Category Archives: Love and CJ

Storytelling by Mr 2

TJ is almost 3; older now than Louisette was when he was born.

A couple of days ago he said, “I tell stories to you.”

“Oh good,” I said. “I’m listening.”

“This story called: Little-Big!” he said. “I biiiiiiiiiig dinosaur, and Mummy little dinosaur.”

“Oh!” I said. “I like this story. What happens next?”

“I eat you! I eat you all up!”

“Oh!” I said, as he acted out this grisly tale. “And then what happens?”

“You all gone.”

“I’m all gone,” I agreed. “There’s no Mummy here any more. And then what happens?”

“I spit you out, ptuey!” he said. “Now you back here.”

“And then what happens?” I asked.

“That end.”

 

 

It’s not his very first story – I think that one was, “Look! I make bridge! People walk across bridge! The end!”

Recorded here for posterity.

IMG_2561.jpg

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Awesomeness, Love and CJ

The artist formerly known as Miss Four

Last Sunday, Louisette turned five. She’s about to start Kindy. Today was her party.

Five years. She’s grown all the way from a giddying hypothetical notion to a wrinkly spew machine to a distinct person: smart, focused, creative, affectionate, gentle, passionate, and gorgeous. I took a photo a day for the first year of each of my kids lives, and those daily photos are here (TJ first, since he’s more recent) if you’re in the mood for a lot of scrolling.

Look at that girl!

(This photo and the next were taken on a professional shoot with Thorson Photography.)

banksfamily-038

Right now I feel like just plastering every wall of my home with photos of my kids.

All the most horrifying statistics about kids are “this many kids under five die of such-and-such”. Now that Louisette has turned five, I’m pretty sure she’s going to live forever. We made it this far, right? RIGHT???

Kindy. (Note to self: Learn how to spell Kindergarten. GAR-ten. You can’t rely on five attempts and a spell checker every single time…)

Kindy is the beginning of a new era. It’s a relatively easy transition for Louisette since it’s located literally next door to her day care centre (which she’s been attending since she was a year old; at the party today there were three kids she’s been friends with since that time – and a total of six pre-existing friends who will be in Kindy with her).

Louisette is deliriously excited about Kindy as well as being quite nervous (probably because every adult in her life is so obsessed with Kindy that it’s making it seem like a much bigger life event than it is). She’ll wear a uniform and have school holidays (she’s five weeks into the longest holidays of her life right now). It changes the routine of our family – we’re finally taking both kids to the same school (sort of; TJ is in the day care of course), but the kids have significantly different routines now.

TJ has long days Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, and nothing Thursday-Friday.

Louisette is 9:00am-3:00pm every weekday (I’ll pick her up two hours before TJ) and then has school holidays completely free.

I’m hoping that I can use the syncopated routines to spend a lot of one-on-one time with each kid. They’re different creatures when they’re the only one around (which is part of why siblings are so wonderful; they open up a new part of who your kid is). I’ve had pretty bad anxiety ever since TJ was born, mainly because of health stuff. But a part of that anxiety is the need to divide my attention between them and/or make sure they’re not killing each other every ten seconds or so. Hopefully the one-on-one time will help my brain to stop panicking, and will also give me many of those marvellous, surprising moments when my kids and I are truly connected and I’m suddenly overthrown by awe and happiness and pride and love. I hope there’s a correlation between “time parent spends with little kids” and “time adult kids spend with aged parents” because I don’t want to miss any piece of their lives.

banksfamily-033

(ProTip for mothers who feel ugly in pics after pregnancy: Hide behind children. Or, where possible, behind a tree.)

When Louisette was an infant we were at a playgroup for mums with babies all born within about a month of each other (one of those “babies” is the non-TJ gentleman in this picture, who has never missed Louisette’s birthday and who also happens to possess two top-notch parents for myself and Chris to play with while the kids do their thing).

img_2062

I noticed that a lot of one-year olds were miserable and/or terrified at their own party. The party wasn’t for them, it was for all the friends and family who loved them. But I decided that although I’d always have a party for my kids, I’d also make sure they did something on their birthday day that was for THEM. In the years since, it’s evolved to “family + activity” on the birthday day; then later a party day (my sister’s kids come to both).

On Louisette’s birthday day we went on a small local waterslide – Chris, TJ, Louisette, myself, my sister, and her two kids. It was great! Then we had lunch with my parents (including my sister and her two kids), and dinner with Chris’s parents, followed by Louisette having a sleepover at their house AND spending the entire next day with them! So THAT worked.

Louisette has been planning her party since her last party and I’ve been actively prepping for months. (Exhibit A: party bag prep)

img_2032

Party bags are a blight upon the face of the earth: junk food, noise-makers, choking hazards, and cheap horrors that fall apart (inspiring much weeping) before the guest gets to their car for the ride home. Having said that, Louisette and TJ are obsessed with them, and so is everyone their age. Since I can prep the bags ahead of time, and choose things that aren’t too irritating to me personally, I don’t truly mind the phenomenon.

Kids also loooove pass the parcel. To a kid, pass the parcel means “A PRESENT FOR ME OH AWESOMES” but when it’s actually happening it means “I AM BEING TAUNTED BY EVERYONE ELSE GETTING GIFTS AND WHEN IS IT MY TURN AND WHY DIDN’T *I* GET THE FLASHING EDIBLE BUNNY BECAUSE NOW I’VE SEEN IT I WANTS IT MY PRECIOUS WAAAAAHHH!!”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pass the parcel game happen without at least one kid sobbing. (When the kids are older they’ll get better at it and more realistic.) Last year each layer had a bunch of lollies to share with everyone! Yay! It confused and over-sugared the children, but it was a nice idea. This year my sister was moving house literally today so I said she should drop her kids and leave, and could drop them way before the party started. I had the brilliant idea of having a pre-party pass-the-parcel with exactly the right number of layers for just those four kids, and a new pirate paddle pool in the centre (coordinated to make sure one of my kids got it, to avoid confusion). It went great. (Although one of the other kids—who was having a snotty day anyway—was devastated an hour later that the party didn’t appear to include pass the parcel.)

After months of party-oriented discussion Louisette decided to have a pirate and mermaid party (exactly as she did last year—”in case some people are scared of pirates”), and I encouraged her to make it a pool party. Why? Because at this age, popularity is easy, and I can give it to my daughter for a few dollars. Pool = awesome.

We always have lots of water play at Louisette’s party, and it’s always a hit with the kids (plus super easy to clean up, and it means the inside space is quiet and neat). Chalk is also popular and easy (our house is rendered, which makes it fun to draw on), so I put some chalk outside, and a table (with fruit and fairy bread; water and cups; sunscreen and towels). I hired 1.5 babysitters (the .5 had her own kids there too) for water safety and parental freedom, and barely went outside at all. I ran the party as two overlapping parties, making it clear in the invitations that parents of confident swimmers didn’t need to go outside (in the heat and noise) at all. This cunning plan fundamentally worked. I served a fresh Devonshire Tea (chosen for simplicity while sounding fancy and adult) to anyone who wanted it, and actually enjoyed it myself. It was relatively easy to hold a grown-up conversation, which is pretty amazing considering there were twenty children on the premises. I think a few adults were weirded out about my overt enthusiasm for shoving the children outside, but oh well.

Louisette and I made an ice cream cake again, topped with faux water made from desiccated coconut and colouring (I had reports some of the kids were a bit freaked out, wondering what it was), and with lego people swimming in it. I had one friend distract the kids with the Hokey Pokey while another helped me serve up the cake. That lowered the chaos slightly, and was simple, harmless, fun that suited even the two-year olds.

img_2039

I always need a massive debrief after Louisette’s party. This blog was it. I really like the kids my kid hangs out with, and I like their parents too. We talked a lot about Kindy, and uniforms, and school stationary, and eccentric in-laws. Grown-up talking! Yay!

Look at these gorgeous kids!

Louisette’s birthday is the social centre of my year (TJ is a winter baby + a more introverted kid + not born in the major school holidays, so I invite a few close friends to his party but invite pretty much everyone Louisette knows to her parties).

See that blond cherub? I invited him and his sister to Louisette’s party last year without realising they were siblings. That day was the beginning of a whole-family friendship which is one of the best things that happened last year. That boy is TJ’s best friend, his sister is Louisette’s best friend, and Chris and I both like hanging out with their mum.

And here’s a pic of Louisette from her first birthday.

d15-1-13-1

I loved her with my whole heart that day, but I really do love her more and more as each year passes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Awesomeness, Love and CJ, Project 365: A picture a day for a year

Four years

I’m crying, but it’s not sadness.

My husband Chris and I have been following the US election with increasing horror today. We both chose not to speak openly in the car on the way home, because our kids were with us. We exchanged a few careful words, and I asked Chris to drive. He knew without asking that I was too upset to drive safely.

TJ fell asleep.

Louisette is four years old, a pre-schooler in a Peppa Pig shirt and a baseball cap. She picked up on the vibe and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Chris looked alarmed as I opened my mouth to explain today’s election: “A country a long long way away has just chosen their President. I don’t think they made a good choice. He’s… mean. I think now he will be able to be mean to more people.”

Louisette was silent, thinking.

“It’s a very very long way away,” said Chris.

Damage control.

“Yes,” I said. “On the other side of the world. And there are lots of other politicians who will also be making the laws and all that kind of thing. The whole system of government is designed especially so that if someone mean is the president, they can’t do too many bad things.”

“A long, long way away,” said Chris.

“That man doesn’t hurt people on purpose,” I said. “But when people ask him for help, he says no.”

“That country is all the way on the other side of the world,” said Chris. “Really super far away.”

“And you know what?” I said. “I bet all the kind people in that country—and even us, right here in Australia—will be extra super kind and we will look after all the people who need help.”

“How?” she said.

I’d just received a “Really Useful Gifts” magazine in the mail. They have a wide range of physical items—a goat, a well, a school—that are labelled with prices eg for $50 you can buy a goat so a family has a source of milk, cheese, and future income (if they have a boy and a girl goat…).

When we got home and sorted out the inevitable chaos of bags and drinks of milk and the parental win of transferring TJ into his bed without waking him, I showed Louisette the magazine.

img_1160

 

Louisette has an allowance of $1 per week. Sometimes she buys a 50 cent lolly. A lot of the time she saves it up. Sometimes she dips into her savings and buys herself a toy.

I steered Lizzie towards the things she’d understand best in the magazine: A school. Chickens. A vegetable garden (she always claims to love vegetables, although when we put them on her plate she says things like, “I meant in Summer I like them; not today.”)

She was excited that she could give these presents to someone she’d never met. I told her she had $20 saved up, and that she could spend as little or as much of it as she liked. I told her I would put in the same amount of money that she did.

We kept coming back to chickens. And a small business. And a pre-school. And adult literacy (she was shocked at the concept of someone who was all grown up but still couldn’t read. Reading is hard). And a vegetable garden.

I warned her that if she got all those things her money would be gone. All of it.

“What about my flower?” she asked.

I remembered it well: A little plastic thing with a smiling face that bobbed back and forth. It was the first toy she bought for herself with her own money.

“Actually,” I admitted, “that’s broken. It cost $3. So if you bought all of these things, you would have to wait three weeks with absolutely no lollies or buying anything. Then you could buy a new flower.”

“Okay,” she said. “Then I will buy no lollies for weeks and weeks, and I will buy this”— A school building—”and this”—a clinic—”and all those other things too.”

That’s when my eyes started to mist over. I counted up the cost. $80. Every bit of me wanted to buy it all with my own money, and let her keep her allowance. “That’s a lot of things, Louisette. You’d get no allowance at all for weeks and weeks and weeks.”

She nodded gravely. “You’d get no money at all—not even one single dollar—for weeks and weeks. Not until your birthday.”

An unimaginable distance.

“Yes,” she said. “That’s what I want to do.”


A lot of people feel scared of a lot of things right now. We feel helpless.

I can’t change the world, but I can change it for a few of the people who need it the most. I can be kind. I can learn about other cultures and get to know people who aren’t exactly like me—Mexicans. Homosexuals. Muslims. Trump supporters.

I can find out what we have in common, even if it takes some digging sometimes.

I can change an entire village in another part of the world by giving it a school, clinic, small business opportunity, and chickens.

I can teach my children to respond to fear by being more kind, by making more friends, and by giving more of whatever we have to give.

Four years feels like a long time. For my daughter, it’s a lifetime. But in a world that seems to be getting darker and meaner… there she is. There I am. There you are.

The world is a beautiful place.

img_1019

 


If you’d like your money to be more effective where it’s needed most, skip the charity gimmicks and give money to a reputable company like World Vision or Oxfam.

 

 

Same story but without the Trump stuff (so it’s more shareable):

My four-year old daughter Louisette was thrilled to discover that she could use her allowance to buy presents for people she’d never met—and her presents could help them have better food, water, and jobs!
Her allowance is $1 per week and she’d saved $20. I told her that I’d give the same amount of money she did, and we looked at the “Build a Village” range and some other things that made sense to her, like chickens and adult literacy. She is learning to read and she knows it‘s hard work but super important… especially with a mother who’s a writer!


We had to choose so carefully. She paused and asked me about a toy she wanted to buy. I told her that it cost $3 so if she wanted to give her whole savings away she would have no money at all for three whole weeks and then she could buy the toy. 


“Well,” she said. “I want to buy the school, and the clinic, and the vegetable garden, and the chickens, and the pre-school, and the one that teaches a grown-up to read. So if I have no money at all for weeks and weeks and weeks, can I do that?”


“That would be a very, very long time,” I told her. “All the way to your birthday… with no money at all.”


“And then I can give them all those things?” she asked.


“Yes.”
“Then that’s what I really real
ly want to do.”


Louisette loves to dress as SuperGirl, and pretend to help people. Today she made a difference to people in the real world. https://www.usefulgifts.org

CwzsqnMVQAAfyHo.jpg

2 Comments

Filed under Daily Awesomeness, Entries that matter, Love and CJ

Parenting

Well, it happened. Louisette told me she wanted to be a writer when she grew up.

Being a writer is a terrible idea! My dream for my kids is for them to have steady, 9-5ish jobs with sick leave and annual leave and a pay rise every year. I want them to be healthy and sane. In short, I want them to have everything I never will.

“That’s wonderful!” I said to my sweet innocent child. “And you know what’s great about writing? You can do it AND have another job at the same time!”

Ah, parenting. Finding that magical place between, “Follow your dreams” and “Do your homework.”

img_0229

That’s Louisette hugging a dinosaur.

Leave a comment

Filed under Love and CJ

Dancing, Duelling, Delicious: The official book launch for HEART OF BRASS

You know what’s cool? Nurofen tablets are sugar coated.

*

HEART OF BRASS had her official Book Launch yesterday as part of the inaugural Canberra Writers Festival, an absolutely huge event. I was written about (with a cover image) in Canberra Weekly magazine (96,000 readers!) and in the Canberra Times, as well as various other places.

The launch took place in the National Library of Australia (pictured behind the kids and I), in the Ferguson Room. The Ferguson Room overlooks the foyer of the National Library, which gives it a grand air and means one can watch guests coming in. That was particularly fun for me, since I’d encouraged steampunk/historical garb and was well rewarded for my efforts. My kids loved it too. Louisette got to talk into the microphone before anyone else showed up, and she imitated my own test speech by saying, “I wrote a book”—which in her case is quite true (if you haven’t read “The Adventures of Pirate Captain Louisette”, just scroll down a couple of entries).

 

I’m usually a very confident public speaker, but I was intensely nervous (enough to have patches of time when I was breathing funny) before this event, even though I was rationally confident it would go well.

The best and most important thing is people.

I was very lucky in that regard. The Ferguson Room is meant to seat forty people, which is rather a lot for a debut author—but within a day of setting up the facebook page (and SMSing and emailing various people to invite them personally), I knew I had at least twenty people. The phrase “book launch” is haunted by the horrifying spectre of a desperately awkward room of four people sitting in a sea of chairs and wishing fervently that they were elsewhere (none more miserably than the author). By the time the big day rolled around I was slightly nervous that the room would be unpleasantly crowded or that we’d run out of books for people to buy (what wonderful issues to have!) I estimated 50-60 guests beforehand, and I was exactly on the money. Someone had added a few more chairs to the room, which was useful. We sold a very healthy number of books without selling out altogether (my publisher and I both had extra stashes of books just in case). I would have liked to sell more, but this means that the National Library bookshop still has copies on the shelf (excellent promotion in itself).

50-60 people is a lot. That’s a larger number than any event I’ve hosted before (with the exception of my wedding), and it was in a location I didn’t know well.

I get panicky in new places. The National Library as a whole is somewhere I’ve been to many times, and I visited the room before the launch to get a sense of the space, but the technical equipment was new on the day. It all worked well (strange but true), including the book trailer and the dancing music. I really enjoyed the location and I wish I could start over so I could have that confidence from the beginning. Bring on Book 2!

Robbie Matthews is a friend, a writer, and a generally charming and funny person who’s well known to the Canberra writing community. He was MC at my wedding, and I was very pleased with myself for thinking of him again for the launch (especially as it prevented me from haranguing other authors who I don’t know as well).

At my wedding reception one of the tables was “the minion table”—full of people who’d helped decorate, give lifts, take photos, etc. As MC Robbie was on that table and he made friends. Then he made a highly memorable speech about the wide range of colourful threats I’d made to all my sweet innocent minions in order to let them know what would happen if they didn’t do their assigned jobs. I vividly recollect how impressed I was at the time that I’d subconsciously tailored original threats to each person.

As the book launch drew closer I wondered what Robbie would say about me, since I hadn’t threatened anybody this time. He got up and explained how we’d met: We did Live Action Role Playing (LARPing is like a play where all the players have a general character and plot outline and then improvise to amuse one another), and I was his fictional daughter. “By the end,” Robbie explained, “she was wearing my spine as a necklace.”

Oh yeah… I’d forgotten about that. (To be fair, my character was under a lot of stress at the time.) One may draw one’s own conclusions about my general mental health…

A lot of book launches are introduced by the writer’s publisher. It’s a very neat way to do things, but I always felt it was a bit sad since the author and publisher are the people who are the most desperate to sell the book. Having Robbie meant that we had a disinterested party recommending the book (which he read before the launch). That made me feel much less like a grasping novice.

IMG_0749.JPG

I realised belatedly that the reason I was so nervous was that I was, in the most literal sense of the phrase, “selling something” (and to an audience that was trapped for the duration, too). It’s impossible for a writer to truly know if a book is good or not (although being published certainly helps) and that’s why I always find book launch speeches so horrifying. I acquitted myself well enough, I think.

I’d described the launch to Louisette in advance, and she said she wanted to help with my speech, so when I got up I summoned her as well. She is an adorable child and was adorably serious about the entire process—but she stood bravely (by herself, because I needed to stay near the podium microphone). She was very pleased afterwards with her own courage. Hopefully this will lead her to be a confident public speaker, rather than turn her into a full-time writer (creative jobs have a high personal cost that I wouldn’t wish on anyone).

launch1

Clothing is tricky while I’m still waiting for my stomach muscles to be put back together (not helped by weird sensory overstimulation stuff that tends to give me panic attacks if I wear new clothes), but I’d had an idea (on Friday) to adjust a favourite skirt, and that very much improved things for me.

My other main panic was that I’d simply forget to bring something essential. I started putting things in the car last Thursday, and although there were certain things I meant to do and didn’t, all the important pieces (such as a copy of the book to give away to the best costume, and having my kindle prepped on the podium for my reading) were in place.

This was all very much complicated by the fact that I’d gotten overenthusiastic and decided to write and run a Live Action Role Play game inside Questacon after the launch. But that’ll need its own entry 🙂

The tea duelling and catering was complicated by the fact that no outside food was allowed, and no food was allowed in the room. That meant paying a huge sum to the cafe (which reserved tables for us and did a great job from beginning to end) and having biscuits that were fresh and delicious but not the right kind for duelling. Although the cafe staff were excellent and the location classy, the lack of ability to bring in a pack of plain dry biscuits was annoying. Still, it was entertaining and it looks great in pictures (useful for media coverage, which is useful for selling books, which is the point). And even though we under-catered, most people were so distracted by the duelling that they didn’t eat or drink at all.

launch6

 

The waltzing was a huge highlight. I had one couple primed to lead the way, and Louisette is an enthusiastic amateur. I figured I’d waltz with Louisette while my dancers hopefully lured a couple or two to join them over the course of the piece.

Actually, I danced with Chris the second the music started, and several other couples willingly took to the floor in an instant. The space was perfect (everyone moved the chairs back); roomy enough to dance without feeling either crowded or lonely.

It’s been a long time since Chris and I waltzed, and it was a lovely moment for both of us. I found out later that one of the other people dancing was stepping out (invited by a nearby acquaintance because Canberra is like that) for the first time since major surgery, and it made her realise she might be healthy enough to dance regularly again soon.

launch3

Adrenalin does wonders in carrying my wreck of a body through things (in fact that’s probably part of why I do things like this—for a while, I feel normal). My muscles were freaking out last night as the adrenalin wore off, and today I’m weirdly sore in a dozen places (hence the nurofen). Luckily I’m not involved in the rest of the Canberra Writers Festival so I don’t need to do anything more strenuous than writing and napping for the rest of the day.

I still can’t quite believe how many people came.

IMG_0750.JPG

The launch was as close to perfect as it could be. The festival, venue, and volunteers were all top notch. Ultimately I wouldn’t change a thing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced/Publication, Daily Awesomeness, I get paid for this, Love and CJ, MegaList of Awesomeness, My Novels, Reviews, Steampunk, Steampunk Australia Stories, Steampunk Series, Writing Advice, Writing Ranting

Party Post-Mortem

Yesterday was TJ’s 2nd birthday party. It was also the family party/get-together for Chris… and my brother. And my nephew.

My brother didn’t actually come, which he probably enjoyed very much.

It all started with the knowledge that my parents were visiting Canberra that weekend. With four family birthdays around the same time, I had a think about the unique challenges of doing something all four (turning 2, 11, 36, and 37) would enjoy, and came up with the legitimately brilliant idea of going to Skyzone trampolining.

IMG_0016

 

The trampoling bit:

My poor nephew is six years older than the rest of his cousins, so he generally has a pretty boring time at any family events. THIS, however, he enjoyed. Epic win.

IMG_0017

 

TJ is pretty easily pleased, but he really, really liked this. Epic win.

IMG_0007

 

Chris injured his back during the night, and tends to get mildly depressed by his own birthdays. That + an attempt at jumping = epic fail. But he had fun anyway. TJ was hilarious.

After taking about fifty photos, I realised that our camera was changing its settings every time it was turned off. That was less than ideal, but at least I know now (and I’d taken some video since jumping pics are tricky at best already).

One of the cousins, looking artsy:

IMG_9978

 

I was really pleased to have all the grandparents there so they knew how TJ handled it (it’s VERY likely that the trampolining will be an annual family tradition). TJ was nice enough to pay special attention to my in-laws who really only showed up for him and Louisette. Epic win.

IMG_9981 IMG_9988

Cost: high ($16/jumper) but ameliorated by saying, “No family presents”. (The grandparents still gave gifts, naturally – I chose most of them, and chose VERY well. Gifts for 2-year olds are so much fun!)

Planning: I asked staff about their busiest times, and chose 3-4pm as a result. It was noisy and crowded, but because almost all our kids were aged 0-5, we were able to go in the “littlies” area, AND have it almost entirely to ourselves. (And we had enough adults that the 11-year old was able to do his own thing and still be connected to the family.) Epic win.

When I found out not all the family would be coming, I decided to combine the “family” and “friends” birthdays, and (after checking it was okay with my mum and sister) I chose two kids to invite as TJ’s best friends. TJ loves them, and so do I (two REALLY nice, cheerful, and chilled-out little boys who are sufficiently flexible/confident to have fun at a noisy trampoline place), and I really really like every member of their family too. Both kids came, with was really cool. And they both had fun*. And I had zero anxiety about inviting a bunch of adults I’d never met before. Epic win.

For my kids, I generally have two special days for their birthday – a party, which is all about community, and a birthday day, which is all about the actual kid. (This mattered much more when they were turning 1. Most 1-year olds cry through their entire party – but “what the friends/family/I want” and “what the kid wants” are still often distinct.)

Surprises: Chris’ back injury wasn’t actually anyone’s fault. He didn’t have a great birthday (it was his birthday day, which was a bit sad – who wants to run a kid’s party on their own birthday?) but he’s taking Monday off for TJ’s birthday (the plan is to give TJ some attention and then ship him off to daycare) which will actually be a great day for him.

The kids and Chris were all quite grumpy all morning. (Louisette and I are always miserable before and after big events, which is unfortunate but at least I know it’s coming these days.)

A random girl decided TJ was in her way and she knocked him over and then was busily pushing him into the path of a pair of bigger kids that had come into our area by mistake. Chris spotted them and ran to intercept, getting there before TJ fully realised what had happened (or was jumped on). One of the four-year old girls with us saw the whole thing, and told Louisette that TJ had been bullied. Louisette immediately came and told me, and I assured her it was dealt with, and that she’d done exactly the right thing – which she had. Given how much I myself wanted to punch the bully, I was really impressed with the behaviour of “my” girls.

This entire weekend half of New South Wales is flooding, so my assumption of bad winter weather was extremely wise! Epic win. (Except the parking suuuuuuucked. I warned everyone that sessions started on the hour so they should be early, but my lot was the only group that arrived vaguely on time. I felt bad that they’d wasted so much money, but it’s not like it was my fault.)

*Some strangers had one of those mall ride-in cars parked nearby. One of TJ’s friends spend half an hour trying his best to flee the trampoline, meaning that his mum and I were unable to sit down but were constantly crash-tackling and wrestling him (which was fun too, but not exactly what we were aiming for). Eventually/wisely, she asked the random strangers if her son could sit in their car. Fortunately they said yes, and the kid was thrilled. After ten minutes in the car, he was able to enjoy the trampolines. #Random #alwaysonekid

Shoulda, coulda, woulda: Next time, I definitely need to bring water for the kids to drink!


Cake: I made an ice cream cake (thermomix for the win!) despite the season. It’s easy to make (essential when Louisette REALLY wants to help) and can be prepped quite a quite a while in advance. It’s also much yummier than regular cake (and actually neater to eat – spills are simpler to clean than crumbs, and travel less far from the table). Epic win.

I also made cupcakes with Louisette and TJ on the day. Like any sane person, they enjoyed the raw dough more than the finished product. (Louisette is obsessed with cupcakes, but only ever eats the top.) #worthit

IMG_9932

I put a candle on every cupcake, so each kid got to blow out (and thus spit on) their own cake. It was really easy for me, and really fun for them (and reducing birthday jealousy by a lot). Didn’t sing “Happy Birthday”. I hate that song. Epic win.

IMG_9939

 


We didn’t eat at Skyzone, which was definitely wise. Everyone came back to my house for cake etc (the promise of cake made the kids happy to leave Skyzone). Most of the guests had their own set of keys, so the two cars that arrived before us didn’t have to wait in the rain. Three potential catastrophes averted.

I was mildly concerned Louisette would ask for party games, but she was so busy she didn’t think of it. (Her favourite is pass the parcel, which is a nightmare to produce and another nightmare to adjudicate). Two catastrophes averted.

The main reason it felt so busy was…………..


……The climbing frame.

Our calendar has photos taken roughly a year ago (each month) so this month has a pic of TJ’s party last year (including the climbing frame). TJ saw the photo on the calendar and indicated he wanted to play on the climbing frame again. Since it was so extraordinary for him to have the ability to articulate any wants in advance, I was determined to comply (plus it’s a really great way to suddenly jazz up a homebound, housebound party).

I forgot to pick it up from the in-laws in advance of the party, and it was clear that every adult thought I was insane for insisting on it. It’s a fairly complicated thing with instructions that are only barely in English (and in quite an illogical order too), and about half the pieces are missing their labels. It’s also moderately difficult to take apart – even with the right tool, it hurts your fingers (and we didn’t have the right tool – we know someone who’s lent it to us twice before, but since I didn’t invite them to the party I chose not to request it this year).

On a good day it takes twenty minutes to put together. With seven kids around, it suuuuuuucked. I sent the four pre-school girls to another room, and was really impressed with their obedience. The process still sucked, and no one could really help much. But TJ really enjoyed the building process – and when it was done, he had an absolute blast climbing it (and so did the remaining kids).

For the kids, that was definitely way more exciting than the cake (or party games, for that matter).

IMG_0129

 

Surprises: I knew Louisette was fascinated by building and construction. This was the first time I saw that TJ has the same inclination. Next time, I’ll build the frame before the party and involve TJ and Louisette and Chris.

But TJ LOVED it. Epic win. #worththepain

IMG_0164

 

Surprises: The last two kids had a bath with mine, because they left well after bedtime and having a bath at our place meant they could go straight to bed. Their mum and I sat around a corner from the bathroom, after telling the pre-school girls to yell for us if anyone fell under the water. We listened carefully to them (patterns of speech and laughter and splashing) but at one point the girls yelled for us, and we came running. TJ had fallen under the water, and they had done exactly what we’d told them to do. (TJ had sat up again by himself – he actually does that a lot and has always gotten himself back up – excellent training for a real drowning crisis.)

IMG_0153

 

I’ll remember this party as the moment when Louisette stepped up as a big sister. (Not that I’d actually use her as a babysitter, but my trust in her good sense and awareness has increased dramatically.)

IMG_0132

(Not a great photo, but I kept it for Louisette’s facial expression mingled pride and watchfulness.)


Recovery: I’m quite sore today – back, feet, legs, arms, wrists (I’ve taken nurofen for the arthritis and will have a hot shower and then bandage my wrists soon). There are two bits of good news on that front. First, my pain is symmetrical, which is “normal” pain (as if I’d been moving house rather than just running a party, but no injuries). Second…no migraine! The meds I’m on are making me extremely drowsy (and unco), and I’m sleeping up to 14 hours per day BUT they do seem to be stopping the migraines. I get mild headaches some evenings, and the occasional flash of pre-migraine “aura” (visual weirdness which is a strong warning of impending migraine)….and that’s all. I’d expect three days of strong pain after a kids’ party. But maybe that time is over. Maybe I can actually do stuff – like driving, going outside, and exercising – without being wiped out for days afterwards.

The tips of my fingers all hurt from putting together (and partially taking apart) the climbing frame.

Psychologically, I’m in the black pit between anti-depressants (an unfortunate necessity for the new migraine meds) and it’s been very very bad for the last month or two. Stuff like thinking I need to give my children up for adoption. I feel a bit traumatised by the party, but the therapy I need is relatively simple: 1. This blog. 2. Sorting through the photos to prove to myself it was a good party, and special for the kids. 3. Some thoughts about adjusting expectations in future (some of the adults happily breezed through the party while I and one other person – a single mum who deserves to sit down and chat with grown-ups more than anyone else at the party – did 95% of the serving, cleaning, and supervising). If I know my friends think of the party as a social occasion for adults (a notion that  believe is sometimes possible with all pre-schoolers and older, but never possible with toddlers), then that changes how I set things up.

And I intend to have a thorough whinge-fest with Chris once the kids are asleep. (It should be noted that he attempted to help with the climbing frame but was gasping and moaning in pain so I told him to stop.)

Conclusion: Chris needs a day off – without kids – for his birthday. Otherwise, Skyzone is the biz, and is going to stay awesome for many years to come. When the kids are a fair bit older, we’ll probably invest in a full-scale party (Skyzone provides cake and food and a party room) one day, but will probably do something unclassy to ameliorate the expense (like making people pay their own way, as with this year).

I’ve been to a party at the other trampoline company (in a giant semi-converted warehouse in Mitchell that was less nice as a facility), and Louisette is still talking about it a year later.

All I really should have done better is:

(a) Take water to Skyzone. (And keep in mind that everyone will be late no matter what I say.)

(b) Build the climbing frame with my kids and husband, in advance.

(c) Have something lazy-but-fun for before and after big events when the bad mood strikes – maybe a new Pixar movie for all of us to watch together.

In fact I left the climbing frame half-assembled (not fully assembled because TJ’s climbing strategy lacks self-preservation and I knew Chris and I would both be dopey this morning and therefore unable to supervise safely), and have decided to rebuild it with my kids momentarily, and leave it up for TJ’s birthday day tomorrow.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Awesomeness, Food, Love and CJ

Louisette Interview Age Four

Based on a set of questions from Crappy Pictures, I’ve interviewed Louisette around her birthday at age two, three, and now four:

 

Me: What job do you want to have when you grow up?

Louisette: LOTS of jobs. I want to be a waiter….and work in a cafe. And in the cafe I will make cupcakes. And cakes. And bread.

Me: What makes you feel happy?

Louisette: Being with Dad AND TJ… and you. And I’m with you right now, so I feel happy. And I feel happy when I’m eating bacon.

Me: If you had so much money you could buy absolutely anything, what would you buy?

Louisette: The same bag as anybody in the whole world.

Me: What is the meaning of life?

Louisette: I don’t know. That’s just a silly joke. I know! That’s the question.

Me: What do you love?

Louisette: You.

Me: What makes you feel loved?

Louisette: Dad and you and TJ

Me: What are you afraid of?

Louisette: Without being with a grown up.

Me: If you had one wish, what would you wish for?

Louisette: I wish I could fly.

Me: What is the funniest word?

Louisette: Clowny bowny.

Me: What is the hardest thing to do?

Louisette: Play golf.

Me: What is the easiest thing to do?

Louisette: Ah…aha! Play with a balloon. and make this picture.

Me: What is the best thing in the world?

Louisette: You and TJ and Dad.

Me: What is the worst thing in the world?

Louisette: TJ usually snatches from me so he’s the baddest.

Me: What makes you mad?

Louisette: Someone holding on tight of me and I want to get out.

Me: What is the meaning of love?

Louisette: Bun! [Giggles]

Me: If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

Louisette: Buy a lot of things, like this (her own drawing). Well if we wanted to get a real slide then we need thousands and thousands of money to get that.

[later]

Me: What is life for?

Louisette: Are you getting sleepy?

Me: No Louisette, I just leaned my head back to hear what you’re saying  because we’re in the car. So what do you think life is for?

Louisette: For having…….life!

Me: Great answer.

Louisette: Now I’ll ask you a question.

Me: Okay.

Louisette: Why is Upside Down Town upside down?

Me: Because it’s silly.

Louisette: Why?

Me: Because silly is fun.

Louisette: Like Mr Klickety Kane?

Me: Yes! He’s VERY silly.

 

untitled4

Leave a comment

Filed under Funny, Love and CJ