Monthly Archives: April 2013

Matilda

Just a few pictures I took (and one Matilda took) to celebrate my unique and whimsical first-born child.

So sorry for the long break – we’re having some computer issues here (the laptop fell off the ironing board and died…)

Platter

Matilda likes to take care of her brothers and sister.  She made them a healthy snack after school (pretty sure she wrote out an accompanying menu also)

little notes

She tries really hard to be organised.

toothfairy

She works hard to accommodate visiting fairyfolk.  That’s glitter, by the way, and it got EVERYWHERE.

tooth3

Though she does seem to employ a bizarre pseudonym for the purpose…

tooth2

Thankfully, the tooth fairy remembered to visit this time and didn’t have to write an apologetic note (in handwriting remarkably similar to Aunty Jan’s) the following night…

chairs

She sets up baffling installation artworks and then photographs them for my blog.

Matilda was talking animatedly to Jack Sprout’s daughter the other night (she of the fabulous birthday party)

“My mum calls me Matilda on her blog.  What does your mum call you on her blog?”

Jack explained to her horrified daughter that not all mothers write blogs and that she did not, in fact, have a blog name like Matilda did.  Accordingly, Matilda and said daughter scurried off to to invent a suitable pseudonym I could use for all the times I need to refer to this little girl.  “Rarity” and “Twilight” were tested and rejected, before they finally settled on “Rainbow Dash”.

So here’s a shout-out to Rainbow Dash.  Live long and prosper.

A telemarketer called up the other day.  He had been pestering us off and on over a couple of days.  Matilda answered it, first noting that the caller id was for “overseas” as it had been the other times.  Even though I was standing a few feet away, Matilda took it upon herself to tell the telemarketer that her mum was not available:  “she’s in the shower at the moment” and that her dad was also unavailable “he’s in the shower too.  They’re both in the shower together.  I have to go now.  Bye!”

He hasn’t called us back.

 

Hero in a Half Shot Skinny Mocha Latte

A couple of weeks ago, my older brother Greg had a birthday.  Greg lives in Japan and I miss him terribly.  Whilst my younger brother Peter organised a ‘care package’ from all of us (with plenty of Barbecue Shapes), I wanted to send Greg something hand made, just from me.  Well, that’s not entirely true – I wasn’t organised enough to get it ready in time for the care package, so I decided to send it separately in an envelope…

Living in Japan, Greg doesn’t have much space for stuff, and what’s more, he does well in his job, so any stuff he needs, he can buy anyway.  So I figure handmade gifts are something he can’t buy for himself and it’s like sending him a hug from home.  In the past, I’ve made Greg a lopsided amigurumi koala, a beanie with monkey ears (seemed like a good idea at the time…), and a tea cosy with a skull on it (the best to date).  I knew Greg was partial to Starbucks coffee, so I figured I’d make him one of those sleeves you can put on your takeaway cup.  So I went skipping over to Ravelry to go pattern-hunting (yes, a tough job, but someone’s got to do it). And then I found it.  Becky Ferris’s NINJA TURTLE coffee sleeve!  And I knew I had to make it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Greg and I would rush home after school to watch these heroes-in-a-halfshell do battle with the evil Shredder (in the halcyon days before Mum and Dad outlawed TV-on-a-school-night) whilst little Jan and Peter lobbied for Playschool (they had no chance).  I would strain for glimpses of April O’Neill, the only female character in the show if you didn’t count dowdy Irma (and I never did count dowdy Irma).  April didn’t have any super powers or ninja skills, but she did have a walky-talky shaped like a make-up compact so she could call the ninja turtles to come rescue her whenever she needed it.  A true feminist icon.  One day, one blessed day, I would be as glamourous and rock a yellow jumpsuit with as much style as April.  And then the Ninja Turtles would be MY friends.

april

Our grandmother took Greg and me on a bus to Westfield Shoppingtown when we were small to see the first ever Ninja Turtle MOVIE.  Incidentally, Mama lived at home with our Brady Bunch family when we were growing up, so I guess that makes her ‘Alice’.  I remember sitting in the little food court after the film, sharing a tiddly oggie and talking nine-to-the-dozen with my otherwise taciturn older brother about live-action versus animated turtles and the limitations and benefits of each.

So while I knew what to make, and I had the green and white cotton yarn I needed, I still had to ascertain what size to make it in and what colour yarn to buy for the mask.  But if I asked Greg these questions, he would work out what I was up to for sure.  In the end, I sent him the following text:

“3 cryptic but important questions:
1.  What size coffee do you drink at Starbucks?
2.  If Jeff Daniels got into a chair-fight with Joan Cusack, who would win?
3.  Who is your favourite ninja turtle?”

My hope was that Joan Cusack would throw him off the scent.  He responded (unquestioning and within fifteen minutes) with the following:

“1. Double Short Soy Caramel Macchiato with no caramel (don’t ask…)
2. Jeff Daniels?
3. Raphael was really cool, but a bit of a dick.  I’ll have to go with Michelangelo.”

So.  Orange yarn.  But I had no idea what size coffee cup he was talking about and so, armed with the information he had given me, I headed off to the local Gloria Jeans (I live in Melbourne.  We don’t have that many Starbucks here as they’re seen as an evil threat to our café culture – but somehow GJ’s managed to sneak in unnoticed.  Go figure.).  I showed the girl at the counter the text message and asked what size cup would take a double short soy caramel macchiato without the caramel and if I could take an empty takeaway cup of that size to use as a model for the sleeve.

This was a trickier question than I had thought

“If it were here, it would probably be in a little cup, like an espresso, but Starbucks macchiatos are more like lattes, I think” said the nice girl at the counter to the barista, who had joined the conversation.

“Hmmm.  Yes, but then it says “short”.  Does that mean, like, a shot?” mused the barista.

In the end, they gave me every size cup they had and after some further investigation, I settled on a cup size and got to work (I left out the bit where I went off to buy cotton yarn and discovered it had doubled in price from the last time I bought it because it doesn’t really add interest, even though it did cause me much frustration!  Seven dollars fifty for a fifty gram ball!  OK, I’m over it, really I am)

Here’s how it turned out:

Turtle Power Cup

Hmmm.  Perhaps more a demented, goggle-eyed lizard than ninja turtle, but if you turn your head and squint…

So I posted it off along with some pictures and birthday cards from the kids.  And, a week later (too late for the actual birthday, alas!), Greg sent me these photos:

Fridge with pictures

The pictures have taken up residence on his fridge,

Ninja Turtle Soy Caramel Macchiato with no caramel

And the coffee sleeve fits!  Turtle power!

Beautiful Parties Magazine Fail – Part Two

All right.  Intermission over.  So the house was clean and decorated and everything was in place for Matilda’s Star Light Pyjama 8th Birthday Party.  Hmm.  Might have been quicker if the whole of the last post was condensed into that last sentence (at least, that’s what I can hear my older brother saying in my head – damn you, Greg!)

Here are some pictures I took the morning after of the boys’ decorating efforts with the aforementioned star-shaped post-it notes.

neat stars

Christopher Robin was very methodical,

messy stars

While Harry let it all hang out.

I was feeling a little nervous about the whole thing.  The party was to begin before Mr Knightley came home from work and while I had hoped Jan or Cindy (my sisters) might have been able to offer some moral support, it was the beginning of a busy long weekend and they were all booked up.  But I could manage, yes sir, no problem.  For I am Supermum.

When the guests started to arrive, the parents tended to remain on the (neatly swept) doorstep, and so did not get the opportunity to come in and marvel at the glory of my fully mopped and vacuumed home.  But no matter.  I reassured one of the mothers that the children would not be playing outside after dusk (her daughter is allergic to mosquito bites…) whilst another mum was staying to help look after her daughter, Matilda’s firm friend Phoebe , who has high-functioning autism.

There was a moment, as I stood in my dressing gown, while ten little girls exclaimed and fussed and became completely absorbed in decorating gingerbread stars, each on their own labelled paper bag, in an orgy of coloured sprinkles and cachous beads, there was a moment when I felt completely smug.  I had made it as a mother.  Some of the biscuits were pretty little works of art, while others were science experiments in the icing load carrying capacity of the biscuit, but every little girl was happily engaged and so was Christopher Robin (Harry was steadily eating one biscuit after the other – I hadn’t noticed and he knew he was onto a good thing).

Soon it was time to put the movie on.  There was no snuggling under blankets as it was still 35 degrees outside, but the girls happily plonked down on the couches and bean bags and jostled good-naturedly (ish) for position.  Within the first five minutes, several of the girls loudly announced all of the major plot points, taking care to elucidate on any particular surprise twists that we might not yet have been aware of.  Informative.  As I scrambled to prepare popcorn, Mr Knightley arrived home from work and I promptly despatched him to get pizza, with instructions to buy extra, as the girls had already demolished two large bowls of popcorn, a tube of Pringles and a large bag of chips in no time at all.

I think it was around this point that everything started to go wrong.  Several of the girls decided they’d had enough movie watching for the present and quickly got up and went outside; the rest of the party followed, tripping along as daintily as a small herd of baby rhinoceros.  In retrospect, it was unwise to plan so much of the party around watching a film, with no back-up activities should the movie fail to impress.

“You can’t expect kids to sit still and watch a movie – that’s not a party.” commented one wholly unsympathetic girlfriend the next day, echoing the voice in my head.

“Thanks for the tip, Captain Hindsight!”, I exclaimed in response (in my mind, a few hours later).

I watched helplessly as ten girls and two small boys jumped in unison on one trampoline, nervously eyeing the sun as it crept closer to the horizon (mosquitoes: remember?).

When Mr Knightley arrived with the pizza, the girls gathered around enthusiastically, shrieking and jostling and having shouty conversations as they ate (but they didn’t eat that much, for all that – we had heaps left over and it wasn’t long before the girls were looking for the next diversion.  I was beginning to wonder if Matilda set strict limits on attention spans in her criteria for choosing friends – or maybe I’m just getting all old and out-of-touch).

I don’t know if it was all the noise in a confined space, the sky-high excitement levels or the fact that there was no more orange fizz, but all of the frustration and stimulation-overload became too much for poor Phoebe and she launched stridently into what Matilda calls “one of Phoebe’s meltdowns”.

I was really glad that Phoebe’s mum had hung around and that she knew how to best deal with the situation.  Up until this point, I had regretted the presence of this grown-up witness to my abject failure as a party-planner, but now I watched with humble respect as she set to work diffusing and containing Phoebe’s noisy angst as she must have done countless times before.

It was at this point, as I optimistically put the movie back on, that the doorbell rang.  No, I must be honest with you, it was a little earlier than this point in real life, but the story flows so much better if we pretend it was at this point.  So let’s pretend.  I hope you don’t mind.

It was at this point (*wink*) that the doorbell rang.  And there, in my hour of need, standing on the doorstep having arrived heroically on a white horse (or in a white Ford Festiva, I can’t remember which), was Cindy who had decided to arrive late to her other engagement so that she could help out at her niece’s party.

When the film ended (much earlier than I anticipated), Cindy politely asked me to stop weeping and kissing her feet and then set to work running some games around the table whilst I prepared the cake.  Cindy has a lot of experience running children’s camps and is completely undaunted presenting icebreaker activities to a group of rowdy girls with no time at all to prepare.  Handy to have, in the way of party helpers, I must say.  After a couple of different games, it became apparent that what Phoebe would want, more than anything in the world, would be to present her magic show to the girls.

So Cindy got the audience ready and, after a couple of false starts, was underway, bantering confidently with the audience in the way she had rehearsed, delivering a show with so much flourish and panache, that it took me a while to work out that she hadn’t actually learnt any tricks.  But something magic was happening.  The girls, who had eschewed Walt Disney’s multi-million dollar computer-animated offering, were now giving Phoebe their full attention, clapping and cheering heartily at every ‘ta-da’ (the ball has disappeared because I threw it over my shoulder) moment.  They were not being patronising, either.  They were supporting their friend.

By the time we’d sung happy birthday, eaten cake, waved glow sticks about and demolished the Nigella jelly, we still had ten minutes to fill before the parents arrived.  Ten minutes can be a very long time when dealing with a group of restless and overexcited little girls and Cindy had left for the other party.    In the end, it was Mr Knightley who came up with the solution, and though I’m not proud of it, I’ll tell you what we did.

Now, please don’t write me angry letters, I know it was inappropriate, but Mr Knightley has hooked up our TV so it can play YouTube clips, and he put the music video for Gangnam Style on for the girls’ entertainment.  Accordingly, the parents arrived, crunching across a floor carpeted with popcorn, cachous beads, sprinkles and pizza topping into a room strewn with spent juice boxes and gobs of pink jelly to find their daughters bouncing up and down on the couches and singing “Heeeeeey SEXY LADY!”

Not my finest hour.

After we waved away the last of the party guests, Mr Knightley and I flopped down on the couch.  “We survived!”, he croaked, then I think he fell asleep.

As I sat there, I reflected that Matilda and her friends were not so grown up after all, and that this was far from being a bad thing.  Matilda came and sat on my lap, putting her arms around my neck,  “Thank you SO MUCH, Mummy!”, she exclaimed with starry eyes, “It was all so wonderful!  I can’t believe you VACUUMED for me!”

And, just like that, it was all worth it.