each involving tossing their planes as hard and fast as they could and, as it turns out, trying to hit cushions, the ceiling, books and, it ultimately transpired, the head of their long suffering father.






Saturday, March 17, 2012

Her own choices

How proud am I right now?

All week Miss17 has begged to go to a party this weekend. That in itself is pretty good. She's 17, finished school, working, studying at Tafe (which she's paying for herself) and she's still asking our permission.

When I was 17 I'd tell my parents where I was going and that was the end of that conversation.

We basically decided late last year to let her make her own calls from now on, with us throwing in questions and an opinion when we deem it necessary. It's hard cutting those apron strings, but it needs to be done eventually. And subtly. For us this means when we decide they can take control of their social life we simply don't tell them - they ask, we pretend to think about it and then say yes. By the time they realize they've been running their own show they've usually got a handle on it.

As Miss17 proved tonight.

We dropped her and her boyfriend at the birthday party late this afternoon - it was slightly out of town on acreage. A group of young people (birthday boy was 20) were all sleeping over and having a bonfire and we were to pick them up tomorrow. It was a big deal.

Two hours later I got a message on Facebook - 'Dad, are you on FB? Can't talk but can you call me and make up some excuse and tell me I've got to come home?'

Twenty minutes later we had the two of them in our car and got our explanation.

"There were drugs," she said.

Sometimes I question if we're doing it right. Sometimes life answers me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Don't let old age drive you round the bend

Some people greet their golden years with arms wide open, ready to embrace their well earned rights to make inappropriate comments at family functions and hold up bank queues for lengthy chats.

These are my sort of people.

I was chatting with a dear lady I've known for many years today. Living alone on her cattle property, she's a fiercely independent woman.

She's eighty, but with the body and come hither looks of a woman a third of her age. For years she's been regaling me with stories of how she flirts with the men working in the neighbouring state forest, inviting them over for cups of tea so she can have a purve.

Oh, yeah, she works it.

She's finding it a bit tough lately though because her mind is slipping with age, but so far she's managed to keep a grip on her sense of humour.

"They're taking my licence away from me," she complained to me today when I bumped into her. "I don't understand it. I'm dreadful in the car - I keep bumping into things and getting lost - but you should see me slashing the paddocks with the tractor! Beautiful straight lines. I really don't understand it."

"Well the thing with roads is they're full of corners," I explained to her.

"That must be it," she agreed. Just then her forty year old son raced past on a mission, not even glancing our way despite passing less than four feet from us. "I've got three more idiots just like him," she said as he disappeared from view. Then she started digging into her handbag. "The councils gone and sent my rates notice to the wrong address. I was just over there trying to sort it out." She pulled out her phone bill. "This isn't my rates notice," she frowned. "Maybe I haven't done that yet."

"Mum!" her son snapped as he approached us again. "I've been looking for you everywhere. You were going to wait for me at the Telstra shop."

"Was I? Are you sure? Oh dear, I've done it again," she told me, chuckling. "I'll worry about the rates notice some other time, I think. I better go straight home." She gave me a cheeky wink. "Shouldn't be a problem if I just avoid the corners."




We help a group of people in the Congo grow their businesses

Our 26th KIVA loan is to a group of people in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here's what the application said about one of the applicants in this group - a woman called Bijoux.

Bijoux sells sacks of cement and beverages in detail. She has been in business since 1983. She has a solid experience in her business and it has prospered thanks to good management and accumulated profits. She is a loyal client of IMF HOPE RDC who has already received fourteen different loans and has repaid them correctly. She intends with the next loan to increase the inventory of her business by purchasing more sacks of cement and beverages to resell in order to generate additional profits. Currently, she earns a profit of US $150 every week. 

Bijoux is 47 years old, a widow and the mother of six children between 16 and 31 years old. Two of them go to school. Her dream is to become a wholesaler.

Link to KIVA

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We help a farmer in Tajikistan buy seeds & fertilizer


Our 25th KIVA loan is reaching out to a bloke in Tajikistan so he can expand his farming business. He's requested $1000 which he'll repay over 9 months. Sharofidin caught my attention as I trawled through the prospective borrowers, but it was when I noticed my lovely cousin, Jenni, had decided to lend him money that he won our support.

Here's what Sharofidin's application had to say:

"Sharofidin is a kind and honest man. He is married and is a responsible father of three children. He has been growing onions, melons and cereals for more than seven years. His wife is a homemaker. Sharofidin wants to expand his business so that he can get a good profit. He is asking for a loan with the purpose to buy seeds, mineral fertilizer and film. He hopes for your help and kindness."

There is a brief window of opportunity to test drive the KIVA experience at the moment using someone else's (his name is Reid Hoffman) money. KIVA will let you choose someone to help by putting $25 towards their loan - but it's KIVA's money, not yours (meaning the repayments of this one loan go back to Reid). It's a great opportunity to take KIVA for a test run to see if it's for you. 


KIVA Website Link



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sisterhood of the Traveling Maternity Clothes

One or the other of our friends (or us) always seems to be pregnant. We all just fall into that age bracket. Buying clothes to wear once your belly pops and your boobs start seriously testing the underwire can be expensive. You want to look nice, but you don't want to blow the budget on maternity clothes when there's so much other nice stuff you could be buying, like prams, onesies and beer.

After the birth of Miss8 my wife was mad keen to discard the 'fat' clothes and don something different - after all, by this point she'd probably worn the same four outfits over and over for a couple of months.

However, by the time our next baby came Tracey and her friends had an awesome system in place whereby they had a bag of nice maternity clothes which would be passed on to whoever was due next. Everyone would add one or two new items to the bag, which kept it fresh and exciting, and suddenly being eight months pregnant with a wedding to attend wasn't a huge drama.

Of course, this doesn't help you with the task of dragging your drunken husband home because he's taken advantage of the wedding's open bar and having you as a designated driver, but one problem at a time, if you please.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Brushing up on fun



We picked up a $1 paint set from a shit-shop and it has kept the kids amused for days. Over the years we've bought toys worth hundreds of dollars which haven't kept their genuine interest for longer than a few hours.

All the younger kids have been involved, from Miss8 down to Miss2, and our house is now adorned with several artworks, all framed in old photo frames from under a bed, and there's requests to get the brushes out again soon.


Monday, March 12, 2012

KIVA - FREE TRIAL (limited trials, so be quick)

Here's an opportunity to try out the KIVA way of helping people without laying down a cent of your own money.

KIVA is about giving people a hand, not a hand out. 

KIVA is an organisation which seeks to help less fortunate people by lending them money so they can improve their businesses and situations. It helps people by giving them an opportunity to buy stock, or seeds, or sewing machines, or bike taxis, or material, or tools, or cattle, or pigs, or building materials. 

We've helped people in 16 countries, from Uganda to Honduras, from Mongolia to Ukraine, from Peru to the Philippines.

And it feels great to help, I assure you.

KIVA is involved in microfinance, giving many people an opportunity to access a loan where, due to the small amounts of money they're looking for, they wouldn't necessarily be granted one by the conventional banking system.

With KIVA, you don't donate money and hope it gets to where you wanted it to go. YOU choose who you lend it to. And when it's repaid, you can lend it out again. We've put just under $200 into our KIVA account and we've made 24 x $25 loans over a couple of years. That's $600 worth of help we've given with the same $200.

So if you think this sounds like the sort of thing you might like to be involved in, click on the link below and check it out.


It really is a wonderful experience to help these people so directly. 

Our Spoonful of Sugar


Bit of a dead giveaway you haven't been doing much exercise lately when you can't remember how to turn on your treadmill, Tracey Devereaux.

But what's a little noteworthy is where you've found your inspiration.

It's odd how fine the line can be between avoiding something at all costs and actually wanting to do it. Mary Poppins was right - "In every job that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and - snap - the job's a game."

I discovered this recently when I bought myself a set of wireless headphones. Essentially these were so I could hear the Youtube videos and movies I was watching while I cooked in the kitchen over the wall of noise that is my children. My kids are loud. Mostly my brain can shut them out but my ears have difficulty filtering the commentary of a program through the general din while someone's saying, "Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad! Dad! DAD!"

On advice from a friend I sought out and paid a little more for headphones with a greater range (incidentally, this meant I lost a weekend while I created a file with my top favourite 700 tracks). It was an awesome decision.

I'm the kind of mad keen gardener who every summer attempts to grow grass trees in the yard. I would do a happy dance if I woke up to rain cause as every mad keen gardener of ill repute knows, you can't cut grass when it's wet. Or too sunny. Or too windy. Or too nice a day to waste cutting grass.

Tracey pretty much had to cry at me before I'd touch the mower. And, tears or no, if I was mowing there had better have been a sixpack in the fridge and an episode of Top Gear on the telly when I'd finished.

Not any more.

Now I jump out of bed every Saturday morning, start the computer up and head out the door with my headphones on pulled over my ears.

You know how I bought the headphones so I couldn't hear the kids? Well they're even less audible when the mowers going as well :D

Best. Buy. Ever.

Having used these headphones for a couple of months now, Tracey finally cottoned on to how great it must be to hear something other than demands and complaints and so she went looking for an excuse to borrow them.

Which brings us back to the treadmill.

This was the treadmill we had to have, by the way. It's a thing of great beauty and is worth more than three of the cars I've owned, including the Red Rocket parked under the house right this minute.

When Tracey decided we needed the treadmill I complained we'd never use it and boy was I proven wrong. For the first month.

Anyway, now Tracey has discovered the cordless headphones, and how to turn the treadmill on, I'm sure there will be a lot more exercise on the horizon.

That, and little kids yelling, "Mum. Mum. Mum. Mum! Mum! MUM!"




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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Unscripted

I hate the way my kids stray from the script. Especially in front of guests.

When we're in company, my kids rarely say what I expect them to say. Scratch that. My kids NEVER say what I expect them to say. I get yes's when I want no's and no way's when I want okay's. It's why I drink.

But it seems we're not alone.

A 100 year celebration of a local high school has resulted in friends from Brisbane staying with us for the weekend. Their gorgeous little Miss4 is currently an only child and has been enjoying racing about with our crew all day, giving our jumping castle and trampoline a real workout.

Tanya was telling us a little story from about a month ago when she was explaining to her Miss4 their little family was about to get a bit bigger. In her head she had a lovely little scene playing out. All Miss4 had to do was respond appropriately to a couple of simple questions.

"Mummy's got a little baby in her belly," Tanya gushed as they climbed into the car after a revealing scan. "Can you guess what we're having?"

Her Miss4 thought for a moment. "A puppy?"

"No, it's not a puppy. I wouldn't be having a puppy, would I? What sort of baby would mummy have in her belly?"

Further thought ensued. "A pig," she suggested confidently.

"No, it wouldn't be a pig in my belly, would it?" Tanya felt the conversation was fast slipping from her grasp. And they hadn't even got to the cool bit where they cooed and ahhed and talked about how exciting it is and had the 'big sister' talk.

"No," agreed Miss4. Suddenly she realized where she'd gone wrong. "A baby piggy?"

Then she seemed to tire of the whole topic. And just to underscore how far from Tanya's imagined chat they were wandering, and that this topic was closed, she added hopefully, "Did you bring me any food?"

Before Tanya and Chris and their little Miss4 arrived we had an extensive pep talk with our grommets about behaving themselves and not making us all look feral.

"How do we do that?" asked Master6.

For an uncomfortable few seconds I realized I hadn't thought that far ahead.

"Just do the opposite of whatever you normally would," I suggested.

And it was all going very well until tonight when a bowl of bacon & cheese balls was put out for all the kids to snack on.

"These are for you all to share," said Tanya, placing the bowl on the table in front of her daughter and Master6. "We'll put them in the middle." Initially I was concerned Master6 was going to reveal our true colours and dive into the cheese balls with both hands, like he usually does, but much to my surprise he restrained himself beautifully.

No, it was Miss4 who blew our cover when she tore around the corner a few seconds later screaming all the way at the top of her lungs, "They're MINE!" and throwing herself into pole position between the other two.

Time for a beer.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jean Genie

The Jean Genie has granted us a wish today.

A call from Tracey's sister had us clued up on a jean sale at Jeans West. Tracey picked up six pairs of jeans (3 pair for each of us) worth a combined $550 at regular retail for only $110. 

In Beerenomics that's 10 cartons of beer! 

Mine were all $20 each, as were two of Tracey's. The third of hers was only $10.

With colder weather only a couple of months away I think we'll get a lot of use out of these shortly.

While I'm on the subject of jeans, can anyone tell me why we say a pair of jeans when they're clearly in one piece? 

Sale is 50% off already reduced sale jeans - savings up to $80 up for grabs. Plus they also have $20 off new season styles this week.

And with this $440 saving (on top of the fantastic Best & Less sale today where we saved $360) we've saved enough for nearly 20 cartons of beer. Not that I'd want to spend it all on me - maybe Tracey can buy herself a nice latte or something ;) 

Even though I'll be lucky to see one whole carton our of this, I think it's going to be a great weekend. Might have to spend some of that money on Panadol though.

If you're a jean wearing sort of guy or gal it's time to "let yourself go" to Jeans West to quickly snap up a bargain.




Less is Best


This isn't even everything!
Best & Less are having the kind of sale which makes other sales look half hearted.

I walked past the local Best & Less store front today and spotted a sale sign in the window so I phoned Tracey and suggested she drop in.

"We're a bit tight this week," Tracey said. "I think we'll have to miss it."

"Are you sure?" I pressed. "It's not 50% off sale. It's 50% off the already discounted prices. You might pick up one or two things. I was just chatting to someone who picked up a $15 swim set for her daughter for $2.50."

She was there within twenty minutes. A further twenty minutes, Tracey had so many 'one or two things' in her arms she had to dump them at the counter so she could keep shopping.

Ultimately she spent $125, picking up $485 of clothes, most of which we'll put aside for the kids' growth spurts next year. We keep boxes of clothes we've bought at sales up high in the cupboards so when the kids grow we have their new wardrobes all ready.

I don't feel like I've really emphasized how amazing this sale is so let me put it in the clearest way I know how - we've just saved enought money for 8 cartons of beer!

Now apparently this sale is good until Saturday so get to it people. Cheers.

Me with my happy 'gonna get some beer' face on.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Scratch That!

I've never owned a car which would feel out of place at a scratch and dent sale, but aside from the odd fence, gutter or pole, it isn't all my fault: public car parks share the blame.

Last Sunday we took the kids and a couple of their grandparents to the park, the local markets and then McDonalds. It was a great way to spend the morning but it wasn't without incident.

After walking around the markets buying vegetables and getting pleasantly rained on, the kids and I arrived back at the car ready to drive to McDonalds for breakfast (Sausage McMuffins were going out the door for $1 each - we bought 12 - great special).

Walking up to our car I saw a woman pull into the park beside ours. As I arrived at the gap between the cars she opened the door and .... it hit our car. 

I had a moment where I contemplated which way to go with this: righteous indignation or silent disbelief perhaps? I mean, this was a golden opportunity. How often do you actually catch the person taking half inch chunks out of your car's duco?

Well my brother has. He had an incident many years ago with a bloke who bashed a car door into my brother's old but well cared for Toyota Corolla while Shane was still in it.

"Hey!" said Shane. "Careful!"

"Get over it, mate," the bloke yelled back over his shoulder as he raced into the newsagency. "It's only a car."

So Shane got out of his Corolla, took his car door in both hands and slammed it into the bloke's car. Then, as the guy ran out of the shop, Shane drove off waving at the bloke and reminding him, "It's okay, mate, it's only a car."

All this ran through my head while I weighed up my options. 

Then I looked at her car - it looked brand new. Then I looked at our car - it was a dump on wheels.

I put a smile on my dial. "Not a lot of room there," I called out to her and waited. 

She looked up at me and agreed, but continued to try squeeze herself out of her car. 

Continuing to stand on the footpath I took my keys out of my pocket.and tossed them in my hand, just so she knew it was my car and I was about to get in and drive away.

Her car door remaned pressed against mine. She didn't seem to mind at all that as she jiggled and pushed, her door was bobbing and rubbing up against my car's paint.

And then, just as she was about the burst free of her car, she suddenly froze. Briefly our eyes met. Moments later she'd slipped back into her seat, slammed her door, started the engine and, in a series of short maneuvers, reparked her car a more generous distance from ours: a distance which didn't allow for her door to touch ours at all even when fully opened.

I briefly wondered why she'd suddenly changed her mind about damaging my car. And then I realized five of my seven children had appeared behind me.

She wasn't repenting: she'd just realized my kids could do much more damage to her nice new car than she was doing to mine.










Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ta-Daa



Master20 popped home for a flying visit last night. Always exciting when the big man drops in for hugs and this was no exception, with the grannies coming from all over town to say hi.

He's moved house and got a new job and started uni for the year - so there was heaps to talk about.

Whole conversation was briefly railroaded by Miss4 though when she told us a little story from prep.

"A boy was laughing at me yesterday," Miss4 announced at dinner. She didn't look happy about it.

No parent likes to hear this. Your first thought is always to bay for blood. Telling the commando inside of me to stand down until I had all the facts I asked my young daughter why this boy was laughing at her.

"Well,' she began, and stood up. This was to be an animated explanation. "They read my name out on parade on a piece of paper and then I stood up and called out my name to them," she showed us how, even demonstrating exactly how she was standing and how loudly she called out. The details surrounding why her name was on a piece of paper and why she had to call her name back are still a bit hazy, "I went up the steps, like this, and THEN MY SKIRT FELL OFF," she finished, indicating that it had fallen all the way to her ankles.

"In front of everyone?" I asked, torn between being horrified and laughing.

"Yes," Miss4 assured me.

"And then what happened?"

"And then I went Ta-daa!" As you do.

I think I'll be letting the boy from school off the hook for laughing cause we're still chuckling about it ourselves.

Having your pants fall to your ankles in front of a crowd isn't without precedent in the Devereaux household. My father lost his pants in the church at our wedding. It's clearly genetic. Belts are popular with this family.

Master20 headed back to Brisbane this morning on the train and we're already missing the big fella and looking forward to his next visit.

Master20 towers over the girls.
Nearly as tall as his grandparents on his knees.






Friday, March 2, 2012

Jealous? Not.

When Miss0 came along we thought there might be a little jealousy from Miss2 but there has been nothing. She seems to love touching, kissing, holding and bitch-slapping her baby sister. Nothing to worry about there.

But it seems while we were keeping an eye on Miss0, Miss4's been feeling the pinch of having a new baby in the house.

The giveaway? She put a nappy on today and raced around the house impersonating a baby, demanding her mother's attention.

Tracey said it was super cute and Miss4 quite rightly thought she was being hilarious.

Master20 is popping home tomorrow night to catch up with us all. He missed me. Naturally. And we've been so busy with the new little baby, misbehaving cars and the usual school run hassles we haven't been chatting to him anywhere near enough. It'll be great to see him.

Of course unlike Miss4 if HE snaps on a nappy and starts crawling around the house, cute is off the table.




Thursday, March 1, 2012

Boxes of Fruit

What a fantastic day for fruit!

If you want to keep your fruit bowl full try looking outside the supermarket. We buy from a mate who goes to the fruit markets at Rocklea in Brisbane, so we always have fresh fruit and we always save money. If you don't know someone who goes to the market, pull your local green grocer aside and get talking.

Today we picked up 33 kilo of fruit from The Marketman for only $30 - a 20kg box of apples for $20 and a 13kg box of bananas for $13. The bananas are a few days off being ready, but the apples are crunchy and sweet.

I'm not sure what the supermarkets are charging this week for fruit but last week we paid $2.98 a kilo for apples and bananas were certainly more than a dollar a kilo.

Obviously at the moment there must be a glut of fruit out there and us Devereaux's are happy to do our bit to help our farmers.

Anyway 33kg of fruit will keep the kids running to the loo for the next week :)




COUNTRY UPDATE magazine

The lovely Denise Torenbeck produces this quality mag locally each quarter and I'm shamelessly plugging it on our blog because, to be frank, she deserves it.

Issue 64 has a stellar line up with write ups and interviews with Troy Cassar-Daley, John Williamson, Lionel Richie, Tim & Faith, Dan Murphy and a whole heap of others - including, I might add, Tracy Lawrence.

Tracy Lawrence is especially poignant for me because, barring one 'e', he shares my wife's full maiden name. ie Tracey Lawrence vs Tracy Lawrence.

As you can imagine, this created no end of confusion for my wife in her late teens, as it no doubt did for the big Texan.

Fortunately for everyone involved, after a touching ceremony eleven years ago, my wife became Tracey Devereaux. This freed the singer up to get about his business singing and I'm sure not being mistaken for a girl from Gympie was a weight off his shoulders.

Unfortunately, a Google search subsequently revealed my wife's new name was also that of an American stripper. On hearing this, Tracey was a mite horrified - she actually liked Tracy Lawrence's music and owned two CD's. It was unlikely she was going to feel the same connection with the 'dancer'. But I told her either way it's entertainment.

My tastes only dabble in country music (a bit of Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Shania Twain) yet I still enjoy reading Country Update. If country floats your boat I can't see why you wouldn't want to take a look inside this magazine, so duck on over to Denise's website and see what it's all about - Country Update magazine

Available in good newsagencies across the country for a mere $7.95, or you can subscribe and save your horses.

About Me

My photo

Bruce Devereaux is one of the nicest people he knows. When not at work he enjoys reading, writing, hiding from his children and not changing nappies.

 

His career, and if we used the term any more loosely an e might fall out, has included a gardener, a personal lender, a console operator, a stop/go man (not as big a bludge as you might think but great if you’re into sunburn, abuse and varicose veins), a cleaner of banks and pubs and, for a very brief period, a door to door salesman (until the last door he knocked on was answered by a very scary woman with tremendously hairy legs).

 

Bruce Devereaux currently works as a forty-five-year-old award winning customer service officer (glass statuette available upon request) for the Bank of Queensland and as a very casual employee for Corrective Services. He likes to believe he excels at both but then he has always been prone to exaggeration.

 

His favourite colour is green, with a picture of Dame Nellie Melba on one side and General Sir John Monash on the other. His favourite flower is self-raising.

 If you see him around town, call his wife immediately - he's probably snuck out and left her alone with all the kids.


 

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