Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Reason #187 to move to Tasmania (are you paying attention, family?). An hour after locking the front door the children are throwing snowballs at each other on top of a mountain, and Mummy is getting a workout hauling children up slopes by the end of a ski pole.

This was Posy's first time on skis.

"I want to go faster. My skis are not fast enough. Get me faster ones."

I am not looking forward to teaching this one to drive.

Skiing is all very well of course, but the real reason you go to the snow is to make Snow Slushies:

Take one glass of snow (mind where you scoop it from). Add a glug of Ribena. Slurp. Bliss.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Leaving Home

So we are no longer a family of homeschoolers. The little birds have flown the nest, and look, it's almost worth it just to see them in school uniform. They are so sweet I could just eat them up. This is their winter uniform, but they started on the first day of school this year. I just have trouble getting all the way to the computer to report things..

First day of school. A minor upset when I wouldn't let Posy take the cat..
Why did I do it? Well, they all wanted to go and try something new. Except Posy, who was very happy being The Princess at home and having me pander to her every loudly expressed whim. I didn't think I could quite live with that and stay sane, but oh, how lucky are we? New neighbours moved next door over the summer, and amongst their four children was a ready-made best friend for Posy. We arranged for them to be in the same class, so they skipped into school hand-in-hand on the first day, and Posy hasn't looked back since.
Do I miss homeschooling? Well, no, actually. Except every morning when I have to get up ridiculously early to shoo them all out into the world accompanied by food and ironed clothes. I quite liked some aspects of homeschooling - the slow peace of long days with the children busy at their job of just being. But that contrasted with the other days where they shouted at each other constantly, slammed doors, kicked things and whined. I liked getting out of bed and slowly finding the pace of the day, instead of leaping out of bed and herding children for an hour and a half (I can't decide whether herding children is worse than herding cats..). I do like it that someone else is responsible for their education and stimulation for many hours in the day, and I find myself more in the position of manager than coach. I like the opportunity to live in my own head for a while each day.
Do the girls like it? Well, it's different for each of them. The Girl is having the hardest time because she is older, and I would have labelled her Most Likely To Succeed at homeschooling. She is quiet and needs lots of time alone to think and reflect. This is a little difficult in the midst of several hundred teenagers, but she is slowly finding her way to oases of calm at school, and learning that perfectionist tendencies need to be curbed when applied to homework in order to carve out some time for herself. She has fabulous teachers who are stretching her very capable mind, and who all think she is lovely.
Rosy and Posy are younger and more flexible, eminently sociable, and think reflecting is for other people. Having said that Rosy has not found any friends who can hold a candle to the dear homeschooling friends she has known, in some cases, all her life. Still, she is a friendly soul, and enjoys having lots going on. For her, school is all about events organisation, and she signs up for everything. She thinks this is lots better than having me in charge of events organisation, because that is not one of the areas I shine at. I am good at suggesting gardening and reading and then I run out of ideas.
Posy has the sweetest teacher in the whole world and they are a mutual admiration society. She has lots of friends and thinks school is wonderful when she is there. The time she thinks school is terrible is 7 o'clock every morning when she has to get up and do horrid things like eat and put clothes on. Dear Posy is not really a morning girl. The status quo is excellent and transitions are Bad.
I sympathise.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Storage Closet to Bedroom

This week's project is to make The Boy's bedroom liveable. Believe it or not, he has been sleeping in here for a year or so, on a mattress on the floor, surrounded by shelves full of books and board games, with a shelf of baskets for his clothes. No wonder he wants to leave home. I figure we are preparing him for share-house life at university. He will be the only one there who thinks that is a step up from home life.
Conversation during acrimonious discussion with sister:
Domestic Goddess: At least you have a room to yourself!
The Boy: I do not have a room, I have a storage closet.
So The Boy started his last year at school today, and I had promised him his room would be ready by now. I should just stop promising things. My first excuse is that The Man isn't here. The Man is often not here. Our relationship is characterised by email and text exchanges such as these:
Me: There is a loose brick in The Boy's fireplace, so I need something like cement or render to fix it before I can paint it. Do we have something like that? How was your flight?
The Man: (from airport lounge)There is maybe some fireplace cement in the big bin next to the air compressor to the right of the shed door. Just follow the instructions. There are still too many fat Americans in the world.
Me: I couldn't find it so I bought some more, seemed to work OK. I figure we can use the same undercoat on the bricks that we put on the walls? The window guy rang back with the quote, does 300 per sash sound too much to you? Posy lost her first tooth and all the guppies died.
The Man: (from hotel room)Well done with the plastering. Don't forget to be the Tooth Fairy. What, did the cats eat them, or was it the plague? That sounds good for the windows, but maybe get another quote? There should be some all purpose undercoat on the shelf under the window. Aaargh the jet lag, possibly dying. Must work...
Me: Poor baby. Do you think semi-gloss would be better on the bricks?
The Man: You decide. Am in bar watching the Superbowl.
Me: What is a Superbowl? Am painting the ceiling.
I know, rivetting. The point is, The Man, being a Real Man, is an excellent handyman, and also a perfectionist. I am not a handy person, or a perfectionist, but I end up doing the painting because I am here. But not very fast at renovating. So, room not done yet. While I paint, here are some Painting Thoughts to keep in mind, sort of a Collected Wisdom of Painting:
When painting the ceiling, do not stand gazing vacantly upwards with your mouth open.
If standing on a platform to paint, make sure you keep track of where your feet are at all times.
Do not let small children help you paint, no matter how heart-rending their pleas.
.........I think that is all

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I've Been Painting, OK?

A couple of days ago Amanda sat in my (new) kitchen telling me about her family's year in France, and her new adventure running a permaculture market garden, and then I got to tell her what I had been doing.
'Well, um, painting really. No really. Just painting.'

Sadly, so true. And as you can see, I don't even stop long enough to brush my daughters' hair. So, painting, and when I need a break from that, stripping paint. Not usually in the same place, except for one memorable evening when it was discovered that I had bought the wrong paint. So you can't paint water-based paint over enamel. I know that. Now. Oh, and the other thing I have been doing. Waiting at home for tradies to turn up. Or not, depending on whether it is their golf day, or whether it rained at their other job.

The excellently good news? I have a new kitchen. It is white and gleaming, and has drawers, actual drawers. People don't tend to believe me when I say I have lived without kitchen drawers for ten years, but it's amazing how much cutlery you can stuff in a wooden box, and tea towels piled in a cardboard box under a mouldy sink can be viewed as charmingly rustic. Really. But now, drawers for everything. And beautiful light, streaming in all day. The girls are painting the kitchen wall, standing where the kitchen sink now is, where I get to look out at my garden and keep an eye on what all the neighbours are up to. I have a new dining room, also drenched in sunlight, and a giant new family table. And we have our living room back. For months everyone crowded onto our bed to read, watch TV and play games. It was like being the old grannies in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And really, sometimes family togetherness can be just too much of a good thing.

And I'm loving the new white walls, which is great, because we picked a colour, bought the biggest can, and are just painting our way around the house with it. Painting, painting... tomorrow is another day. I'll be the one in the back room, with the paint brush..