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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Butterfly Kisses

Songs like this don't mix well with a new little girl. The difficulty is trying to sing along without blubbering. I better not play this again or I'll lose all my street cred. 

She Who Must Be Named

The last 24 hours have been a bit of a whirlwind. Last night the kids and I sat on the balcony and wet the baby's head - me with beer, them with coke spiders. And cheese toasties for everyone.

With all the rushing around, all I can say is thank god for family because with the CEO of Devereaux Incorporated out of the office it's fallen to me to get kids, and their lunches, to school. And to do their hair.

Because their hair has been Tracey's primary concern I have included photos here of my efforts, for your and her perusal. I don't think I'm in any danger of Tracey handing over the hair reigns to me - I mean check out the zigzag pattern at the back of Miss8's head. But the big flowers cover most of their heads so the embarrassment is kept to a minimum.

After a night of deep thought and soul searching (and me bending her arm up behind her back to finally make a decision) Tracey has made up her mind.

Not to be petty, but I should like to point out at this juncture the name we ended up with is the exact name, spelling and all, we were batting around six months ago. Trouble was we almost called Molly the same name and Tracey feels like she's giving our new bub, the youngest of five girls (and who is therefore going to be the Hand-me-down Queen) a hand me down name.

This is why I've historically named the kids: I'm decisive - although outside of baby naming they've not all been fantastically good decisions, I'll admit. But I would have settled this six months ago and we could have been arguing about lots of other stuff instead.

Also we wanted to name our new bub for our dear departed friend Christopher - only she came out with internal plumbing and we weren't sure about Christine or Christina (lovely names though they are). In the end we decided to honour him with the middle name and used his preferred spelling of Chriss.

After months and months of indecision, this morning when I asked Tracey what we're to call our new bub she said, "I don't know. What do you think? What do you want to call her?"

A little psychology was needed. "Morticia," I said. Or Wednesday. Any of the Addams Family names would  have sufficed for this purpose. Actually I admit I've done this before, scaring mine and Tracey's parents by suggesting Fester for a boy. I still think Fester Devereaux has a ring to it. At least it had the desired response of forcing Tracey's hand.

"Eww...really? No."

"Gertrude? Mabel?" Both popular early last decade I'm sure, but not so much now.

"I think I like Emily," she blurted out.

"But with Morticia we could call her Morty for short. That's so sweet."

"Emmy for short. Emily Chriss. I've made a decision." Hallelujah!

Well done Tracey. A beautiful name for a beautiful little girl.

And take your time in coming home to this wonderful chaos. Remember, if necessary the really bad knots can be cut out ;)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hello World. I'm a girl !!

I rolled over this morning and nearly jumped out of my skin - Tracey was sitting up in bed facing me.

"I think you better have a shower," she said.

Fifteen minutes later I'd also managed a shave.

"Call your mum," said Tracey, "but don't tell her I'm in labour. I don't want to jinx it again. Just invite her up for a coffee." 

At 4.30am.

An hour later we were ready to head up to the hospital: not to have a baby, mind, just because it looks so nice in the early morning light and Tracey thought I should see it.

As Tracey made her way through the house Master6 stumbled out of his room. He quickly appraised the situation and sorted his priorities. 

"Can I play the DS?"

"Not now, Josh," I told him. "It's still bedtime and you've got school today. Mummy and I are just going up to the hospital to have your-"

"Uh-huh!!" snapped Tracey from halfway across the kitchen, where she'd frozen mid-step in another wave of pain.

"-to see the doctor."

He turned around to walk back to bed, but suddenly froze mid-step. It took me all of five seconds to work out what was going on.

"Josh," I said. "Stop mocking your mum and go back to bed."

At the hospital, which was quite lovely nestled beneath the morning rain clouds, we stop-started our way towards the emergency entrance.

"Here, hold my arm," I suggested as we traversed the slope of the hospital drive.

"Why?" asked Tracey. "You worried you'll slip?" Gee, I wonder where Master6 gets it.

Up to the fourth floor: the mid-wife directed us into the waiting room. "It's time, is it?"

"Yes," said Tracey. And then it all stopped. "Oh, shit!"

Fortunately it started up again an hour later, only this time with instant vigor.

And at 8.35am this morning, little 'soon to be named' arrived at a healthy 7lbs3. Miss0 is 51cm long with an apparently deceptively large head and is the most beautiful little cherub in the whole world. Both are doing well and as we speak the Devereaux and Lawrence clans are converging on the hospital to welcome our latest wonder. 

Is there a feeling in the world to compare with a day like this? I'm forty-four and this is the seventh time I've been privileged enough to experience it, and I think not. I must say though that as a father, witnessing your wife endure the pain and being unable to do anything much about it, you do feel quite useless and unnecessary. All you can do is mutter encouragements, rub her back and make sure there's always cold water handy for sipping. Which I'm told is heaps, but every time I think when this is done she's going to hate me.

Then today, same as every time, when I was leaving to tie up some loose ends, Tracey grabbed my hand. 

"Hurry back," she said. 

You girls really do forget everything just as soon as the baby comes out, don't you?! Our marriage is, I think, a testament to that innate ability.

Thank you to everyone who has been so forthcoming with their encouragements and blessings on this journey. But mostly, thank you to my sweet, darling wife for all she endures so willingly so we can have this big, wonderful family x

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

It Seems My English Teachers Should Fry

I have just learned the most horrible news: I'm dumb. I am, apparently, the product of a misguided education where we were taught falsehoods and lies.

What has me in such a tither? Well according to Stephen Fry on QI, the 'I before E except after C' is no longer taught in school because in the English language there are, in fact, more cases of the opposite being true.

There are, according to Mr Fry, 923 English words which don't abide by this rule, 21 times as many words that break the rule than don't. Seriously, if we were going to discard rules simply because more people don't follow them than do half our road rules would be gone in a flash.

It's only been 26 years since I was in school (straight face). What else have they gone and changed? Next thing you'll be telling me I can't teach my kids the difference between principle and principal by explaining the principal is your pal (I always thought this rule was more the punchline to a little English teacher joke).

Not that I think all these things matter anymore. I have a son in university who I'm pretty sure can't spell university. There are letters dropping out of words all over the place these days - 'are' lost an 'a' and an 'e' and is reduced to just 'r'. Texts with my kids are awash with OMG, LOL, ROFL, BRB, GTG and FYI's. I mean, WTF?

Anyway, I'm not lying (unlike my teachers!). See for yourself:

Common Cents

This week Miss4 has discovered money. Not for spending, mind you, but just for the fun sound it makes when you put it in a tin.

A riot broke out a few days ago because Miss4 was running around the house with Miss8's piggy bank, repeatedly emptying the coins out and then picking them up off the floor and putting them back into the slot, like she was caught in a loop. Miss8 was especially worried some coins would go missing. Given the sheer number of incomplete jigsaw puzzles and three quarter packs of playing cards in the house this was not a baseless concern.

We soon found Miss4 her own piggy bank and she immediately began a looking for ways to grow her wealth.

She's been searching the house for coins, finding them in the lounge, in drawers and in her mother's purse. I'm fairly certain some of the coins she found under the coffee table were in fact dropped there by herself out of Miss8's money box, but as her older sister hasn't noticed I've let it slide. Sixty cents is a small price to pay for peace, especially when Miss8 is picking up the tab.

Not satisfied with the slow growth of wealth through finding money, Miss4 is keen to earn it too. 

A purely fictional typical day might start with Tracey walking into a girl's room and saying something like, "Hello my little cherubs. How are we all this mor....Holy cow!! This room is a mess! Why is my bra on Raggedy Ann's head? And who's been eating the felt pens? Clean this up immediately or I'll sell you all for scientific experiments."

To which a green and orange mouthed Miss4 will ask, "How much pocket money will I get?" 

I'm not really sure what Tracey says after this because it's fairly indecipherable and a little too highly pitched for my man ears. And, oh that's right, it's a fictional story....right.

Not to be deterred, today Miss4 came up with a new way to make money - she was singing and dancing in the kitchen when she came up with the idea to win it in a competition.

"I've got an idea!" she announced this morning at breakfast. "Grandma, you and mummy can have a contest and whoever guesses what I'm singing can give me money!"

Personally, I'm as proud of the little Scrooge McDucky as it's possible for a banker to be.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baby Carrots

Today we've looked up home remedy inducing ideas on the net and discarded a few - caster oil for example. Apparently is stimulates the gut and makes you feel nauseous.

"I don't need a laxative," Tracey told me as she rubbed her belly. "I'm a week overdue. I've already got the shits."

Impatient for out little bundle of joy to join us, we've embraced the slightly ridiculous here in the Devereaux household.

We've been set a day for Tracey being induced, something she isn't keen to endure after the prolonged and painful delivery it produced with our current Miss8.

"Of course the baby's not coming," said Tracey this morning. "We haven't even got her cot set up."

Now I'm not sure of the logic behind this because I'm pretty sure my mum tells a story about her parents putting little newborns to bed in bottom draws in lieu of cradles.

And in fact the cot is set up, it's just in a different room. Currently we use it as a cell to keep Miss2 in one spot long enough for her to drop off to sleep. And to keep her in that same spot should she wake during the night. It is, in fact, playing a pivotal role in my sanity. Tonight in the wee hours I predict I shall be digging under beds in search of our port-a-cot with Miss2 alternatively jumping on my back and demanding 'boddles'.

Despite this, Miss17 and I moved the cot into the main bedroom today. We also rearranged the lounge room into a more baby safe configuration which I mention only to show how awesome a husband I am (which is only slightly offset by the knowledge Tracey has been asking me to do it for a month).

So now the cot is up in the right room things should really start moving, right? Back to the internet.

None of home remedies really seemed to offer much hope though, not curries or pineapple juice. Nipple stimulation kept cropping up as encouraging, though even sex was deemed inconclusive (I'm demanding a recount).

Interestingly enough one web site suggested oral sex instead of actual penetration because the semens high concentration of prostaglandins is more quickly digested through the gut. Well I found it interesting.

"I'd rather drink the caster oil," Tracey said.

Short of sitting between Tracey's knees dangling a dummy and a bottle on a stick I don't know what else we can do. I just hope we don't go all the way to Tuesday.

Turning Tables

Change isn't to be feared, it's to be toyed with. According to my kids.

Most mornings, for example, they change perfectly neat and presentable bedrooms into rooms which look like candidates for the Hoarders tv show, with every toy and bit of clothing from their wardrobes spread out or piled up on their floors.

I may be exaggerating slightly, but I really, really wish I was exaggerating a whole lot more.

Today their mess wasn't on their floor though. Isn't it funny how people can see different things in the same object? The old 'one man's trash is another man's treasure' scenario. With the rearranging of Miss17's room, a desk and chair made their way onto the balcony last night with plans to re-install them into another room today. Or the garage, depending on who wins the argument - my wife or myself. I don't like my chances.

I see the desk as an eyesore at the moment, sitting on balcony waiting for a home, but the kids suddenly saw it as a new plaything and within half an hour of waking up it was surrounded by kids and covered in toys, with a spirited game of Pokemon and a multi-layered story playing out: Multi-layered insofar as in each kid seemed to have their own plot and dialogue going on.

It was fun to sit slightly away from the action and catch snippets of the conversation.

"Scooby-Do, I choose you!" and phone calls on the toy phone back to Professor X demanding more pokeballs and icecream.

And all because we haven't decided if I give in to my wife gracefully in the positioning of the table or if my opinion is to go out kicking and screaming.

I think I'll just move it back into the house and free up the rest of my day off. After the kids have finished playing, of course.

That'll give me time to barricade their bedroom doors first so they can't get back into their bedrooms. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Picture Perfect

Carrying Miss2 through the hallway to her bed, she stuck out a finger and announced, "Dad!"

I continued into the lounge room before Tracey dragged me back into the hall.

"Did you hear what she just said?" she asked me.

"Dad," I said. She's not the first kid to call me that. Was there something she was trying to tell me?

"She pointed at our wedding picture and recognized you!" said Tracey.

Still carrying Miss2 I stopped in front of our wedding photo.

"Where's daddy?" I asked.

"Dare!" she said brightly, pointing at a younger and damn fine looking me. And in a suit to boot.

"And where's mummy?" I asked.

She looked at the picture for a minute, a confused look crossing her face. I reckon I could hear the wheels turning - 'Well clearly that's not her. Is there someone behind them?' Finally she saw it: she realized her Mummy was standing right beside me.

"Dare!" she said, ignoring the photo now and pointing at Tracey.

Way to cut your mother down when she's nine months pregnant, Miss2. Mind you, my chuckling probably wouldn't have helped matters either.

"That's it," said Tracey. "I'm getting contacts."

Cause as every Superman fan knows, wearing glasses makes you completely unrecognizable. What I didn't mention, because I know how pregnant she is and I'm not two, is how much better an argument this would have been if I hadn't been wearing any myself.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Catch & Release

I understand how during pregnancy there are all sorts of things going on inside the female's body. You know, hormonally. And on Sunday night I got to see just how radically the hormones have changed my wife.

I'm not very good with animals. Except maybe cows, pigs, chickens and lambs. I know exactly what to do with them cause I am very fond of eating animals. A trip to Underwater World quickly gets my mouth watering as I envisage what I could do with all those thick fillets and start to wonder how long it's been since I had a nice chilli crab.

When I happen across a fishing program on telly I really can't understand why they release the fish back into the water after they've gone to all the trouble of catching it. I yell at the screen, "Are you mad! Why the hell are you even out there?"  It could take me days to catch a decent sized fish when I was a kid. No way was I tossing it back. I'm guessing it's all show for the camera. Plus they're probably so sick of fish they only eat steak back at the motel.

Eating animals I excel at. Maybe it's truer to say I'm not very good with pets. We have a dog - a beautiful Samoyed named Jazz- but I can't stand when she licks me or, worse, presses her bum up against me, as she is prone to do. I try to give her attention and pat her and all that, but my hearts really not in it. It's not her fault - she's a smart dog. It's all me.

My family has a history of being bad with pets - my sister had her class guinea pig for one night and managed to drown it in a bucket of water while giving it a bath. I don't care much for guinea pigs either, come to think of it. We bought some for the kids one Christmas, and near as I can tell they're just poo machines.

The critters I really can't stand, though, are mice. Unless it's a computer mouse - I'm a dream with them.

For the last fifteen years it's been Tracey's job to empty traps and deal with any little critters who happen to wander into our home.

Only now it seems, much like the fishing programs on television, we've instigated a new 'catch & release' program for rodents here in the Devereaux household. I'm assuming it's got something to do with her pregnancy hormones because this is a woman who in the past, if she saw a mouse, wasn't prone to going into a tizzy and joining me up on a chair, she would toss shoes at the rodent with all the deadly speed and accuracy of a pitcher's arm.

Which is why it was such a shock to hear her chatting to the mouse whose leg was caught in a trap on Sunday night.

"Are you alright, sweetie? Look at you, you're so small," she cooed. I'm surprised she didn't set down a plate with some cookies.

And so, while I watched standing comfortably on a chair, Tracey set the little mouse free into our garden, where no doubt it will round up all its mousey friends and tell them about the mouse friendly house owned by the nice lady with the big stomach.

Seriously though, heaven help them once that baby pops out.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Fourth Trimester

Last night things really started heating up in our bed. No, not like that: Tracey was getting contraction like pains.

While mild at first they did build over half an hour so we thought it was time to get things sorted. It was 11.30pm. I rang the hospital to let them know to expect us in tonight. I rang my mother and she came over to mind the kids. I put the hospital bag in the car. I posted an entry on Facebook.

Then we waited. Then, around 1.30am, things started to die down.

"We'll go for a drive," I suggested.

Although Tracey thought it was an old wives tale, we went. Turns out Gympie has some fantastic baby inducing roads - all sparsely bitumened and lit for our convenience. Whether or not it was the pot-holed streets of G-town I don't know, but suddenly it was on again.

"Have you got the camera?"

"Yes, dear."

"The phone?"

"Yes, dear." I mean, this isn't the first birth I've attended.

We popped home to let my mum know we were heading to the hospital. While Tracey updated my mother I quickly ducked into our bedroom and grabbed the camera and phone then tried to muster her back to the car.

"It's settled down again," she told me. Despite my mother and I encouraging her with cries of "Push! Push!" an hour later it was obvious things were going right off the boil again.

Tracey was a bit peeved by now. Forgetting completely this was the one night she didn't want to have a baby because it was the first day of the new school year in the morning, she said, "It's got to be tonight. I'm in my fourth trimester!"

Again it started up and again things settled down. By 5am it was all over red rover for the night. Dang and bugger.

Ah well. Maybe tonight. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brunch in the Park

With brother Shane, Shelley, Harrison, Lily and Annabelle up for the weekend to visit Grandma and Grandad we took advantage of the  fantastic weather and took the family to the duck ponds and their newest activity area for kids. 

While the kids ran around the enclosed park we prepared a simple but damn fine tasting BBQ (can you guess who cooked) to fill our bellies. These are the days I live for - family, fun and food. Only thing missing was beer - damn my diet!

Great thing about a day like this is it takes our minds off the fact little baby number seven hasn't graced us with it's presence yet. Well, if you ignore the beach ball Tracey appears to be smuggling under her top. 

Tomorrow, being the first day of the school year, is the ONLY day Tracey doesn't want to have the baby because she doesn't think I'll be up to the challenge of delivering all four little kids to their respective classrooms (daycare for Miss2) with the appropriate books, pens, clothes and hairstyles.

Don't be fooled, hairstyles is the most important on that list. Initially I was to do their hair.

"Can't I just put a hat on them?" I asked Tracey. Quick change of plan. If Tracey goes into labour tonight I am to march all the kids up to hospital tomorrow, not to meet their latest sibling, but to get their hair combed, braided, plaited and juzzed. I don't even know how to spell juzzed. 

But I am doing all the lunches :)

At least we have today's relaxing vibes to carry us through tomorrow's stress. Well, Tracey does. I've got Tracey to carry me through.

Flying Fox kept us all amused for an hour.

Miss4 takes up her usual
position astride Cousin4.
Miss8 appears to be attempting similar
position with Cousin9.
What is it about my kids? They always want to be carried.

Me looking trimmer than I have in years. And scarier. If I'd
presented that face to Tracey when we first met I don't think
we'd currently be waiting for baby number seven.

Cousin12 gets set to 'own' the Flying Fox. I keep 
thinking he's mid-teens, he's so big.

Cousin9 goes for her fifteen or sixteenth trip
down the Flying Fox - it was a huge success
with all the kidlettes, especially with Shane &
myself  hurtling them down the line.

 Miss2 returning from wherever she was (water play sand pit)
looking very pleased with herself. Actually, Tracey probably knew
where she was. It's me who has no idea.

My brother Shanus. He's not very pretty - hat
and dark glasses are for your own protection

Miss17 giving some sort of hand signal.
I don't know when she learned to sign - just
another of her myriad of talents methinks.

Flavour returns to my diet

It may not look much, but this is a diet saver.
I was so damn pleased with dinner tonight I had to post it.

I'm still going hard on protein and avoiding carbs like they're that Aunt who always pulls your ear and insists on bringing up every bad decision you've ever made at the dinner table like they're some hilarious joke.

My brother was up in G-town this weekend and told me I can eat cheese on my protein diet. WTF? Who decided to keep this tasty morsel of  information from me? Avocados are in too!

Tonight I threw together some crispy bacon, cos lettuce, shaved Parmesan, boiled eggs and avocado. Then I made a Caesar dressing, with olive oil, egg, lemon juice, garlic and lots of anchovies.

It was simply delicious. My mouth is watering just writing the list of ingredients.

Cinnamon Finger Tea Cake

With first day of the new school year tomorrow, it can only mean one thing - it's cake baking time!

As you'll see, things didn't exactly work out as I intended, although it wasn't without it's fun.

Today I assisted Miss4. After keen observation of my daughter's cake baking technique I've given the instructions as per how she bakes.

You will need:
She's all "I made this" and thinking she's ever so clever.

Cake -
60g butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup milk

Topping -
1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Help dad grab out all the ingredients. Drop milk. Clean up. Put finger in butter. Lick.

2. Beat butter and sugar to a cream. Taste. Add vanilla. Taste. Beat some more. Taste again.

3. Add the egg and beat well, pausing to taste every two seconds or so. goes the finger. Again.
Mixing away well until.....
4. Alternatively add sifted salt & flour and the milk. Say, "I just better taste a little bit again" and dig your finger in. Screw up face when finger delivers mouthful of flour to lips. Beat some more until flour is mixed in with wet mixture. Taste. Taste some more. When dad takes over the beating because you've essentially stopped and are just making a meal of it use both hands to maximize tasting.

5. Pour what is left of the mixture into a greased tin and commandeer bowl, beaters and spatula for intense licking.

6. Continue licking, ignoring dad while he bakes the cake at 160 degrees for 20 minutes.

7. Disappear into the lounge room to watch Pokemon with big brother while dad turns the cake onto a rack, brushes the cake with butter and then sprinkles with cinnamon and sugar.

8. Tell all and sundry you're very clever and have made a cake. Don't forget to have a taste of the cake.

An hour later, this is all that's left of the cake so I guess I'll be
baking another one tonight when the munchkins are asleep.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Some Days Are Diamonds

I swear I'm facing straight on to the camera but my nose appears to be veering left. The bags under the eyes are from 
waiting up all night for a baby to be born. Ah well, you're supposed to be looking at the price of the lens written on the box.

Because Tracey has so much free time (did the sarcasm come across there?) she's taken on studying for a diploma in photography. She started the course two weeks ago and has already completed and passed a third of the modules. We've put her intense focus down to her harnessing her nesting instinct: after the baby comes the remaining 8 modules might take the rest of the year between nappies and feeding, but at least she's off to a great start.

Two nights ago Tracey decided she wanted a macro lens for her camera. No, wanted is wrong: she NEEDED a macro lens for her camera or the sky would fall, the Earth would tilt off it's axis and the basic premise of Zombieland (ie Bill Murray gets killed for bad acting) would become a reality. Well I'm too big of a Bill Murray fan to let that happen.

Dishes, kids and life in general were all pushed aside as we surfed the net for the best lens and prices. In the end Tracey decided on a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro (photographers don't go for fancy, comprehensible names, they like their equipment to have indecipherable mixes of letters & numbers, presumably to add to the mystery), which you can pick up for a lazy $900-1300. Dang. All our money is currently hard working.

And then we saw Harvey Norman had a great 36 month deal going. Cool. We use the deals to buy the bigger stuff we want (need) and then pay it off when our lump sum Centrelink money comes in after we submit our tax returns.

When we arrived at the local Harvey Norman we also discovered they had a Zinc promotion going - there was a jumping castle, petting zoo and free drinks for the kids. Could this day get any better?

Yes. Yes it could.

While they had to order the Canon lens in for us, and it would take up to a month for it to arrive (because, we were told, their Canon rep was on holidays?), they did have some great specials going. There was a special on a Tamron lens, for example, which displayed a discount of $130 giving a buy price of $148. Above it was a Tamron 60mm Macro with a buy price of $499.

I pointed at the Tamron 60mm Macro. "Is that one on special?" I asked the nice girl behind the counter.

"Yes, it's $148."

"No, the Macro lens," I explained to her.

"Yes, it's $148," she said, indicating the sign. "See," she said, pointing out three random matching numbers on the special sign and the Tamron box, "they're the same numbers." Yes, but different order.

"That sign is for a different lens," I explained.

"No, it's for that one," she assured me.

"We'll take it," I assured her.

But we didn't stop there. Usually I'm a believer in 'three strikes, you're out' but there's a part of me which can't knowingly rip someone off. I asked her to go check the price. She went away and came back with the Canon 100mm price.

"No, I meant for you to confirm the price for the Tamron. We don't want to get to the counter and find out you've got the wrong price."

"Here," she said, clearly getting a little tired of us going on and on about this silly price business, "I'll write it on the box." And she did. $148.

When we got to the counter even the guy behind the register raised an eyebrow when he saw $148 written below the $499 recommended retail on the box.

"That's a fantastic price," he told us.

"We know," I told him. "It's unbelievable, isn't it?" I added pointedly.

"It sure is," he agreed. "Cash or card?" At that price? Cash.

When we arrived home, skipping and crowing and high-fiving each other like halfwits, we hit the net again to see if we'd really got the bargain we suspected we had. Best buy on the net? $435 delivered. Putting it in real terms, even at this best buy price of $435, that's a genuine saving of 9 cartons of beer!!

Now the biggest decision will be when the Canon lens arrives whether to keep the Tamron as a backup lens or sell it on eBay for a tidy profit.

Castle Devereaux

Last weekend we got the jumping castle out for the kids, which was a hugely popular idea with everyone: Kids got to jump and slide, Mum got to sip tea on the balcony and Dad got to not mow the lawn. It's hard to do things like mow the lawn when you're on a diet which excludes things like beer. There's just no motivation in beerless lawn mowing.

The castle was their Christmas present from their late Auntie Chriss. We're careful not to pull it out on wet or windy days though. We hope Chriss would have approved of the choice of a jumping castle, especially given his love of fairground attractions, our kids and an inflated sense of fun. We picked it up for a mere $300 from Target. Worst thing is the kids have only used the castle three times and we've already noticed a small leak in one of the stitched corners so we might have to take it back for a replacement. There's a puncture repair kit included in the box, but I don't think it's suitable for repairing inside seams - it's an awkward spot. 

I hate taking things back. I'll usually pick a day I'm at work to demand Tracey returns something.

Once the baby comes we'll be heading down the coast for a day's shopping and an Affogato, so I guess we can make our collective mind up about returning it between now and then. Meanwhile I think I'll pull the castle out again this weekend to see if the leak is getting any worse. 

And so I can avoid the mowing again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Our Indoor Sports Centre

With Summer we've moved the dining table onto the balcony, freeing up the dining room for some family fun.

We've been having great fun with the Foosball Table Santa gave the kids for Christmas: even Miss2 gets in on the act.

I keep getting in trouble for 'accidentally' grabbing the kids' stick, preventing them from stopping me scoring. Outrageous accusations.

Tonight I beat Miss8 10 to 5 in a landslide victory. I realize good fathers are supposed to lose to their kids, but Miss8 makes it very difficult - she scored six of my points in sensational own goals.

As the table converts to a pool table, air hockey and even table tennis table, the kids have been well entertained these holidays. It also has chess and checkers and ten pin bowls. There are ten games all up.

Table cost Santa a mere $120: it was a hot buy on special at BigW. If it breaks in two even six months down the track (a real possibility the way the kids whack it around) it's paid for itself several times over.

Great family fun.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Friends Pop Over

Lovely, wonderful, thoughtful friends of ours made a delivery tonight - cinema popcorn.  Way to make me look neglectful guys ;)

After some Facebook comments on how much Tracey LOVES going to the movies so she can eat popcorn, and how the kids recent refusal to take their mum to the cinema had left Tracey bereft of one of her staple foods, they bought some from the local Sovereign Cinema tonight and drove it over to her.

Pitts, you are serious contenders for the coveted title of Bestest Friends Ever.

Tracey's asked me to pass on a message. "Funkfs fa fah opcoof. Ou gahs roafk!" Which I think translates as 'Thanks for the popcorn. You guys rock!"

My fully preggers missus is now comfortably situated with her feet up in front of the telly watching Swamp People, shoving salty buttered ecstasy into her mouth and eliciting an occasional happy moan.

The bar has definitely been raised people. But don't despair, she also likes Tim Tams, mangoes and Peking Duck. Shops are open until 9.

Capelli's Kid's Class

What a great activity for the kids during the school holidays!

We found out about this because a friend of ours just finished helping the good people at Capelli's to film a piece showcasing what it is all about (see below).

For a small country town, Gympie has a lot going for it: not least a few great places to eat. Local iconic restaurant Capelli's is now offering cooking lessons for kids aged 8+ and I think it's a fantastic idea. Bugger signing them up as contestants on Junior Masterchef, I just want something tastier than thick vegemite on toast for Father's Day breakfast (bless their cotton socks).

The cost is $99 a child, but it goes over two days (lunch for one, dinner for the other) and gives the kids a real confidence boost. Kids can invite guests to the dinner at an additional cost of $27 a head - but after all it's for a three course meal. It's not as cheap as a movie, sure, but they can go to a movie any old day and THIS is a real treat.

Cooking is fun and I love baking cakes and the like with my brood. Fun in the kitchen beats an Xbox or a DS any old day (although Master6 would argue this till he was blue in the face).

I want to get our Miss8 into this in one of the coming school holidays.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Let There Be Tears

"Suckerpunching is fun" pose
Another baby is set to leave the folds of her mother's skirts for the scary (to said mother) halls of prep.

"They change when they go to school," lamented Tracey.

"Butter wouldn't melt in my mouth" pose
Jeez, I hope so. I mean, yes I know there's a certain, sweet innocence which is lost in the bickering and bullying of school life, but watching them learn and grow and test their minds is such a joy on this journey.

But with Miss4, personally I feel sorry for the teacher. Of all our kids, this is the one with bite. If she gives you a teethy grin there's a better than even chance it's only because she's about to take a chunk out of your throat, sweet thing that she is.

Miss4 has also been honing her acting skills these past few years. She is especially good at pretending to be too tired to walk to bed and therefore needs to be carried. These acting skills should help her in the 'I haven't done my homework cause I am so ill' department.

Despite Mummy's reservations, Miss4 is keen to join the school ranks and get her some learnings.

Personally I see it as another step up the steep side of Empty Nester Mountain. If I'm teary they're tears of joy.

She does look super cute though in her traditional 'Mum bought me clothes two sizes too big so I can grow into them about mid year two' prep uniform.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Amusing Herself

Our Miss8 has spent much of the last two days exploring the wet wonders of our rain soaked yard: getting out there in boots with an umbrella and jumping & dancing around and catching rain in a container. For two days. It's almost ridiculously difficult to have her stand under a shower for more than two minutes.

After she's dried off she's also been teaching herself to play her recorder through her nostril. Time well spent, I say. Many a time my lack of nasal-skulling abilities left me without a party trick at university. The nose is an often underrated source of entertainment - although little Miss2 seems to have great fun digging around in hers.

I love this sort of play (the rain I mean, not the nose). It's so much more fulfilling and exciting than a dumb computer game. Instead of hiding the kids inside when it's raining we should encourage them to get wet and dirty. Afterall, the water will wash off when they come inside and have a shower.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I'm losing it

Although the diet is going well there are times when I wonder if it isn't having an effect on my brain as well as my body. I mean, I've been a bit cranky at times. Like when we took the kids to McDonalds and I couldn't eat anything on the menu board and had to pay for a black coffee: that is, a coffee without the frothy stuff which makes it drinkable.

First sign I was going actually going nuts, though, was on Saturday evening when I walked under the shower and momentarily went blind because I still had my glasses on.

But the big pointer to my deteriorating mental capacity was on Saturday night when Tracey and I woke up at about two o'clock because of a noise.

"What was that?" asked my 39 week pregnant wife as she sprang out of bed to investigate.

I, naturally, remained in bed. In fact, even my eyes remained shut.

As she slipped back into bed it occurred to me what the noise was.

"It was a gecko," I told her. That will put her mind as ease.


Maybe I wasn't speaking clearly enough. I was tired and it was the middle of the night.

"It was a gecko," I said loudly and succinctly in her general direction - my eyes still refusing to open. "That sound. It was a gecko."

"What the hell!! Go to sleep!!" she snapped.

This wasn't the 'oh, of course, thanks for clearing that up, darling' response I was expecting. Turns out the reason for her gruffness was she hadn't just jumped back into bed afterall - she'd in fact been back in bed for two hours and it was now four o'clock.

On the bright side, it's good practice for the impending nighttime feedings. I might mention that to her about 3am tonight :)

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