Cupcakes and goldfish

Today is the day of Chippie’s actual birthday.

I could go into all manner of gushy blah, about how it was the most awesome experience and how much he has changed our world and [insert any other of the hundred million cliches about childbirth here] but there were cupcake to be baked, iced and eaten.

Also, the usual Monday evening affairs, from the cooking of dinner and music and swimming lessons and trying not to yell at the kids again.

Et cetera …

Despite not wanting to, I had baked some sixty cupcakes last evening.

Today, they required icing, so I popped into the school first thing to confirm the time they were needed. Generally, it is around 3.25p.m. however, today they requested it for 1.25p.m.

Lucky I checked, because I’d have just turned up and been really annoyed that I had 60 cupcakes and the kids were all at assembly!

I not only managed to ice them all without incident, and, for the first time ever, without getting any icing on either of my breasts or pants, shoved the remaining lollies I had leftover from the weekend on top, and delivered them to school, just as the rain started to come down like I haven’t seen for some time.

In keeping with the healthy eating policy of the school, the icing was gluten free; although, to be honest, that was unintentional. It just so happened that I noticed the gluten free information on the half-pack I had in my possession. I also suspect that icing is mostly gluten free, anyway, and it was put on there because That’s Just What Marketing Companies Do with whatever the latest health fad is.

(Again, no disrespect to genuine gluten-free-requiring people.)

I also ensured there was an abundance of fruit and green leafies adorning the cupcakes.

Again, more of a coincidence than good planning – it just so happened that I had purchased a pack or two of Party Lollies for the weekend and promptly forgot about them. It also just so happens that there were lots of fruit based lollies in said pack and … well, it all worked out for the best really.

cupcakes

Okay, they may also have featured the odd baby and a dinosaur or two. But it was mostly fruit and leafy stuff.

The signing and cake distribution done, it was off to the pet shop to purchase Chippie’s birthday present; the much coveted goldfish and also if I could buy him a giant T-Rex please?

I bought a fish tank with a T-Rex theme, and five fish; two gold and three teensy little fish and had loads of fun setting it up and decided I’d really prefer to keep it myself because I like fish.

I did find myself sitting and just watching for … I have no idea how long. They just relax me and I could watch them for quite some time.

His arrival home was marked by much, much tantrum as he ascended the stairs, only to be stopped mid “I don’t want to upack my lu ….” when he saw the large, wrapped gift. It was pretty much the box with a few, minor fish tank related items in it.

I do like fucking with my kids heads like that. It’s fun.

A large box, a small net and a gravel cleaning thingo. Oh, and a small thing of fish food.

He was unsure what to make of it, but smiled and appeared delighted like the polite child he can be at times.

His eyes, however, lit up at the sight of the rest of his pressie and he was very happy.

We both sat, quietly, and just watched. It was nice.

Then we ate cupcakes …

 

Birthday. Again.

Sometimes, I feel like all I do is birthdays.

No, that’s not entirely true. It’s that I insist on having several parties for each child and it simply adds up.

Anyhoo, after two or so months of crazy moving chaos, and still enduring trips to Ikea and Bunnings and Spotlight to overwhelm ourselves entirely and then attempt to put stuff together, I decided Chippie needed to have his birthday party sooner rather than later.

Yes, yes, I know. I don’t actually have to host parties. They don’t actually have to have a party, much less two each.

Except, well, except they do.

Because I have a pathological love of parties and even when I have very stern words to myself about them not actually needing, as in matter-0f-life-or-death if they don’t have one and ‘they’ll get over it’ and ‘we’ll have a cake at home and that’ll be adequate’ and all those other sensible things, a little voice in my head pops up and says “But … but … party” and my resolve collapses and before you know it there’s fucking chocolate ganache all over the kitchen floor, cakes in tins over every available surface in the kitchen and I’m frantically trying to find candles, only to run out at the last minute to by another pack of eight … no, wait, I better get twelve … no, hang on, I’ll just get the pack of 24 cos I’ll need them for the next party I’m not having … and then I grab two packs, and get home and the 807 candles I have purchased over the last two years under the same circumstances miraculously appear …

So, yes, we have parties. A kids/friends party, and then the family. Usually over two days, but being realistic this year, I opted for one after the other.

Having been requested to make a Volcano Cake, I looked blankly for a bit before Grumpy made a very sensible suggestion, followed by Chippie providing explicit details about how this cake is to look; dinosaurs stuck in mud, lots of lava and if it could be erupting, that’d be great.

Oh, and the cake had to be chocolate inside.

Well, duh.

“I’ll make a mud cake,” I tell Chippie of the impending birthday.

He gives me a blank look. Then frowns a little. Then says “No!”

Am a little taken aback, for two reasons. One, I like my mud cake. Like, I really, really like it.

Secondly, there are two kind of cake I make; butter cake and mud cake. I don’t want butter cake cos it is boring, and if I can’t do mud, well, basically, we’re fucked and there is no cake.

“Make it chocolate inside. But don’ put mud in it,” he instructs.

Ah, right … now I’m on the same page.

I make a double mix of mud cake recipe, and divide it between the two tins.

As it’s cooking, I’m being given a load of further instructions. There are to be bones in the cake. Also, lava bursting out of the cake. And fire balls. Lots of fire balls, exploding up into the air.

“Um ….” I say and am torn between loving that he thinks I’m so freaking wonderful, and terrified that I’m going to fuck him up for life (or, you know, fuck him up even more) because I am so not that freaking wonderful and will let him down.

I learnt a loooong time ago to let go of the perfection with the making of cakes, do as much as I can do with the skills I have (limited) and just enjoy the process. Most times, I come out ahead. Most times.

I make some orange jelly, which is no where near enough.

I open the pack of dinosaur lollies, to give myself some fuel to complete my construction. I notice there are some white dinosaur lollies in there, and moosh a few into the top of the bottom cake, figuring they can be the bones he has asked for.

Fuck! I think to myself. I am fucking awesome, and don’t even realise it!

I set about making some ganache, which I have now mastered. To be clear, it’s my own, specially defined level of mastery. For me, it is ‘mastered’. For others, maybe not so much. Also, shut up.

I put it in the fridge to cool a little, and drop the spatula, coating the fridge, floor and wall in ganache. I swear. A lot.

Then get impatient and pour slightly runny ganache all over the cake, realise I don’t have enough, and have to make some more. This requires a trip to the supermarket, which I do before school pickup, then am left with the dilemma of having both cream and chocolate sitting in the boot of the car until the kids get their shit together.

Home. Ganache some more, manage not to spill any, shove some more white dinosaurs under the gap at the bottom of the cake, and pour the rest of the ganache over the cake, and it is perfect. So much ganache, the smell is almost sickening. Can’t wait to eat it!

I shove a couple of dinosaurs into the mud, use the bits of ganache that have splattered around the cake board to stick other dinosaurs on, then get adventurous and make trees.

I have no idea what happened. I guess I got carried away, inspired by my stroke of brilliance at the whole ‘bones’ thing …

Chippie comes home from school, delighted, and I go out to see a movie with a friend.

So, this morning, I needed to add some lava to the cake, as well as, apparently, a river, some rocks, a dinosaur at the top and an explanation as to why the red stegosaurus was stuck in the mud. I did none of these things.

His friends arrived, we took them to a park to run around, but they whinged and complained instead.

I created the ‘eruption’ via the use of sparklers, which was a huge hit, but did not create the fire balls that were requested.

Another unexpected stroke of genius, when we realised we could take the top cake off to serve up to the kids and save the bottom half for the family when they arrived.

Hurrah!

I’m brilliant.

I also swore, yet again, that I was not ever going to have another kids’ birthday party in the house … how many times is that I’ve said the same thing now ….?

Anyhoo, birthday parties over, ganache has been licked off the floor and we’ll be eating rich mud cake with too much ganache and dinosaur lollies for dinner for the next week.

I just have to get through the actual birthday now.

Parent Helper

Tonight was the primary school, whole school concert.

It’s been in the planning for months and months and the teachers, quite frankly, look like they’re in need of a good vodka or 37.

Being a small school with vast diversity within the student body, they really do like to make things as simple as possible for we parents. Costumes  - or, at least the costumes I had to contend with – were derived from the backs of wardrobes, and searching through sibling’s drawers to find suitable, required attire.

T’was easy. Even fnding black shorts for the little one for his costume was more of a ‘random luck’ than actual effort as there they were, hanging on the heavily discounted stuff rack out the front of Kmart.

Bonus.

Having done rather little in terms of helping out with the concert, I put my hand up as one of the Parent Helpers to walk with some 48 kids to the venue in order that they participate in a full rehearsal (not dress) before the actual concert.

I, and a few other parents whom also volunteered, sat in the classroom until it was our turn to leave. Engrossed in a conversation with another, fabulous mum and friend of mine, we glance up and discover that the youngest group within the wider group have disappeared.

Given both of us have children within that particular group, we figured we’d best be finding out what was going on.

“Have they gone already?” I ask of one of the teachers.

She responds by doubling over laughing.

Apparently, it had been suggested that they go for a wee before we head off and were returning promptly.

She suggested that perhaps we don’t talk when the teachers are talking and was perhaps wondering if she shouldn’t have better reinforced the need for Responsible Parents to attend the walk.

We all made it to the venue, unscathed, although they did almost lose a parent. Me. I think they may have been trying, though.

I organised my day, and planned the evening, as we still had music lessons after school, before the concert, and some tight time frames to work with. I ensure the constumers were collated and placed in the same spot so we would remember them, and communicated with Grumpy Pants the actions for the evening, and times everything was to be occuring.

Thankfully, he arrived home in time to chauffeur us to music lessons, immediately after we’d shoved some dinnerlike food in our faces.

Costumes collected, the instructions to deal with the fabric paint on the front of Chippie’s shirt fluttered to the floor, and I was standing at the bin, attempting to rip seriously adhered newspaper from the inside of said shirt, whilst yelling at them to hurry the fuck up and get in the car so we wouldn’t be late.

Argh!

Additional snacks were packed for the period between music lessons and delivery to the concert and another bout of telling Monkey Boy that he was bloody going, and he would bloody enjoy it whether he liked it or not and to please SHUT UP! was had.

More chauffeuring was done, with a variety of pick ups and drops offs and culminating in the agreement that we’d meet at a wine bar before the concert started.

Despite a few hiccups, and extraordinarily low budget, it was a great show. Funny. Creative. Terribly lacking in decent talent (although there was also some very good talent) … exactly as a kids’ school concert should be. No professional lighting and singing and acting tuition.

Just fun. And funny. Party because it was funny, and partly because of the few, minor, goings wrong. Brilliant!

Home, exhausted and really proud of how my two kids performed.

Actually, I was pretty proud and impressed with everyone involved.

It was good, even despite the involvement of some dubiously-responsibilitied parents …

Poor Old Sausage

Our recent move has been a bit of an upheaval for everyone, as, I’m sure, is fairly well standard.

That’s not a complaint … it’s just an Is.

We’ve slowly been settling ourselves in, redoing the pantry some 37 times, hosting a Tuppeware party so I can redo the pantry again and hopefully have it Just As I Like by the end of the month.

One of our biggest challenges with the move has been the Stupid Cats.

Over the last 17 years we’ve had a plethora of cats. When we moved in together, the Grumpy Pants and I, we had – or, rather, he had – two large dogs and a cat called Dimmy (yes, as in short for Dim Sim).

Not long after, because he is a pet person, both dogs and cats, and I am more a goldfish and Blob of Cake Dough pet kind of person, we obtained a brand new kitten from the vet. She and her siblings had been dumped, so she was a mere 4 or 5 weeks old when we got her.

She was promptly named Sausage.

A few years after that, we obtained another adoptee, whom we named Muffin, and it was quite a few months, possibly even a year or more, before we drove up the drive way one day and found two identical cats eating from the cat food bowl. On closer inspection, this stray cat was only slightly smaller, with barely discernible differences in marking to Muffin.

She was also a very, very nice cat, the nicest of the lot, and because she looked so much like Muffin, she was dubbed Cupcake.

I’m now starting to sound a little like a cat lady.

Dimmy, sadly, passed away at the age of 18, Cupcake had four kittens, one of which remained in our family, and was named Pants, because he looked like he was wearing pyjama pants, such was his colouring.

His full name, really, was Tim Tam Pyjama Pants, but we called him Pants for short.

Moving house, Muffin did a runner and never returned, although we looked and looked for her. Our hope is that she went to live with a nice family who cuddled her often.

Sausage, Cupcake and Pants remained in our family and made the move before this last one with us.

Sausage was turning into a crotchety old crank, and had never, really, been one for pats or cuddles or sitting quietly on your lap. In fact, I think we had more incidents requiring bandaids due to children attempting to pat Sausage than for any other reason. She didn’t mean to be mean, she just never learnt to play nice; I suspect because of her age when she was separated from her mother and siblings (she went into the vets, initially, without a mum, so I have no idea how long the kittens had been motherless) and her reaction from even that young was to roll over and gnaw at your hand.

This was totally adorable when she was a kitten, but not so much when she became and adult.

Cupcake, the lovely, placid cat, who would allow two-year-old Chippie to hoist her out from under the house by her tail and not react at all, contracted cancer in her face and had to be put down last year. A sad time for us all. She was beautiful.

Sausage and Pants made this last move, and the difficultly was in finding them a place. They have never been indoor cats, aside from the dog kennel we obtained for them, which they would sleep in. Unable to run, jump, or escape, Sausage was content to sit in patches of sun, and bite your hand off if you tried to pat her as she reposed.

Like our last move, Pants soon went into hiding. Last move, he was gone for a good 8 weeks, before making a reappearance, looking rather well and not at all like a cat who had been in hiding for two months. I suspect he may soon return.

Meanwhile, Sausage was content, being fed and spoken to, but not pat, crawling into her house at night and sleeping.

Which is where we found her last night.

Sleeping so peacefully that she had stopped breathing and was no longer with us. She looked very much like she had simply had enough of life and went very peacefully, snug in her little house, on her mattress.

Tears were shed, a candle was lit and we farewelled our cranky, yet long term family member.

Poor Old Sausage … we will miss you x

A Spark of Light on Depresson

I tend not to make too much comment on whatever the latest celebrity related news is doing the rounds. I feel it’s a little like jumping on the ‘click bait’ bandwagon, writing a blog post on a topic that seemingly everyone else is writing about at the same time.

However, I cannot let this one go right now, for I am deeply saddned by the loss of actor, Robyn Williams.

Not least because of his tragic end, and my understanding of the deep depression he was experiencing.

Not, also, because of hearing the ‘suicide is so selfish’ rhetoric, nor the ‘I just don’t understand why someone would do that’ mutterings.

How could someone, so happy, so successful, with so much money and support and access to whatever he wanted succumb to this insidiuous disease?

I think this is one of the great misconceptions about depression. No matter who you are, where you live, your income, your lifestyle, and whether or not you are doing the thing you most love in the world or not, or whether you are surrounded by the most loving, supportive, happy people in your life, or not, Depression is still a disease that infiltrates your mind, your body, your spirit, and your entire life.

It is, and I know this will offend some and I will preface this with the most humble of apologies if it does offend, for it is not inteded to … it is like other debiltating and/or terminal diseases.

It is, for want of a better term, like a cancer of the mind and soul. The difference is, it doesn’t always present itself as a physical ailment, nor give of physical signs of its presence.

It is still a terminal disease for many, and the fatalities are much less understood by most.

Okay, we don’t understand they ‘why’ of cancers, or heart diesease, or other known fatal illnesses, as in “why is this happening to me/them/her/him” … and we don’t understand the ‘why’ someone gets depression.

Part of this, I believe, is due to our perceptions of the disease … as though it is entirely environmental or circumstantial and you can’t have it if you are perceived to having everything you want.

That’s the thing with perceptions, too, isn’t it? It is one person’s pereception about another, and Person One thinking Person Two has it all. Person two is living the life, the reality of the life and all that goes with it, constantly, 24-7, all day, every day … their life is there with them.
Person One only ever sees what is presented to them, whether via celebrity gossip magazines, or Facebook status updates and small chats in the school playground at drop off time. Not only do they see this limited insight into another person’s life, they then put their own spin, their own beliefs, values and their own perception on it.

It’s not ‘real’, really. It’s just a version.

For one in four people at any given time, Depression is there, in their life, along for the ride.
Although so sad at hearing the news, and at the loss of a great actor in itself, a spark of light, an epihpany, a revelation hit me as I sat in my car, hand on my heart, a billion thoughts going through my mind.
We see Depression as the person, not an illness within the person. The kind of misconceptions that have us think “oh, they’re depressed” and, the unspoken, “therefore, they are incapable”.

Depression is not the person. The person is one who is full of dreams and hopes, and that you can still acheive those things, to follow your dreams, to do what you love, despite having an illness like this.

Robyn Williams, for me, was the epitome of this. John Cleese and Stephen Fry are others.

The happy face, the comedic persona both on and off screen, are not necessarily masks, but the version of the person they really are.

They are examples, and an inspriation to me, that the Demons can be fought off and overcome … actually, no, I don’t like that term. The Demons are rarely slayed or overcome. Instead, they are lurking in the shadows, ignored, neglected, placed high on a shelf for periods of time, and the person – not the Depression – is seen.

Regardless of they happy, the contented life, or the dreams followed, those Demons are still there to some degree, and will be feeding off those parts of life that are not so great.

Being a successful, disgustingly rich, acclaimed and much loved actor does not stop the voices of Depression, the self doubt, the self deprecation, nor real life from occuring. Actors are faced with a disgusting lack of privacy – sure they get paid bucketloads for it, but this doesn’t make snide comments, constant monitoring, and hurtful tabloid reports any easier.

It may mean the can send someone to punch a journalist in the face, but it doesn’t make the comments and thoughts that feed the Demon any less significant.

Actors and other celebrities still face a multitude of life issues the rest of us face; they have parents or children or close friends experiencing severe illness or death, they lose their car keys, and can’t remember what they walked into a room for.

They are still people, and they are no less affected by Depression than ‘the rest of us’. Sadly, in many cases, they have the means to assuage their Depression with drugs and alcohol and other vices that are of no benefit to themselves and of great benefit to the power of their Depression.

They are overcome.

What Robyn Williams has taught me is that you can follow your dreams, you can be so uninhibitedly you, because of or despite your Depression – which one you choose is a matter of personal opinion and circumstance.

He showed me that you are not your Depression, and that Depression is one of the many facets of your hugely, multifaceted being.

I don’t want this to sound all “think positive and you’ll cure yourself of depression” kind of wank, nor even imply that it is easy, or that even in your times of being YOU that your depression will simply vanish.

Even as you smile, entertain your toddler or the world, and exude enough light and happiness to make others laugh, the Depression is still there, and, for some, always will be.

The voices will be telling you how crap you are, as you confidently go about doing the thing you love, self-doubt will big clutching at your heart, and the insidious black thoughts working their way through your mind.

The degree of their presence may vary from moment to moment, day to day, or week to week …

You, however, are not your Depression, and I now fully understand that I am not mine and never have been.

I am a person filled with love, hopes, and dreams who also happens to have an illness that you cannot see, because it does not manifest physically, and more often than not, I choose to show Me to the world, and not my illness.

Thank you, Robyn Williams, for the lifetime of laughs, quotes for me to use on my kids, and for being so unequivocally you.

You will be greatly missed.

sparkofmadness

Cultivating Positivity in the Home

As one would expect, homelife has been somewhat stressful. Strains and stressors are coming from all directions, tempers are easily lost and located some hours, if not days later, at the bottom of a wine bottle.

I suspect a more significant amount of calm may be located in the spirits cupboard. This, however, is blocked by a big arse photo frame and I am frantically attempting to sort through photos, locate the ones I thought I lost, then thought I found again, but appear to have misplaced (or lost) when my hard drive died a few years back.

Fuckery!

Also, note to self, sort the fucking photos the moment you upload them to the computer, for fuck’s sake. I have no idea which voice in my head said “Nah, she’ll be right. Do it later!” As a result, My Pictures folder is telling me there is 33,000+ photos to sort. I know this is not a correct figure, as I have since found that some folders have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled up.

I did wake this morning, screaming into my pillow, however. That was a result of Asking For Help. Yet another one of my brilliantly stupid ideas.

Thus, positivity is waning a little. Well, let me rephrase. Grumpy, whilst generally a happy, irreverent, funny old bastard, who has a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and constantly able to get away with being revoltingly inappropriate, is always slightly on the negative anyway. It’s just a little worse, and he’s a little more intolerant of late.

Then there is the thirteen-year-old who is, well, thirteen, and aren’t they delightful little rays of sunshine to be around?!

Both smartarses in their own right, they have been at each other. Most of it is funny, but it is wearing me down. I’m happy and content right now, although the demons that are the killers of my self confidence and happiness are circling about. I am trying to keep them at bay and, to be honest, the negativity, even said in jest, is making the fight a little harder.

As we sat at dinner this evening, the two of them started what can only be described as a Smart Arse Comment War, waged against each other.

I slammed my fork down, pointed my finger at the thirteen-year-old and said “YOU! I’m sick of this negative bullshit. Stop it NOW! Find something you like and comment on that instead of always finding the negative in everyone and everything. I’m over it! I want some positivity!”

Barely pausing for breath, I pointed at the smirking old one, and said “YOU TOO! You’re just as bad, stop it, stop it now! I can’t do this anymore!”

In typical Grumpy Pants fashion, he checked over his shoulders to see who I was pointing at. Obviously, it couldn’t possibly have been him.

I sigh, and calm down slightly, bringing the tone of my voice towards some sort of calm version and repeat.

“Seriously, guys. It’s dragging me down. I just need to hear nice things instead of all the hates and bad stuff all the time. Please? Just say something nice.”

The look suitably chastised and Monkey Boy puts his arm around his father and says “Dad,”

“Yes, son,” replies Grumpy Pants, clearly making a complete mockery of the situation.

“I really like it when you look over your shoulder and pretend Mum isn’t talking to you,” Monkey Boy says.

And they laugh and laugh and laugh …

As did I.

Bastards!

Friend? Or Evil Psychopathic Overlord?

I did have a moment of panic a few days ago, after feeding Herman the German Friendship Cake his first feed on day four.

He didn’t look terribly, well, vivacious or energetic. His bubbling had come to a standstill, and the instructions explicitly stated that if he stopped bubbling, he was dead.

Still, I’m a bit of a ‘wait and see’ kind of person, and figured if I just covered it up and pretended everything was okay and that I hadn’t really killed it, then all would be well with the world.

Denial can be handy at times.

Also – I killed a frigging blob of cake mix. Yay, me!

Surely there’s an award for that somewhere?

I did gather enough courage to check him out later that day and – phew! – despite my attempts, he had survived. A miracle!

We both make it through the next few days without much trauma or disaster. We even made it to the point of the second feeding and the divvying up of cake mix to distribute to friends or family or whomever I could convince to take on some live cake mix.

I seconded a friend and made plans for the delicate exchange.

Which is when things got a little weird.

Monkey Boy, suddenly interested in the idea of Herman and his Friendshipness, started making some serious enquiries.

It was a conspiracy, he decided, on the cake’s behalf. The aim of the cake was to ensure it was spread as far around the community, if not the country, or even the WORLD!, and it would rise up – quite literally, it would seem – and take over.

It would, with all its little minion-y type cake mix blobs, enable some sort of widespread Yeast Uprising, with all the blobs, now spread across our fair land, coming together and forming one great big blob.

It wasn’t really friendly at all! Instead, it is some sort of evil psychopath that is going to kill us all, smothering us in festering, yeasty, cakeyness and become Overlord of the Universe.

Although, really, I’m not entirely convinced that some people would be miffed about being Killed by Cake.

My friend’s daughter, the only recipient I had for the evil, uprising, cake mix blob, agreed with Monkey Boy.

The two were a little disinclined to facilitate this Blob and its wicked and evil plans.

Thus, I was left to take matters into my own hands.

With the three remaining blobs, I fed two of them some more; one got apple and sultana, and the other frozen raspberries. I mixed them about with a few other bits and pieces as per the instructions, and placed them in a hot oven.

Yeah, that should teach them!

I have managed to prevent two of the blobs from taking part in this evil conspiracy to eliminate all humans from this earth. Except. possibly, those the Yeast Blob chooses to keep as slaves or something.

The third … well, I’m keeping it as my pet for the next ten days. It may give me some leverage with Monkey Boy, allowing me to remind him that I can unleash a tide of sticky, smelly horridness upon him if he is a smartarse to me again.

Also, there’s something a little satisfying about raising a pet to the point that you can turn it into cake.

Not, say, pet cows or sheep or anything like that. I’m not sure I could cope with that … but cake … yeah, I can do a pet cake.

Working with Kids? Check!

Never work with kids or animals is an oft use phrase.

More often than not it refers to working with kids and/or animals when making a movie or something that involves a camera, filming, and wanting said kid/animal to do what you want.

Ain’t gonna happen.

‘Course, with kids, you don’t actually need a camera, still or otherwise, present for them to not do what you want.

Still, I’m giving up some of my ‘spare time’ to volunteer to work with kids in a specialist program. Because I quite like kids, but more importantly, and despite my best intentions, I relate to kids quite well.

Some may argue that that is because I am extremely immature and really  need to grow up.

They would probably be correct.

Also, they needed a responsible adult. I offered, so they took me.

In the concise words of my thirteen-year-old, “They’re fucked!”

Anyhoo, volunteer I did and part of this putting hand up business requires a Working With Children’s Check. Quite rightly and understandably, too, I might add, although, really I know that I’m not actually a homicidal maniac, so I’m fairly sure I’m okay.

Still, rules are rules, and I went with the requirements imposed upon me.

It was a process that was far more difficult than one would have anticipated; more difficult, in fact, than filming a bunch of kids at a farmyard. Jeebus!

After spending some 47 minutes attempting to locate the bloody form online, completing relevant details, printing it off and heading to the post office to get a photo and authorisation, I was sent home because the supporting identification I had was not ‘right’.

Basically, my passport had expired, so was not counted – fairy nuff – but what I did have was not good enough. I was provided with a list and told I need 3 things from one list, and one thing from another list and given so many options I think my eyes glazed over and I passed out from confusion.

Thus, I had to wait an entire weekend, collecting the required, supporting documentation, and ensuring it was on my list to conclude first thing Monday morning.

Alas, this was not to be. Because what I offered was ‘wrong’ and I had strayed considerably from the “three things from this list, one thing from that list”.

By ‘considerably’ I mean I had four things from the one list. I was sent to the local branch of my bank for supporting information, and was faced with deciding between paying some exorbitant amount for a single sheet of information to be printed, or waiting an exorbitant amount of time for supporting information. I chose time.

I wander back, and … ta da! … this information is no good either.

“Seriously?” I ask.

It was rhetorical.

“Why does this process need to be so hard?” I ask.

“Although, I do get it. But I’m not a homicidal maniac and just want to help kids who need it,” I continue, still not waiting for an answer.

“Having said that though, if this bloody goes on much longer I may very well turn into a homicidal maniac!” I tell the lady behind the counter.

“Is this why they do it like this?” I ask. “To find out who will turn into a homicidal maniac and weed them out early?”

“I’ll make sure I make a note on your form when we send it in,” she tells me. Laughing.

They make it so bloody hard for those of us who are genuine about it. Seriously, if you wanted to go all postal on kids, you’d do it and the forms wouldn’t be a problem for you. It’s not going to stop those who really want to get to kids.

Ha!

Now you understand the term “going postal”.

I come home. I get my birth certificate (also in list one or something, but giving me more points) and a bank statement. Which, of course, has our previous address. Part of the issues I’m having are due to address changes.

I take these documents back.

“Do you have your marriage certificate?” I am asked.

My head hits the counter.

“Well, we need to connect this name with the name you’re applying for the Check under.” she explains.

Patiently.

And goes out the back with a handful of my documents, comes back some moments later – just before I run screaming from the post office – and says “It’s okay, we can use this one with this one” and I don’t care any more.

The standard, horrible, passport type photo is taken and stapled to the application for, that she assures me they will submit. I am given a receipt.

“It’ll be sent in about six weeks,” she advises, farewelling me with a lovely smile.

I swallow a scream …

(And in all seriousness, the chicks – all four that I dealt with – at the post officer, were bloody awesome, patient, helpful and had a sense of humour.)

Shafted for being ‘too nice’

Amidst the chaos of packing, moving, unpacking and attempting to settle into some sort of routine (a greater challenge that anticipated, for various, child-instigated reasons), Monkey Boy has been struggling to maintain some sort of contact with his friends.

This is heavily thwarted by the fact that we don’t yet have a proper internet connections, although Telstra are being wonderfully fabulous in regard to the customer service side of things. I haven’t yet had to have a tantrum.

Not only is the extremely limited internet access a problem, but his horrible mother is being even more horrible about it’s use, because she needs it for work and running her business. Thus she gets first dibs on usage and … well, basically, I’m the Worst Mother In The World.

 

This pretty much sums up our house at the moment.

This pretty much sums up our house at the moment.

Pffft.

Like I didn’t already know.

Despite this, he has found an alternative solution, that doesn’t involve MY internet connection, and during the week managed to organise a social outing for he and several of his friends.

A couple of adults were required along for this particular occasion, and it was Grumpy Pants that was asked to accompany them.

I thought it was really, really lovely of Monkey Boy to invite his dad along, and he clearly saw the need for Grumpy to get out and do something not work related, to have fun, and to just chillax. Not entirely sure an outing with a bunch of 13 year olds was terribly relaxing, but anyhoo …

Today rolled around, Grumpy muttered something along the lines of not really wanting to go out, and preferring to stay home, Monkey Boy’s plans were starting to all apart, which happens when you have something like eight teens, a majority of whom are incapable of making any sort of decision, two whom will one day make great dictators, and one whom likes to please everyone and ends up having to choose between the suggestions put forth by they dictators …

I told Grumpy I’d happily go if he’d prefer not to. Didn’t bother me none. Also, I could use a day out of the house.

Monkey Boy quickly leapt in to state that I wasn’t invited.

“What’s it matter?” I ask. “Dad doesn’t really want to go, and I’m happy to. What’s the problem?”

“Well …,” he explains, clearly trying to decide just how honest he should be.

“Welll, we had a meeting at school, and we discussed which parents we would ask along, and we chose the parents that weren’t going to be, like, pretending they’re all cool and who wouldn’t talk to us and be all embarrassing and stuff. It was decided that you were not allowed to come along.

“You talk to my friends and be, like, all friendly with them and stuff. It’s embarrassing. So you can’t come,” he concluded.

“Sooo … I’m not invited cos I’m nice to your friends?” I ask.

“Yeah, pretty much,” he confirms and goes back to sorting out the mess of his plans.

Game on I think to myself. There will be payback for this.

Several hours later …

Monkey Boy arrives home with several of his friends in tow. They’re invited and welcomed into the new house, the first of his friends to come inside. I am tempted to hug them all, but given most of them still call me “Monkey Boy’s Mum” I felt that might be pushing things a little.

Also, with this far to PC world, I’ll probably end up being sued for being nice to teenagers or some shit.

They find my Swear Jar …

SwearJar

.. and they laugh.

“Please don’t laugh!” he begs his friends.

“But it’s funny,” they reply.

“You’ll only encourage my Mum. Please don’t.”

And in that short sentence he gave me all the encouragement I need …

The New Pet

Although we haven’t been in our new abode for a terribly long time, and still cannot access the garage (that’s Grumpy’s domain and …. well … you know …) and we’ve only managed to just settle our geriatric cats into the place and eventually get their ‘house’ in some sort of sleeping order, I have managed to acquire a new pet.

Not convinced this is a brilliant idea, given I’m not entirely sure whether Hermit Crab Number 6 is even still alive, especially now it is set up permanently in Godzilla’s room and, therefore, out of the public eye, and the fact that, well, I managed to reduce nine pots of fresh herbs down to two, and I’m extremely concerned about their wellbeing.

HerbsThe one on the left I may be able to bring back. I may also be extremely deluded. Grumpy Pants isn’t showing a lot of confidence in my abilities and, well, he is well within his rights in this case.

I’m not convinced the teensy bit of green in the one on the right is a good sign, nor if it even part of the herb that was in there in the first place. It may very well be a small chip of plastic.

Plants are not my forte …

Still, this new pet found it’s way into our house.

His name is Herman.

He is a German Friendship Cake, apparently a sourdough thingo, with some sort of starter dough … given to me as though I know such things.

Herman is currently a blob of yeasty-smelling goo.

Good thing I am well used to goo.

I’m supposed to stir him daily and give him food every four days. Flour (gluten filled), sugar (highly refined) and milk (the cheap stuff from the supermarket) – not that the recipe/Looking After Your Pet instructions say those things, I just want to reassure everyone that I’m still me and haven’t gone all sourdough cake making fancy schmancy.

I did try to fob the responsibility off to Grumpy Pants (because he is a chef and everyone has told me that “It’ll be fine, he’s a chef” and I’m not really sure of the connection between being a chef, and being responsible for a food based pet), to Godzilla (“Come on, it’ll be an awesome science experiment!”, to Monkey Boy (“Go on, it’ll be fun!”) and to Chippie (“Come on, it’ll be your very own pet and you can love it and look after it. It’ll be fun!)

Still, that I have acquired a pet that is of edible origin is not at all surprising. After caring for it and feeding it once or twice, I am required to chop it into four bits, add some fruits and even more sugar and stuff to one bit, then cook it and, one presumes, eat it.

The other three bits are more starter bits, in which I guess I’m required to find three more suckers friends or relatives to pass bits of Herman over to.

It all sounds a little bit morbid, really, when you put it like that.

I do worry I’ll become attached to it, and continue to hang onto a piece of Herman and end up with some sort of perpetual, yeast-based pet thing that I end up looking after for years at a time.

And I’d feel a little bad if I just used all four bits of Herman to make four different Friendship cakes with, as this would be a little like breaking a chain letter. It just feels wrong.

Although, on the other hand, four cakes … hmmmm …..

I guess all I have to do know is keep it alive for ten days and see how we go from there.

Wish me luck.

Or, rather, wish Herman the German Friendship Cake Luck. It’s not his fault he ended up in my hands!

Here is a photo of Herman, before he was fed this morning …

Herman

 

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