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Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Can Do It Myself

Nothing a cloth, a hose, a shower
and a hungry dog can't fix.
Even though it can be frustrating waiting for a little miss or sir to work out which of the holes to stick their head into, or which shoe goes on which which foot, you've got to keep the big picture in mind - if you want them to stand a chance of meeting that special someone and moving out of the house before you die you've got to teach them little things like how to dress themselves and cook two minute noodles so they can survive in the real world. No one is going to date someone whose mum helps them put their undies on before they go out. 

And for the record, as much as you love the little cherub now, you WILL want them to move out at some point, if only so you can play some decent music.

As parents, one of the things we try to teach our kids is how to do things for themselves, whether it be making their own beds or dressing themselves.

I have a work colleague who is far better at this than I am. Her daughter has been making her own lunches since prep. My kids don't seem to know where we keep the lunchboxes - for a while there I'm pretty sure they thought their lunch boxes stayed in their school bags (which stayed in the car) and magically refreshed themselves with food overnight, much like a computer game. 

A level of self sufficiency is even more important in a house with this many souls in it. And a house with me in it. I don't know which dresses belong to which girls - I swear some of Miss17's clothes look like they're small enough to fit Miss4. 

And although getting them to do stuff for themselves is important it inevitably leads to some amusingly disastrous results. Like today, when Miss4 was making breakfast for herself and Miss2 and she covered herself in milky cereal. Herself, the table, the chair and the balcony.

Frustrating? Yes. 

Funny? Hell yes. 

Something she'll learn from? Well, I'd like to say yes but this isn't the first time her breakfast has leaped out of the bowl and made a dash for freedom, which is why they were breakfasting on the balcony, so I might get back to you on that in another 14 years.

Wish me luck - she likes listening to Justin Bieber. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I Choo-Choo-Choose CHRISTMAS!

Our four youngest and two cousins meet Santa and his missus after a train ride.
It was very exciting and they almost all loved it. Can you pick the odd one out?

G-town has a fantastic attraction called the Mary Valley Heritage Railway - an old train, The Rattler, which chugs and belches it's way along the tracks to some local towns and gives guests a chance to experience life before comfortable seats and air-conditioning. It reminds me of when I would go to town with my Nanna from home in Fairfield to Cabramatta.

In the lead up to Christmas the good folk at MVHR take families on short rides up the line, afterwards letting the little kids meet Santa and receive a toy. And all for $4 a head. We've made it an annual tradition, which includes checking out the Christmas lights around town before and afterwards. Every year I tell the kids we won't be stopping, we'll just drive past and every year they're so beautiful we stop and walk around the displays.

On the train, the Silver Bullet, Master6 and Miss8 got the chance to 'drive' the train - they did very well, concentrating very hard when we had to cross a bridge so as not to derail us. Unfortunately we couldn't all sit together on the train, but this just made it even more fun as we broke into several clusters to stare out the open windows at yards full of Christmas lights and to wave at drivers patiently waiting for us to clear the crossings.

Meanwhile, today I've been secretly putting together toys in our bedroom, with all the windows shut and the door locked. It's a lovely cool summer day outside, but I've been sweating like a long distance runner. So far it's all gone together pretty well, which I'm happy about. Tracey wanted to call in her father for the construction, but I refused to subcontract on this build. I just hope I haven't spoken too soon.

Some lovely friends of ours came and caroled us late this afternoon, which is something we look forward to each year. Love your work Pitt's!

Master20 just arrived home and Miss4 was all excited - "Geoffrey's not dead!" she yelled out as she ran to hug him.

"Right," said Master20. "Maybe I should call home a little more often."

So now, with all my children under our roof, it's really starting to feel like Christmas.

I'll catch up again after Christmas - I don't think anyone wants to blog on Christmas day, do they? In the meantime - MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone. Travel safe and party hard!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hide & Seek - frantic fun for the whole family

You know how when things seem to be going really well and then something unexpected happens and suddenly it seems you're trying to drink honey through a straw? No matter how hard you try you can't seem to get anywhere. Not quickly anyway.

Well that happened to us on Saturday night.

After an afternoon spent playing Rummy-O and watching the kids on scooters and swings we said goodnight to our hosts and mustered our kids towards the car, where we all stood waiting for someone to open the doors.

"You got the keys, Bruce?" Tracey asked me.

"No, you drove last," I reminded her.

She ferreted around in her purse and came up with nothing remotely resembling a car key.

"Maybe they're on the table," she suggested. After a minute I realized she was suggesting this to me so I could race back into the house. Still nothing. This nothing was becoming increasingly worrisome as sometime last month we misplaced our spare set of car keys at home. 

Thereafter ensued an emu hunt through the house looking for our keys, with all the adults and older kids involved in the search. Five minutes later we were continuing to find nothing when one of the younger kids whispered something in one of the older kids ears then ran off.

"Apparently the car keys have been buried in the garden," we were told. 

I was torn between three essential questions - who, why & where. The first was the easiestly answered - Miss4. The why involved a game of hide and seek which spun out of control. And the where took some coaching of a morose Miss4, a torch and a few minutes of digging to answer.

And I think in fairness it's got to be said - awesome hiding spot Miss4! You won that game by a clear margin. Just don't ever do it again.

Eventually we were on our way, chiding each other for not having found our spare keys yet and pledging we'd get to it sooner rather than later and turn our house, not to mention the garden, inside out until we find them.

Or we can maybe get another key cut. Can you guess which way I think we'll go?

Jazz In Wonderland

With summer here we once again opted to have our Jazz clippered, only this time we weren't going to make the same mistake as last year when we had all her hair taken off - a fully shaven dog was a big mistake because none of the kids (nor the adults initially) recognized her.

So we left her head and tale this year and what we've ended up with is something which reminds me of the Red Queen from Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland - a disproportionately large head on a wee little body.

This was last year's abortive effort -

Oh My Dog, What Have We Done?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scoring With Secret Santa

As my folks are spending Christmas in Cairns with my sister we celebrated our Devereaux family fun this weekend. As a result we've had a wonderful time at my parent's place with my brother and his family. Master19 and his beautiful partner, Frances, came up for the day, making it even more special.

A hotly contested Secret Santa item yesterday was this bell (for obvious  reasons). Actually hotly contested might be over stating it, but in any case I wanted it. Other desirables were a bbq tray for cooking sausages (worked not at all today at the park) and a Where's Willy (as opposed to g-rated Where's Wally) book. Come to think of it there was a large chocolate block with the Where's Willy book and maybe the girls were after that - that does seem more true to form.

Because there's so many kids in our families (8, excluding Master19 who is included in the adult group now), every adult buys for one child so the kids each get a present - we set a budget of $40 a gift - but it doesn't break the budget. For the adults we set a $10 budget for a present for the game of Secret Santa, meaning each person spent a total of $50 on gifts for the weekend.

Picking and trading presents in our Secret Santa can take an hour to get through a mere eight gifts, but it's one of the highlights of the get together.

And now the 'pleasure bell' has pride of place beside my bed. Thank you Santa!

One of the kids misread the writing on the bell yesterday and asked me if it says 'ring for six.' To be honest I don't care whether Tracey chooses sex or a six pack - either way I'll drift off to sleep happy :)

How we play Secret Santa:

1. Weeks ahead an amount is agreed upon as the maximum which can be spent of each gift. Keeping the amount low is the key to ensuring some ingenuity and a sense of humour is used in purchasing the gift - an expensive Blu-ray player might be a swell gift to receive but a cheap husband remote controller will get more chuckles, so cheap budgets are better.
2. All participants purchase one gift and wrap it, arriving at the function and putting their offering into the center of the table. I have Tracey buy, wrap and place mine. Afterall, someone has to focus on remembering to bring the beer.
3. Number bits of paper from one to how ever many people are participating, and everyone draws a number out of a hat. Watch for cheats at this point as everyone will want number 1. A good way to ensure no sneaks take advantage and sneakily get it is to sneakily get it yourself. I recommend simply not adding it to the hat and then pretending to pull it out. Remember, you're not cheating, your stopping others from cheating.
4. Starting with number one (you, refer to step 3), everyone gets to pick a wrapped gift from the center of the table, or alternately, if someone has unwrapped something they fancy, they can forego picking a wrapped present and steal it off them. When this happens the person who has lost their gift can now likewise either steal an unwrapped present off someone or pick a still wrapped gift from the middle. Once a gift has been stolen in a round, it can't be restolen until the next round. The stealing of gifts is where the real fun comes into play. I steal gifts I don't want just to upset the cart of apples - not the bell though: I wanted the bell.
5. Once all the gifts are unwrapped and everyone has a present there is one final opportunity for stealing, with the person who had number one (You.Yay!) given the chance to steal what they want. This is usually a hotly contested round, with people trying to be sneaky and making their gift less obvious if they don't want it taken, or people trying to talk up their gift and encourage someone to take it off their hands. Strategy is rife with couples too, because once a present is stolen it can't be swapped again, so it isn't unusual for a husband to steal their wife's gift to secure it.

For the record, I didn't steal the bell off Tracey and neither did she steal it off me to secure it for us. She went for the cheese knives. I'm trying not to read too much into that.

Above - my brother Shane gets to use his Secret Santa score for our breakfast at the park, only to find it doesn't work real well. Later we worked out it's actually for cooking snags on BBQ grills. Should have gone for the bell, Shanus. Sucker!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Catching a Conversation By The Tale

You know how sometimes when you come in on the end of a conversation you don't actually pick up on the thread of the topic so well? That happened to me today.

A girl at work was chatting to a customer while she saw to his banking needs.

"We don't use the F word here," she said to him as I passed by.

Odd thing to say, I thought. I wonder if he was being rude or if they were talking about work protocols. He seemed like an alright sort of guy, and there was no hint of animosity between them. Never one to censor my words I jumped in.

"We say intercourse instead," I told the customer.

Both Kimmy and her customer continued to stare at me for what became an awkward amount of time. They mustn't have heard me properly, I thought.

"We don't say the F word, we say intercourse," I said helpfully. Thinking this time, for sure, I'd elicit a snicker. I got more than a snicker, I can tell you. But the joke was on me.

"Actually, the F word we were talking about was FLOODS," said Kimmy.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Local Flash Mob

Who says we ain't all class like here in G-town?

Few of the local girls and boys rounded up a flash mob (misnamed because it's very g-rated and all their clothes are kept on) at the local shopping centre. I'm not at all surprised - karaoke is huge here.

I was very excited when I saw the sheet music - thought they were going to break into a bit of Jeff Buckley. But it was a nice song anyway, although I only know the words to the chorus.

Good to see a few of the old girls up on tables - no doubt there were a few under them as well. Tends to be the way when a bunch of friends get together and go out on the town in Gympie.

Great effort boys and girls :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Water Slide

An exhausting six parties this last weekend, including my staff party. Three kids parties on Saturday and two on Sunday kept us hopping.

The final party on Sunday started with everyone huddled in the garage as a storm went over.

Looking at the water slide set up in the yard I asked Tracey if we were inside because we were worried the kids might get wet.

"No," she assured me. "We're worried about them getting electrocuted or a limb falling off that tree." This is why Tracey is in charge.

After the storm passed the kids spent a couple of hours on the slide having a ball. The slide itself was $20 of plastic, the spare tyres off the cars, a hose and a bottle of detergent. So much cheaper than the shop bought ones and yet so much wider and longer.

I was half expecting tears and scraps before we left but the whole thing went without a mishap, although Miss1 cleared the playing field when she shat in her pants.

Awesome fun.
Miss4 rides Miss8 all the way
down to the puddle of suds

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sleepover House Rules

A boy stayed over last night. That's right, a boy.
Although Miss16 has been quite at pains to explain this boy is not a boyfriend yet I think, from what I've seen of the two of them together, I would much rather if she told me he was.

Watching young people grow from child to adult is both a wonder and a trial. You hope you've taught them well and they've listened to the bits you especially wanted them to listen too, and realized much of the rest was meant tongue in cheek and wasn't to be taken seriously. Then you let them go.

We have rules, of course, regarding friends of the opposite sex staying over. She's 16 - 17 in a few weeks - so we try to be realistic, like we were with her older brother. Different beds (she has a bunk bed so effectively she's in the tower, he's in the dungeon) and no closed doors. 

The door was shut for a minute last night when we were out and Grandma was here looking after the kids for us. 

"It's only because there's glare on the telly," Miss16 told Grandma.

"Well, move the telly," Grandma told them, and firmly opened the door. Grandma knows the rules, but nice try guys.

Actually they'd have had to be pretty determined to get anywhere last night anyway, even after Grandma went home - I slept in the lounge room because I snore when I drink too much and Tracey was working today, so they had my head lying down on the lounge two meters from their bedroom. And I was awake until 3 watching a Queen special and waiting for the room to stop spinning. 

Growing up, both our older kids have told us about friends and parties and the things that go on. Sometimes I wonder we're too strict. Mostly I don't. I think it's a balance - trying to give them freedom while still guiding them.

Myself, I hated being a teenager in lust. For a start I was fine talking to girls so long as I didn't actually fancy them - then I was as useless as a fork with soup. Last thing any teenager needs is a side dish of guilt to go with their raging hormones. 

As far as sex is concerned, because let's face it, when they have friends of the opposite sex sleep over that is the only thing you're concerned about, we have some rules. Or guidelines. No, guidelines sounds too iffy, they're rules.

These are our rules regarding fooling around and sex:

1. Take your time. Don't rush the bases. Once you hit second base it's hard to go back to first. 
2. When the time comes, it's your decision. Don't have sex for the wrong reasons. Wrong reasons include, but are not limited to: to impress friends: because he wants to: because you feel pressured. After that, it's up to you. 
3. Relationships are about people, not sex. Sex is just a bit of fun. And it is fun: great fun. But if it's just about sex, then it's not a great relationship.
4. Protection is not optional.

We're not buying her a double bed or anything and we hope she waits until she's a bit older before she hits a home run (not a rule maybe, but we like to put it out there, and if said while uttering the rules it carries more weight - we hope). 

Okay, who knows. She might end up with a string of boyfriends before settling down at 35. Or she might marry the first guy she sleeps with. Hell, she may decide to wait until she's married. It's been done before you know. At the end of the day, it's up to her, not us. And anyway I trust her to make the right decisions. And if you think the tone of that last line is a little desperately hopeful, well welcome to parenthood.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Our Christmas Tree Is Finally Up

Last night we finally erected our Christmas tree.

We're a bit late this year with getting things organized but we were trying to wait for Master19 to come up from Brisbane so we could do it all together, but for one reason or another it never eventuated.

Even Miss16 didn't make it to the tree decorating because of work, but we couldn't put it off any longer - late tree assembly is number eight on the top ten catalyst events resulting in dysfunctional families. Or we just couldn't take the endless, whining, zombiefying pleas for Miss8 to put the tree up. One of those.

For years we've alternated between nicely decorated trees, beautifully colour coordinated with green and silver, or crappily decorated trees, the crappy part being the toilet roll decorations my kids have made (bless 'em).

This year we decided to just get all the decorations out and let the little buggers do whatever they wanted to the tree - so naturally we ended up with a tree resplendently adorned with every single bauble and bit of tinsel in the house.

Unlike most families, I suspect, the last thing we add to our little corner of Christmas isn't the angel or star on top of the tree, it's the kiddy pen around it - not to stop the gifts from getting out but to stop the kids from getting in, or they'll unwrap all the presents and destroy the lights and generally bringing the tree down on top of themselves.

So now the tree is up and safely behind it's prison fence it's finally starting to feel like Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My 'Gympie Woman' Magazine Contribution

The lovely ladies at the Gympie Women In Business asked me to contribute towards their latest Gympie Woman publication, and the needy media-tart in me accepted eagerly. I appeared in the I Say, You Say section giving my take on Christmas Day - where do you spend it? I thought today I'd share it with you. There's a link at the bottom of the page if you would like to nip over and see what the magazine is all about.

Is it any wonder we're all a bit grumpy on Christmas Day? Firstly, you stay awake until the wee small hours playing Santa's Little Helpers and constructing bikes and trampolines with butter knives. Then three hours later the kids wake you up screaming excitedly in your ear, "It's Christmas!"

Shortly after you're dragged out to a magnificent tree resplendent with home made decorations (because nothing says Christmas like badly painted toilet rolls) and celebrating this holiest of days by watching the kids unwrap the latest 1st person shooter for their PS3.

And I love it! I LOVE Christmas. Love, love, love it. I love my kids getting so excited they could almost burst: I love I've been able to yell 'Merry Christmas' at everyone for the last month: I love everywhere I go on Christmas Day I'm presented with enough food to 'Feed The World': And I love, love, love it's the last day I'll have to listen to the croonings of Bing Crosby for another 11 whole months. 

But do you know why i think I especially love Christmas so very much? Because I'm not the one driving two hours on the Bruce Highway, dragging the kids away from their new presents and demanding they be happy about it.

Not that I haven't done my share over the years. When my parents lived in Brisbane I was the one trekking down the highway on public holidays with all the other grim faced parents, Tracey reminding me to use all my fingers when I wave at the other drivers.

Trying to arrange getting around to all the different family functions on the same day is the real Nightmare Before Christmas. Eating just enough at each so as not to make yourself sick nor offend your host is akin to a modern day Christmas miracle. And if there's a marriage split it's even harder. You try telling Grandma and Grandad they won't be seeing their grandkids until the week after Christmas because it's not your year. Nothing but coal in your stocking.

Eventually you pull up in your driveway in the wee hours, carry your sleeping kids into their beds - their sugar highs thankfully having worn off two kilometers from home - down your first beer of the day then crawl gratefully between the sheets to catch some Z's, only to have your wife wake you three hours later by shouting excitedly in your ear, "It's the Boxing Day sales!"

Is it any wonder the day after Christmas we agree to stay home with the kids and let the missus go shopping by herself?

Gympie Women In Business

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Changing Of The Guard

It's nice to know sending all our sons and daughters backpacking overseas for gap years is really helping to spread the Australian culture.

This morning a lovely retired client of mine was taking me through the highs and lows of her recent trip to the northern hemisphere. She and a friend visited Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, France and Monte Carlo. They'd eaten pancakes beneath the Eiffel Tower and even tried haggis in a Scottish castle (one of those was a high, one a low - you guess which is which).

But the highlight of her telling of the trip was the changing of the guards, because the way she tells it is a riot. I wish you were all there with me to hear it, but in lieu of that I've tried to use her words where I can:

"At Buckingham Palace they were so stoic, so in command. You could tickle their top lip and they wouldn't budge an inch to smack you in the head, like they probably should to people who tickle other people's top lips. But you don't really appreciate how impressive they are until you go to Monte Carlo," she said knowingly. "In Monte Carlo the guards were leaning against things and smoking and had their hands all over girls who wanted their picture taken with them. At Buckingham Palace they stand rigid, their eyes remain fixed and intense. In Monte Carlo they're grinning like coneheads for the cameras. Plus at Buckingham Palace, when the changing of the guard takes place, they march out and salute and everything is very regimented and impressive. At the changing of the guard in Monte Carlo, when the new guard saluted, the retiring guard gave him the thumbs up before sauntering off."

I don't know: it all sounds a little familiar to me. Maybe some Aussie backpackers have picked up a bit of holiday work in Monte Carlo, what do you think?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Go The F@ck To Sleep

Noni can do no wrong in my books, although she was apparently in some hot water for this reading. Tracey and I think it's hilarious, because it is. And any parent who hasn't at least hissed this under their breath at one time or another is lying or has a nanny.

Samuel L Jackson also does a reading of this fabulous book, but even though the F word rolls out of his mouth like oil out of my old Holden Gemini, Noni's Playschool rendition nails it for me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Lack Of Drive

I've never liked cars. Not ever. Especially old ones which have lost their youthful vitality and just want to curl up and nap all the time, as mine tend to do.

Clearly transport intended on being an issue for me today.

Tracey had herself and Master6 booked in for a mole check at 8am this morning and to put the car in for a service after dropping the kids at school, so we needed to rearrange our schedule. Well one of us did, and fyi it was Tracey. By the time I exited the bathroom, five minutes before her appointment, she had the kids organised and waiting.

The plan was for me to go to work while Tracey juggled the four kids through the morning. Good plan, I thought. Bye.

"I'm late," said Tracey as I was breezing out the door with my car keys..

"I won't hold you up," I told her helpfully.

Then looked at the veins setting to burst on the forehead of my heavily pregnant wife. So I helped: cause that's what us hero-type-dads do when the need arises - we swoop in and save the day. Plus I need her to still want to sleep with me when the kids are asleep.

There was no time to dump Miss8 at school or Miss1 at Grandmas. And no car seats in The Red Rocket, so we couldn't divide and conquer.

"Come on!" I encouraged the kids towards the Pajero. "We're late!"

When they were all inserted in their respective harnesses I raced up to The Red Rocket as Tracey shot off up the road. I turned the key. Nothing. I turned the key again. A clicking of some sort - it was difficult to hear it clearly over the cussing sound I was making. On my third try it started and I backed out of the drive and.......realized I had no idea where the mole scan clinic was.

I drove into town and did a few laps of the main streets, finally locating our 4WD. Parking on a hill in case I had to roll start I arrived in the waiting room just as the kids were rearranging the magazines into a less sterile arrangement.

Twenty minutes later it became clear things weren't running on time.

"I need to go," I mentioned weakly.

"But there's noone to look after them when I'm being checked over."

"I'll take the strays to work," I offered. Deal. I raced up the street with Miss1 & Miss4, leaving The Red Rocket to fend for itself and hoping the handbrake was going to hold better than I suspected it would.

Half an hour later, Tracey arrived at work to save us from the whirlwind of destruction which is our littlest two. She also drove my up to where The Red Rocket was parked so I could take it to work.

And the worst was over. Or so I thought.

As the words 'see you tomorrow' came out my mouth this afternoon someone pulled the plug on the clouds and the rain pelted down. By the time I jogged the twenty meters to my car, carting six loaves of bread and some groceries, I looked like a contestant in a wet t-shirt competition. Who am I kidding - with my puppies I'd be a finalist.

Tossing the bags in the back seat I shut the door and turned the key. Nothing. I turned it again. Nothing much. On the third attempt it fired and I breathed a sigh of relief. Prematurely, as it turned out.

You know what is worse than having a flat battery in the car park? Stalling the car on a hill and not being able to start it up again, meaning you have to wave the traffic past until you can roll backwards to a safer spot to park.

Fed up with the whole day I decided to leave The Red Rocket where I managed to roll it and called Tracey for a lift home. I figure I'll call RACQ in my lunch break tomorrow.

"I can't, honey," said Tracey. "The Pajero is still at the mechanics."

I've never really liked cars and at this point it seems unlikely to change.

A Crying Shame


Now here we are, nine days later, and she's out again! This time with her mother and sister, watching a  show called Motherhood or something.

I know what you're thinking - what a selfless man: what a lucky woman. Hey, maybe I don't know what you're thinking afterall.

All I know is once the dinner, baths & bed are done, it's all about me.

All day at work I kept running over things in my head to ensure it was going to run smooth. Should we play UNO before bed? Should I let them bunk in the one room? What are their names again? It's important to get these little things right.

Which was lucky I did because, as always on the big jobs, something was overlooked this morning.

"Tracey!" I said when she answered the phone. "You need to put some beer in the fridge."

Disaster averted.

So now it's 8pm and everyone is asleep. Actually they've been asleep for nearly an hour. Usually their bed time is around now, but they looked so puckered out and besides, I hid the clock.

How. Awesome. Is this.

Tonight is about me. I can drink beer on the lounge and watch the shows which make Tracey cringe. I'm starting with an episode of Yes, Minister followed by Who's Line Is It Anyway and then a little Fawlty Towers, all while reading The Bourne Supremacy on my kindle....wait, that's the baby. All good - installed a dummy.

So now it's 10.30pm. 

The big kids were great tonight. The only time I heard hide nor hair of them was when Miss8 popped into the lounge room and asked me to keep the baby quiet because she was trying to sleep.

I don't know what my wife did to our baby before she left but clearly Miss0 was broken.

I've barely had time to scratch myself tonight. I haven't watched a single thing I wanted. I haven't even had a beer. My night was a cycle of dummy, bottle, burp, nappy, dummy, bottle, burp, nappy - none of it making any difference. 

Of course, when Tracey walked in the door she took the crying baby out of my hands and the noise stopped.

"Is there a button or a switch I don't know about?" I asked her.

Next time Tracey wants a girls night out I'm thinking she can take the kids so we can both have some fun.

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