Tag Archives: kids

10 Short Takes … On Harry


This is embarrassing.  I came up with the idea for 10 Short Takes ages ago, thinking it would become a regular thing (not just for me, but for the entire internet).  And then I just sorta forgot about it.  But now I’m going to take it out and dust it off, because I thought of something else I could do with it.  So here are 10 Short Takes on my magnificent five-year-old, Harry.


  1. Harry does not enjoy dressing up.  Remember Book Week?  Recently, Harry’s kinder did a pirate day.   I tried to tempt him with skull bandannas and stripy tops, but Harry politely declined and insisted on his faithful dinosaur t-shirt/tracksuit pants ensemble.  When I came to pick him up at the end of the day, Harry was the only one not sporting a cardboard hat and/or eyepatch.  He was just Harry.paper pirate hat
  2. The following day (AKA not Pirate Day), Harry made a beeline for the craft table as soon as he arrived at kinder and constructed a pirate hat for himself. He wore it all day and has been wearing it off-and-on ever since.  I guess you could call him a late adopter…
  3. Harry worships his daddy.  Daddy features in most of Harry’s pictures and the only dress-up in the box Harry is interested in is an old, white business shirt.  When Annie wears this shirt, she is a doctor or a rocket scientist.  When Harry wears it, he is only ever Daddy Going to Work.
  4. Harry loves clocks. For a while, he took to wearing an analogue watch with no batteries.  Whenever he entered a room with a clock on the wall, he would adjust his watch accordingly.  For his birthday, Harry’s grandparent’s gave him a proper watch with batteries and everything.  It’s digital and the screen can light up in different colours.  This is the joy of Harry’s life, although he still wears the dead analogue watch sometimes, for old time’s sake.Harry's watches
  5. Harry’s uncle also likes clocks. He has a collection of expensive watches from Japan.  Harry enjoys sidling up to Uncle Greg and comparing watch features (Greg’s watch has GPS, Harry’s watch can make a cool beeping noise).  I think Greg enjoys this too.
  6. Harry’s favourite television show is Letters and Numbers on SBS.
  7. Harry and Annie are fast friends, though polar opposites. Annie is quite assertive and extroverted and loves to perform to a crowd.  Harry is introverted and can take a while to warm up to people he doesn’t know.  When Harry is feeling out of his comfort zone, he sticks with Annie to feel safe.
  8. Harry and Annie are also partners in crime. Recently, I caught them out.  Annie had helped Harry to push a stool into the pantry.  Harry climbed the stool to access a miniature green tea Kit Kat from a bag of treats Uncle Greg had brought us from Japan.  This he promptly unwrapped and snapped in two, giving half to his sister.I probably should have told them off more, but they were so darn cute solemnly munching their spoils that my heart just wasn’t in it.
  9. Harry’s favourite colour is dark brown.
  10. Harry does not like noisy crowds. When amongst loud strangers (or, indeed, loud friends and family), Harry will either sit quietly with his hands over his ears (a gesture Annie will often imitate, assuming she hasn’t managed to command the crowd’s attention so that she can sing them her favourite song), or find someone he trusts to answer his maths questions.  Crowds can be unpredictable and loud, so it’s comforting to know that five plus two is still seven, regardless.

Lunch Day Fail.

Zombie: eat flesh.

Please excuse my long absence from this blog.  I’ve been yearning to write, I’m just finding it hard to carve out time to do it in.  Also, I guess I haven’t found much to write about.  The first few weeks of school and homeschool have been very regimented, with everything working to a system.  I really wanted to write a decent ‘fail’ post.  I know they’re the favourites of many of my friends.  But, I guess I hadn’t had a proper, blog-worthy misadventure in a while.

This got me thinking.  What if I was finally getting the hang of this whole mothering malarkey?  Perhaps I was short on ‘fail’ material because I was finally experiencing unadulterated success?  Look at me: Capable Lady who makes sandwiches in bulk and freezes them, who writes fortnightly meal plans and shops accordingly, who gets the washing on the line before 8am.  I’ve made it.  I’ve finally made it.

But, even as my head swelled up to alarming proportions, I felt a small twinge of regret.  “Fail” posts are such fun to write and are such an important part of this blog.  I would miss them so.

That was yesterday.

Today, I slept in.

As I stumbled out of my room, I saw the small white envelope I had carefully placed at the top of the stairs, right where I wouldn’t miss it.  Ugh.

Last Wednesday, after school, Christopher Robin came rushing out of his classroom  “I have Subway Lunch!  The envelope’s in my bag!  We have to fill it out and get it in!”, he announced breathlessly.

Once or twice a term, Christopher Robin’s school does a deal with the local sandwich artists where the children can order a set lunch for $5.50 and have it delivered.  They usually do it on Healthy Lunch Wednesday (major marketing scam) with the money collected by Monday.

As soon as we got home, Christopher Robin dug the order envelope out of his mail bag, found a pencil and painstakingly circled his choices.  Ham.  Lettuce.  Cheese.  No tomato.  Orange juice.  Cookie.  Now all we needed to do was insert the $5.50 and send it back to school.

Except I had no cash.

No matter, we had plenty of time.  I got money out on Thursday, but still could not get exact amount together.  At any rate, Friday morning was such a manic rush, the order envelope never made its way to CR’s purple mailbag.  No matter.  We would get it all sorted out by Monday.

I spent the course of the weekend trying to preserve my $5 notes, only to have to spend them for various reasons.  I gave up all my 50c pieces at Mass when giving the kids coins for the collection plate – (the large ‘spiky’ coins are the only coins worth having, apparently).

On Sunday afternoon, we went to a cafe/bar to listen to my sister Cindy play some amazing original music.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but there is a lot of musical talent in my family.  Jan, Cindy and Bobby all write their own music and play multiple instruments.  This has nothing to do with the story, really.  I just wanted to boast.

Whilst my sister was busy being impressive, Mr Knightley worked systematically in his purchase of chips and hot chocolates to scrabble together $5.50 out of the change.  I zipped the precious coins up in my pocket.  Now I just had to get the envelope.

I started looking for it after I tucked the boys into bed.  Christopher Robin had placed it carefully on his dresser, but it wasn’t there any more.  To make matters worse, there was no lightbulb in their room (one of Mr Knightley’s novel punishments for a previous night’s skylarking).  Eventually we found it under one of the beds all crumpled up and a little bit torn.  I smoothed it out and put the coins in.  This was the very envelope I encountered at the top of the stairs this morning.

crumpled envelope

While I was putting cornflakes into bowls and clothing onto children, I put envelope in mail bag and gave to CR to put in schoolbag.  Then I went and checked that his swimming bag was packed with towel and goggles and bathers and all of the bits.

It being St Patrick’s Day, Christopher Robin wanted to wear something green.  I pointed him in the direction of an emerald green jacket he hardly ever wears and started herding everyone into the car.  As Christopher clambered into his seat, I noticed for the first time the enormous Union Jack emblazoned across the back of said jacket.  How had I not noticed that before?  It seemed historically inappropriate, perhaps even culturally insensitive, but we were running late, so I let it slide.

It was only after I took Christopher Robin to school, having been admonished by a teacher for my incorrect execution of a proper kiss-and-drop (should be less kiss/more drop, apparently); only after I dropped Harry at kinder and signed the book; only after I raced home, started homeschool with our regular prayer and got Matilda settled into her maths, that I noticed it.  A purple mailbag containing a lunch order envelope containing $5.50 exactly.

I needed to sit down.

As I sat, I pondered.  The school always makes a point of emphasising that the orders need to be in by 9am-no-later on the day they are due as they are then collected by the relevant sandwich creation officials and taken away.  It was 9:15.  I formed a plan of attack.

  1. I would call the school.  It was a little embarrassing, but unfortunately they know me by now and are used to my scatterbrained ways.
  2. If there was still time to get the order in, I would pack the girls into the car and drive  back to school.  It would be a pain to disrupt our homeschool routine, but at least today’s maths was easy and straightforward.
  3. If the order had already been picked up, I would call the local sandwich manifestation facility and do some fast talking.
  4. If my fast talking is successful, I will pack the girls into the car and drive to the local sandwich self-actualising unit to deliver the blessed envelope.  Perhaps Matilda could take her books in the car with her?

I was considering drawing this plan up as a nifty flow-chart with boxes and yes/no arrows , when it struck me that time was of the essence, so I picked up my phone and called the school instead.  As I garbled out my predicament to the school’s ever-patient secretary, she gently interrupted me.

“It’s Subway lunch day”

“Yes, I know the orders are due today, but I was wanting to know if they’ve been collected yet…”

“No, Kate, you don’t understand – today is the lunch day.  The orders were due Friday…”

“Oh.”  I said in a small voice.  So much for steps two, three and four.  I had well and truly missed the boat.  “Oh.  Well, that answers that question for me”  I then launched into a detailed description of the lunch I had packed, dwelling in particular detail on the piece of chocolate cake with the post-it note that said “Happy St Patrick’s Day” next to my rather wonky approximation of a shamrock.  Surely that was just as much fun?  Who needs edible artworks that use bread as their medium?  Surely a sandwich is a sandwich?  I almost had myself convinced when it struck me that the kindly school secretary might have other work to do that day, so I somehow managed to stop myself babbling and got off the phone.

This was a major fail and it haunted me all day.  Was it just me or did Christopher Robin look rather woebegone as he stepped through the school gates that afternoon, wearing his bright green tribute to Mother England?  I swiftly moved into a desperate frenzy of over-compensation.  I sat the children down at the kitchen table and pulled out the lollies left over from Matilda’s birthday party that had been off-limits for Lent.  Everybody got a snake and I told them the story of St Patrick and the snakes, even though I’m pretty sure that one’s apocryphal.  Then I gave them a musk stick and tried, unsuccessfully to bend it to the shape of a bishop’s staff.  The jubes looked like jewels, which are precious like our faith.  And the lolly teeth…well, I’m pretty sure St Patrick had teeth too…

Then I took a photo of them doing something wholesome


and promptly posted it on Facebook to gather some affirmation in the form of ‘likes’.  (They are cleaning new potatoes from our garden.  And it’s St Patrick’s Day. LOL. YOLO. *wink* #winning)

But, as I tucked my brave little six-year-old into bed that night, I could tell it was still on his mind.  “All of the other kids kept asking me why I didn’t have Subway lunch.”  he muttered glumly.

I kissed his tormented brow and promised him a Friday-morning-lunch-order (and stopped myself from also promising a jacuzzi, new set of golf clubs, a 4WD and a pony).  I told him I planned to write a blog post about the whole thing and this cheered him up considerably.  He’s been wanting me to write about him in the blog for a while now.

Meanwhile, the sight and smell of Subway sandwiches still sends me into a cold sweat.  I am no longer yearning for blog material.  If only I could write fail posts without having to experience the fail first…

Beautiful Parties Magazine Fail – Part One

So Matilda turned eight last week.  My baby girl is now officially a tween (ugh! I hate that word!).  And this year is a party year

As we have spent a good deal of Matilda’s lifetime rebuilding our house, this would be our first chance to have a proper “home party”.  And I really wanted to make it special.   Matilda and I could decide on a theme together and then I would hit Pinterest with great vigour!

So when Matilda suggested that she would most like a party in the evening, when she and her friends could eat pizza and watch a DVD, I felt a little crestfallen: it was a great idea, but it all sounded so very grown up.  Had my baby girl outgrown cupcakes and Pass the Parcel?

Matilda must have seen the expression on my face because she put her hand on my knee.  “Don’t worry Mummy,” she said soothingly, “you can still put up bunting if you want.”

I soon cheered up when I started to think about it.  The girls could wear their pyjamas and bring their favourite soft toy.  We could call it a ‘star light’ party and put up fairy lights and pretty candle lanterns and have star-shaped glitter everything!

In the week leading up to the party, I set to work getting ready.  I shopped, I made a big batch of gingerbread stars for the girls to decorate (I cut the star shapes and put them on the tray, Harry cut them and put them in his mouth); I baked a cake (Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake, because I was trying to channel Nigella, don’t you see?), I poured jelly into my lovely vintage-Tupperware jelly mould (ditto).  And I cleaned like you wouldn’t believe.

You see, Other Mothers would be coming to my house for the first time.  And many of these Other Mothers had not already formed (bad) impressions of how I keep house.  Yes, I know: vanity, thy name is Kate…

I have been known in the past to write out a full running sheet for my kids’ parties and I had every intention of doing the same for this one, but in the end I ran out of time and had to content myself with a sketchy timetable.  They would decorate biscuits when they arrived, then snuggle down and watch a movie with snacks and cosy blankets, eat pizza in the intermission, watch the rest of the movie, sing Happy Birthday and eat cake (and jelly!) and then go home with their lolly bags, happy and contented and full of good cheer.

I had been a little stuck on what to do for the birthday cake.  So I asked my friend, Jack Sprout (from Beautiful Parties Magazine) for advice.  And, oh, her face just lit up as her brain fired off one beautiful, creative idea after the other.  And her enthusiasm was infectious.  In a frenzy of inventive zeal, we decided on a bed-shaped cake with royal icing (the type you knead and roll out) for the cover and a tim tam for a pillow.  Then Jack almost fell over and couldn’t talk – what if I put a little crochet bedcover on top????

We both went home to think about what to do about the bed head (I deal with serious issues in my line of work).  Biscuit stick bed posts? A block of chocolate? Cardboard?  Then Jack called me on the phone: “this is probably a little over-the-top, but what about gingerbread?”

Yes, Jack, I thought, that is a little over-the-top.  I will not be making gingerbread. And I went out and bought a packet of bedpost-shaped biscuit sticks.

But I couldn’t get the idea of a cute storybook bed heads out of my own head.  With little cut-out hearts.  And then I figured I’d be making gingerbread stars anyway, and Jack had loaned me her very-cute biscuit cutters, I might as well make a bed head as well…

Incidentally, I used this excellent and very simple recipe from The Green Dragonfly.

This is the only picture I took on the night of the party and it’s not a very good one.  I’m really cross at myself for not taking any more pictures, which is why I’m probably going to be spending more time writing about this party than would be interesting to read about.

Matilda's Bed Cake

It doesn’t look as beautiful as it did in my mind.  I made a mess of the icing (how are you supposed to evenly dye that stuff?), the gingerbread got a little wonky, and I never made the tiny string of bunting I’d planned to hang between the bed posts (it would have looked so sweet!), but I did remember to put tiny teddies on the bed (after I took the photo, alas!) and Matilda was properly delighted with the whole rigmarole.

On the day of the party, we worked like crazy.  I strung up some fairy lights (from the Christmas tree) whilst Harry and Christopher Robin stuck star-shaped decorations (post-it notes) all over the house.  Matilda put lollies into little paper bags, Christopher Robin stuck star stickers on the little paper bags and Harry took the lollies out of the little paper bags and ate them.  I carefully vacuumed and put down a table cloth with the star biscuits, cachous beads and little tubes of ‘writing icing’.  I put the DVD (Disney’s Brave) into the DVD player.  Then we all put on our pyjamas (Matilda had a pretty new pair especially for the occasion).

And the little girls began to arrive.

I’m going to put an intermission in here as this is already a long post and we have a long way to go yet (oh boy, do we have a long way to go!)

But the scene is set, at least.