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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Night terrors

We suffer the night terrors here in Devereauxville. Sleep walking, sleep talking, sleep screaming and sleep snoring (me). We have it all over here.

Nothing unusual about that, you might be thinking. Well, if only it stopped there.

You see, our families have also had episodes like sleep driving and reenacting part of the Mary Poppins 'Spoonful of Sugar' scene: the bit where she's leaning out the window, extending her finger for a robin to perch on.

And now it seems Cousin8 is getting set to take his place alongside the best of us.

The other night he woke screaming and was inconsolable. Apparently he was so loud the neighbours heard him. Considering they live on acreage and these neighbours were over fifty meters away, this was no mean feat.

"Mind you, these were the same people," said Cousin8's father, "who didn't realize their own car's horn was stuck blaring at two in the morning. Not until three neighbours showed up banging on their door."

So he was loud, is where we're going here. And if the neighbours thought he was loud from fifty meters down the road, they should have been in the same house.

We go down this road often, so we know.

It's when they step it up a notch and start doing odd things that it becomes more worrying. Or more funny. It can go either way.

Worrying, for example, was when Tracey went on a tour of Europe and was concerned she was going to sleep walk and wake up lost in a strange country. She actually woke up in heading out her motel door in France because she was in a sleeping bag and tripped.

Along the same lines, Nanny always slept with a tent pole between her legs when she went camping cause she didn't want to wander off into the woods.

So that's the worrying part if things get out of hand.

But it's not all bad. As a teen Tracey was once found kneeling on all fours sleep-barking at her closed bedroom door. Presumably she wanted to be let out for a piddle.

Now that's funny.

In fact, the most worrying thing about this story is what Tracey is going to do to me when she reads I've told everyone in our blog.

It might well be me who wakes up screaming in terror tonight.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Snow job

Tracey insisted on taking the photo in front of our wedding
shots so as to showcase how far I've fallen. I don't care
 how awful it looks - I like my beanie cause it's really warm :)
A friend recently returned from a trip to Lapland, Finland. While dog sledding and, presumably, making snowmen, the temperatures were a balmy -10 degrees. 

While not that low (yet), the temperatures have been tumbling lately, and because we live in the coldest house in G-town (by my wife's estimation) we have pulled out the onesies and the extra blankets. I even found my Canadian Club beanie - Tracey hates it, which makes it extra fun to wear and one of the highlights of the first frosts of winter. 

We found a nice deal at Harvey Norman on the weekend - flannel sheets for the girls room previously marked at $69.95 down to $50, which is nearly 30% off. 

Maybe we should tell the good people of Lapland so they can stock up. There's nothing better than snuggling into flannels when it's cold. 

Or so I thought.

Lapland is home to something like 3% of Finland's population. I mentioned to my mate it's a wonder anyone lives there at all.

He agreed. So much so he thought to ask a local. 

Chatting, through chattering teeth as it turned out, he asked a young Aussie woman who'd settled in Rovaniemi exactly that.

“Why would you want to live here?”

Her answer explains everything except Lapland's meager population.

“In summer, we fish and make love," she told him. It sounds like a great way to live. I eat fish. "In winter," she went on, "we don’t fish.”

I've already got the beanie: I wonder what Finland's immigration policy is like. 

Two sets of discount sheets to help keep the kids cosy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tread cheaply

When buying tyres sometimes, it turns out, it's who you know not what you know.

Tracey called around the local tyre merchants and got some prices. She found the cheapest tyres for our beast of a vehicle were $185 a piece. I just about need smelling salts whenever we price tyres.

Usually we spend around $250 a tyre. Which is what happened this time. A call to our local mechanic, who then called the same tyre merchants we did, came up with a couple of secondhand tyres for $235 which usually go for just over $400 new.

Why would we do this? Well it turns out these secondhand tyres came off a new car which was driven from the car yard to the tyre shop so the rims could be changed.

The tyre still had the 'chalk' lines and the little furry bits sticking out.

So we got a better quality tyre for a little cheaper than we usually like to pay.

Like I say, with tyres it's not who you know - it's who the people you know, know.

Monday, May 28, 2012

His name is Prince. And he was funky.

We met up with Mel & Josh. Josh got to take the photo.
Because we have the best families in the entire world, who gave up their Saturday night to baby sit our kids, we were able to sneak away to Brisbane for a Prince concert.

And what a concert! That man knows how to party. I even busted out a few moves (it was dark, no one saw).

Having dumped the kids and run away, we ended up having dinner in a fantastic little sushi train at Carseldine. What I love about sushi is it's basically Japanese tapas. I could have gone home then, it was that good. But the best was still to come.

Because we know what we're like with time management, Tracey and I planned to arrive at the Boondall Entertainment Centre about an hour before the concert. Thank goodness, because we needed it. When we arrived we quickly parked and joined a growing line of punters near the steps.

"This is new," I mumbled. An overhead voice boomed we were about to be searched for guns, knives, chains and cameras. Presumably they'd also have balked at knuckle-busters and nun-chucks.

"No worries," I thought to myself. "After the kerfuffle at the Dolly concert we're not making that mistake again." Who gets kicked out of a Dolly concert? My wife does.  For filming the event. But she'd promised me she wouldn't bring a camera to this one.

"Uh-oh," said Tracey when we were about five meters from the front of the line. She pulled the kids' camera out of her bag. "I forgot about this."

So we got to line up over at the cloak room tent as well where, by listening in to other people's conversations with the security staff, we learned two things. Firstly, they weren't really worried about weapons, but more the cameras. Apparently, Prince didn't appreciate everyone filming him the previous week. Dolly has the same issues. Secondly, after the show the line at the cloak tent would be HUGE, so we'd be better served racing back to our car with the camera.

I looked in the tent. There were six bags lined up to one side. But then we were very early. For us.

While Tracey went forward to collect our tickets I returned to the car. "Meet you in the lobby!" I called back to her, which she heard as, "Meet you at the bar!" Easy mistake. Could happen to any old soak.

Later, after a second turn in the 'search' line, we were having drinks with friends, Josh & Mel, when I noticed they had binoculars. I looked at Tracey.

"Uh-oh," she said. "We left them in the car."

Prince was just walking onto the stage as I arrived back at the lobby. Fortunately the 'search' line was much shorter the third time I went through it, probably because everyone was inside at their seats.

Next time we're arriving an hour and half before the concert.

Not that we'll be needing to run back to the car quite as often - after the concert the line to the cloak tent was a whole two people deep. I've a hunch the security guard had a date after work.

A wonderful date night, and one I hope we repeat soon. I've heard George Michael is coming at the end of the year. Who'd have ever thought the eighties would be cool again :)

Fresh Spin

Miss2 was patting her big sister today. Or so she was insisting as she followed Miss5 around saying, "Pat! Pat! Pat!" every time she whacked her with a bat.

Being able to get your point of view across and communicate your opinion is important. Our oldest was a bit of a wiz at public speaking at school, and even now it serves him well - he's somehow managed to talk his way into a relationship with a beautiful young lady we're very fond of. Master20 says whenever they go out in Brisbane some bloke will inevitably look at her and then size him up and say, "She's with you? How the hell did that happen?"

Spin is something parents do all the time: "If you eat your crusts you'll have curly hair." Mind you, this only works if your kids actually want curly hair. Similarly, "Eat carrots so you can see in the dark," has limited power.

Not that we have much trouble getting our mob to eat: it's harder keeping them out of the fridge. But sometimes they take offence to something on their plate. I will point out when this happens I've found, "Shut your mouth and eat your food" just causes confusion - tends to end up with kids (lead by Tracey) trying to shove spoonfuls of food through pursed lips and ending up with food all over their faces.

Or maybe if they don't finish their dinner I should just reach for Miss2's bat to 'pat' their bums. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My first Country Update magazine contribution

In March, Denise Torenbeek asked me to review artist Allan Caswell  for her Country Update magazine. She couldn't have found a better fit for me because he's written an album of kids songs and I have a hoard of them racing around the house making a mess. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found Allan to be a genuinely entertaining bloke. His kids' CD was pretty damn good too. You would probably recognize many of the songs because he wrote a lot of them with Playschool's Don Spencer, who has previously released them on his own CD's. Even I've heard of Bob The Kelpie.

"Sheep are cute, sheep are beaut
Sheep are soft and curly
When I take them into town
I have to start out early
Cause they never go the way I want
So I need someone to help me
I just give a whistle
And I call for Bob the kelpie"

I'm really chuffed to be included in such a fantastic magazine. It sounds a bit girly, but I may have squealed when Denise dropped a copy of the mag into my office. I'm telling myself I gave a happy chortle, but my memory is shaking it's head disbelievingly.

If you're into country music, it's worth a read. Especially the piece on page 38 :) Country Update Website

Issue 65 of Country Update goes on sale from 1st June in all good newsagencies. Or you can subscribe and never miss an issue.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bags Packed

In preparation for our big 'date night' tomorrow night, we have been organizing the farming out (read as 'dumping') of our smaller children. One for Nanny, two for Grandma, one for Auntie Bel & Uncle Jason and one (Miss0) for Auntie Shell & Uncle Shane's in Brisbane.

Having one person take on the lot is a big ask. We prefer to hand them out in small manageable doses. Otherwise we might burn our bridges.

Tomorrow night we're off to enjoy the concert :) Or a least, I'll be enjoying the concert while Tracey worries and pines and considers leaving early. I can't wait. With luck we'll fit in some sushi or yum cha as well.

Although it's only for one night, and we're coming straight home after the concert with Miss0, it's going to be a real treat.

Because there's a sleepover involved, the kids have also been super excited about the whole thing, to the point where they've packed their own bags - although some are better at it than others.

"I'm ready, Mummy," announced Miss5, standing beside two suitcases. I can understand her excitement - Grandad has been known to give out Chuppa Chups for breakfast. Well they're strawberry & cream, which are sort of breakfasty.

Tracey peaked inside the open cupboard - nothing but coat hangers. Miss5 had packed her entire wardrobe.

I don't know how long Miss5 thinks she's going to Grandma's for, but I suspect she's going to be hell disappointed on Sunday.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


The main trouble with Daycare, or work for that matter, is you chance missing those magic first moments - the first smile, first roll, first projectile vomit.

Back when Master20 and Miss17 were at Daycare we'd arrive to pick them up after work, only to be told all the fantastic new stuff they'd started doing that day.

"That's great," I'd lie as I shepherded my devastated wife out to the car. "Thanks for telling us," I'd say through a fake smile. It really made the whole experience rather horrible - like there isn't enough guilt involved in leaving your child at a centre and going off to work.

My pet hate was when we'd arrive and announce our kid had stood for the first time and they'd say, "She's been doing that for days!" It would really leave a nasty taste.

But these days Daycare Centres seem to understand this sort of situation much better. Actually they're really, really good at not noticing the firsts. Or at least not  mentioning them.

Which I suspect is why Tracey knows categorically and without any doubt she has been there for the first of everything with the next four babies. She's seen their first smiles, heard their first chuckles and, of course, witnessed their first rolls.

I haven't been quite so lucky.

"She's rolled over!" she'll declare gleefully to me over the phone. Not that I'm surprised she sees these things like a baby rolling over for the first time - in the past she's spent an inordinate amount of time lying on the floor with the babies training them to do it.

"That's great," I'll say. "Try get it on film for me." (I say things like 'film' because I'm a child of the eighties).

And like her older siblings, Miss0 has been put through her paces lately here in Camp Devereaux.

"I'll just give you some tummy time," Tracey will coo, and then show her how to roll over.

Even when I think I see a first I'm often wrong.

"Tracey! Quick! She smiled!" I recently called out to my wife.

"Oh she did that earlier," she called back. "Isn't it beautiful!" Tracey loves these wonderful moments.

So when Miss0 rolled tonight for the first time while Tracey was at the shops I knew exactly what to do.

Personally, I don't want them to roll too soon. Rolling is the first step on the way to crawling and the last thing I want is a baby scooting around under my feet. I'm always nervous until they can stand and therefore jump out of my way because I tend to walk around the house with my head in a book. But I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"She rolled!!" I called into the phone. "She rolled over for the first time!!!"

It took seven kids, but I finally got my first first :) Projectile vomits aside.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The importance of asking the right question

'How many beers did I drink last night?' I thought to myself through a keg-sized headache in the wee hours of last night.

It was the wrong question. Besides, I only drank three light stubbies. This was more a sinus headache.

I dragged myself out of bed and made my way to the kitchen. It actually hurt to open my eyes so I could see where I was going.

"Where the hell are the painkillers?" I mumbled, pulling out our medicine boxes from above the fridge.

Again, it was the wrong question.

After the third box I finally found four sinus tablets, although I only had the night time tablets left.

'Should I take one or two?' I thought through a thumping wave of pain.

Wrong question.

I downed two tablets and settled back to bed. As my head hit the pillow I heard birds twittering outside my window and noticed the rumble of a few cars passing on the road outside.

Which was when the question I should have been asking all along occurred to me.

'What time is it?'

Turns out it wasn't about 1am, like I thought, but rather the dawn side of 6am. Within minutes the dark started to dissipate. So it turned out I took two (essentially) sleeping tablets just as I was about to get dressed and go to work.

While my body went through the motions today, my brain didn't snap awake until closer to 2 this afternoon.

Let's just say it was a long, foggy day - but at least my headache was gone.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A tissue, a tissue

 Miss8 &  Master7  in the wonderfully festy hamster balls

A big positive for going to the show every year is the opportunity for our kids to catch the latest assortment of colds and flues - preferably all at the same time so the sleepless nights and bucket duties are confined to a couple of weeks instead of a couple of months.

This year, rather brilliantly, there was a new 'ride' for the kids: inflatable plastic balls. We waited until the second night to make sure they were good and full of sneezed up bugs, then we shoved them in.

Then we put them in a second time for good measure.

And we've done it! The show has been a HUGE success - already we've had three kids down with a wog and another of them is on the fringe. There are buckets and Tupperware bowls all over the house, and temperatures are soaring despite the nip in the air. Fortunately, to help keep them occupied, they've got their showbags full of goodies to play with, so everyone's happy.

Snotty noses are a truly beautiful thing. This week. Next week I won't be quite as chipper.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

For a spell

"Okay kids," I snapped, "the place is finally tidy and Mum's having a nap. I want you to play quietly and keep things neat for her." I knew I had no chance, but throwing it out there makes me feel like I tried.

"Dad, you know what will be quiet and won't make a mess?" asked Master7 eagerly.

"Let's see. Knowing you, it's got two letters - I'm guessing the first one is a D and the second one is an S. Am I right?"

"Maybe," he grinned at me. Master7 can't get enough of his DS console. We make sure of that.

"Well, my answer has two letters," I told him. "Can you guess what they are?"

"Umm, N and O?"

"That's right. Now go outside and play."

"I've got two letters for you, Dad," he called back over his shoulder. "O and K."

I wanted to say I had two letters for him, P + O, but I held it in. Good parenting is all about restraint. Besides, he was long gone.

"It's showtime!"

This year, because of some lucky timing, I was able to tell the kids my birthday was declared a public holiday and Gympie was putting on fireworks and monster trucks and getting in lots of rides to celebrate. They were very impressed.

Another fantastic show this year - kids loved the trampolines, bubbles, teacups and jumping castle. 

The local annual show is a great family experience, but more importantly it's a chance for us to pick up all the new bugs going around and getting as many of this year's batch of colds and flues out of the way as we can. With luck, the kids will all get sick at the same time.

Birthday-wise, it was great. Lots of junk food and things to see and do. Because of all the excitement and busy schedule, and because I'm exhausted, I decided I wasn't writing much this weekend.

But here's a visual diary of a wonderful couple of days -

Looking good. Starting to see why I don't
see any action first thing in the morning.
Headphones & glasses were added by Miss2 -
probably trying to bling me up.
The birthday snuggle :) 

First things first - above photo is me standing around the McCafe van waiting for them to notice me so I can order a coffee. Photos directly below are after I've had my morning coffee. Only fifteen minutes or so of time has passed, but as you can see, the difference is palpable. 

Master7, who states he isn't afraid of heights but rather of falling & hurting himself when he smashes into the ground, would moan as the mini Ferris Wheel went up, reaching a loud bellowing peak at the top and slowly grow quieter on the way down, only to do it again as it went back up again. For five minutes all we could hear, standing below, was, "iiiiieeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaa-AAAAAA!!!!AAAAA-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeiii -iiiiieeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-AAAAA!!!!AAAAAAA- aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeiiii -iiiieeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa -AAAAA!!!!AAA- aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeiiii -iiiieeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ..." And then he says he wants to go on the BIG Ferris Wheel! Not on your life.

Miss8, Miss5 & Master7 answering that age old question:
"If your sister told you to jump off a cliff, would you?"

Trampolines cost us a sizable $60 (3 kids, two goes each). The carnie sent Miss5 up into the stratosphere, after which she admonished him loudly and demanded a far more sedate height (about my head height - I don't think the bungy-type ropes would have registered any use).

The highlight for Miss8 & Master7 were the inflated balls. We saw them as a fantastic way for the kids to
pick up all those hard to find bugs.

Miss5 about to freak out as they inflated her ball. 
After the trauma of the (half) inflated ball, Miss5
took a (sulky) spin on the Merry-go-round. 

No fireworks photos this year because, thanks to Miss2 & Miss5, we didn't get to see them. We did get to hear them though, from the inside of a DB shed in machinery alley, where we huddled with our two trembling little girls. I must say, the fireworks did sound stunning. Oh, well.

I'm already excited about next year :) Gympie will certainly have to come up with something special to top this birthday.

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