Tag Archives: misadventure

Fifteen Minute Fail

OK, so here’s what happened.

I got a voicemail from the office of our local member of parliament. Now it just so happens that our local MP is friends with my husband. I mean, they’re not BFFs, but they get along well together. In the voicemail, Brad-the-Staffer said that our MP was going to be at a media event tomorrow and wanted to make sure he had enough people there to protest the closing of a police station. My first thought was “Thanks, but no thanks!”. But then I considered the following:

  1. It would be nice to help our local MP out. He was a good egg and this was an issue he really cared about. What’s more, he’d been really helpful in the past at championing issues that we cared about.
  2. It would be on a Friday morning. We’d pretty much done all of our school work for the week already. And this could count as “Political Science” or “Media Studies” or something.
  3. I actually did want to protest the closing of the police station.
  4. The kids would get a real kick out of getting their faces on the evening news.

I had one argument in opposition:

  1. My face was covered in pimples. Literally. I don’t know if it was hormones or blocked pores or a very localised pestilence, but they traversed my face like a bright red constellation. It was not a pretty sight. It was not TV material.

But I could get around that one point. My makeup bag had been missing for a bit, but I’d recently found it at the bottom of the coat rack by the front door. Inside that makeup bag would be a tube of foundation. I didn’t often wear foundation, but I knew a light coating would do wonders to disguise my spots. I was all set.

The next morning (the day of the Media Event), after sorting out all the usual morning things (nappies, breakfast, clothes, nappies, coffee, dishes and nappies). I set to work. I tried to find something to wear that looked both “stylish and sophisticated” and “everyday casual”. Then I fished out my newfound makeup bag from its hiding spot and opened it up to get my foundation.

Except it wasn’t there.

I went on a crazy search rampage all over the house and the floor of the car making frantic strangled noises as I did so. But it was no good and I was out of time. I loaded the children into the car and headed off. I would stand near the back, preferably behind somebody in a large hat. I would help make up numbers. I would avoid all cameras.

We arrived late and out of breath. It looked like I was the only one who brought kids, so it was a good thing I had such an abundant supply. Somebody handed us posters to hold and I did my best to look unobtrusive and nondescript. I was a background artist. The more background the better.

Then the blandly handsome Man from the Network spoke to us. He looked vaguely familiar. As he talked us through the logistics of this media event, a few things became more clear to me:

  1. This was not a spot on the evening news. This was an article for the network’s current affairs program, best known for its advertorials, reality tv star interviews and exposès entitled “Is This Australia’s Shiftiest Tradesman?”
  2. Given that I was pushing a stroller containing two adorable little girls, I was required to stand at the front and towards the centre of our small crowd. Urk.
  3. I could feel the spots on my face growing larger in size. Really, I could.
  4. I worked out where I’d seen the Man from the Network with the game-show-host charm. I’m fairly certain I’d seen him asking accusing questions through the screen door of Australia’s Most Shameless Con Woman.

Once we were arranged into our positions, it was time for us to be filmed. The Man from the Network asked us to chant “WE WON’T COP THIS” and “WHAT A COP OUT” loudly and without cringing. And we stood there and we shouted the words because The Man from the Network had some strange hypnotic charm that we were powerless to resist.

After our impassioned slogan chanting, it was time for The Man from the Network to film individual interviews with concerned residents. To my great relief, plenty of people were willing to go on camera and have their say. While this was happening, I monitored my children as they balanced on the police station’s brick fence and chatted to the Shadow Minister for Police, whom I discovered is an absolutely lovely man, who also has a young family.

It was just as I was thinking “I could probably leave now and nobody would notice” that I turned and saw Guy Smiley and his film crew standing right in front of me. “We would really like to hear from you,” he intoned. I shook my head and apologised and made polite excuses, but then he smiled. And he had SO MANY TEETH. And they were so white. I found myself nodding helplessly and the camera started rolling.

Now, as I was getting ready that morning, my mind did explore what I might say in the event I was interviewed. Let me tell you, the Kate in my mind was so eloquent, so articulate, so intelligent. The Kate in my mind spoke of “knock on effects”, “unintended consequences”, and “furthermore, what compounds this problem…”. Naturally, it follows that once the camera was on me and the Network Man twinkled sympathetically and asked “As a mother, do you feel fearful for your children’s future in a world without police?”, I responded glibly “Errr… duh… police are…goooood…”

And it only got worse from there. A goodly portion of my fifteen minutes of fame will be expended looking like a measles patient and blathering on like a bewildered four-year-old. Oh help.

As I stumbled away in the wake of the interview, I once again met with the Shadow Minister (incidentally, I think somebody should write a series of graphic novels about “Shadow Minister”. Legislator by day – vigilante by night!). I was still feeling a little dazed. “I had some really smart things to say on this issue, but once the camera was rolling, they all flew out of my head and I couldn’t think of what to say!”

The Shadow grinned ruefully, “Welcome to my life!” he said.

Later that day, I purchased foundation, BB cream, tinted moisturiser, and two types of concealer. I also discovered the missing foundation in my husband’s car. I’ve been watching the current affairs show every evening. On Monday night, there was a special event that took up most of the episode. One of the survivors of the 2006 Beaconsfield Mine Disaster’s marriage had failed. The current affairs show in question had managed to secure rights to interview this man and his soon-to-be-ex wife. This also gave them the opportunity to get more mileage out of the exclusive interviews of the miners they purchased eleven years ago.

On Tuesday night, there was an exposè, entitled “Butter Price SCANDAL”. “SCANDAL” was in red letters, stamped diagonally across the title. But, still, no “cop out” story.

Wednesday and Thursday were still bereft of slogan chanting locals concerned about law and order, but all was not lost. I did find out that one of the actors from a hospital drama in the 90s is going to jail. Half the article was spent explaining who exactly this man is, which was very helpful.

“Maybe it’s taking so long because they need a lot of time to photoshop the spots off your face,” was Christopher Robin’s helpful suggestion.

I’m nervous. All my friends are going to watch my debut television performance, because even though I meant to keep it a secret, I also can’t resist telling a funny story. I’m going to receive a lot of teasing over this.

But I’ll just have to cop it.

 

PS. It did air. On Friday. I’m barely in it at all! If you squint, you can see me in one of the group shots, but mostly it’s Kate-free. I can only assume they tried to photoshop the pimples away, but as I was more spot than woman, they erased me completely.  You will be relieved to hear, however, that both slogans made the cut. If I were inventing this story, I wouldn’t have written it this way, but the real life version is a bit of an anticlimax!

Handbag Fail.

Kate's Handbag

I think I might have double pregnant brain.

Last week was Matilda’s birthday.  One of the presents I wanted to get her was a guitar case from Aldi (only $9.99!).  The only problem was, it didn’t go on sale until the actual day of her birthday.  Matilda, however, is a pragmatist like her father.  She assured me it didn’t bother her in the least if one of her presents was a note that said “I will buy you a guitar case today”, rather than the case itself.  We formulated a plan (one of the perks of homeschooling is that you get to take the day off for your birthday).

  • In the morning, Matilda would have breakfast in bed, followed by presents.
  • After we dropped Harry at the church for his Catechesis of the Good Shepherd session, we would whizz to Aldi to grab the guitar case and then whizz back to pick him up at the end of the session.
  • Then we’d head over to Ikea and have lunch with Daddy (who works nearby).
  • After soaking up the sights and sounds of this Scandinavian wonderland, we would drop by the library to pick up the book Matilda had reserved and was itching to read.
  • Then netball practice
  • Then home.  Matilda would get to choose what we had for dinner.

It was as we traipsed through the local shopping centre on our way to Aldi that we met our first roadblock.  But it was a delightful roadblock.  I ran into Lovely M and Pippi outside the café, where a gaggle of nice school mums were sitting.  How could I resist?

I mentally shifted my Aldi errand to later in the day, ordered a special hot chocolate for Matilda and recklessly abandoned myself to a feast of marvelous gossip.

I guess the next road block I came across was when we got to Ikea.  I must admit, I have a bit of a weakness for the Grand Nordic Palace of Domestic Loveliness, and it’s possible I might have passed this obsession predilection on to my eldest daughter.  We spent rather too long drinking free coffee, sniffing at candles and gasping in rapture at the insides of drawers and cupboards.  After a while, it became too much of a good thing (get DOWN off that pile of rugs, Harry!).

I had been a hostage in that baffling Swedish prison for so long, I was starting to identify with my captors.

"Knights of the Ikea Table"  King Arthur and his knights grapple with Allen keys

By the time we had extricated ourselves, it was already time to take Matilda to netball training.   I longed to go home to rest my aching bones, but then I remembered I still had to go to Aldi.  So I swallowed a sigh and pressed on.

As soon as we trudged through the automatic doors,  Annie announced triumphantly that she needed to go to the toilet.  Getting about with a toddler who is toilet training is a bit like carrying a grenade with the pin drawn.  You have to keep your wits about you.

I ushered us into the nearest Ladies toilet (Christopher Robin insisted on waiting outside) and heaved Annie onto the seat.  Realising that this might be a two-hand operation, I slung my handbag onto the hook behind the open cubicle door and stood in a half crouch, poised for action.

As it turned out, not much action was required.  (“I was just having a try”).  Annie, it would seem, is a connoisseur of public bathrooms, and outside Aldi’s was one she hadn’t sampled yet.

We were SO efficient when we got inside Aldi.  We just swept through there, grabbing everything we needed.  Thankfully, there were still plenty of guitar cases in stock (What if they’d sold out?  What if Matilda missed out completely because her mother was an irresponsible extrovert?).  It wasn’t until we sailed up to the checkout that I realized something was amiss.

“Ummmm,”  I said nervously to the man at the register, “I appear to be missing my handbag.  Might I go back and retrace my steps through the store?”

The man blinked at me and began to shift my groceries off the counter.  I dashed around the store twice, but to no avail.  I went back to my Register Man.

“Ummmm,”  I said, “it’s not there.  I might go check if I left it in the car…”

Register Man nodded blandly.

It was as I approached the automatic doors that it hit me.  The hook.  The toilet door.  I dashed to the Ladies’ toilet and darted into the cubicle.

It wasn’t there.

My mind started racing.  Perhaps some kindly stranger had handed it in?  Perhaps some lady with a gambling problem saw it as an answer to her prayers?  The toilet was next door to a TAB after all.  Perhaps some woman was plonking my handbag on the counter this very minute saying “Put it all on horse number twelve”?

I went back to Register Man, even though he was in the Zone, swiping groceries through the bleeper at top speed.

“Ummmm,”  I said,  “Has anyone handed in a handbag?”

Register Man shook his head.

“What should I do?”  I said

Register Man didn’t know.  Perhaps I could ask at the other shops?

I joined the queue at the Post Office.  The children wouldn’t stop pulling PostShop merchandise off shelves.

Post Office Lady suggested I go talk to Centre Management.  Centre Management was located at the very far end of the shopping centre.  I heaved a big sigh.

As I dragged my poor pregnant bones and my bored and grumpy children across the shopping centre and up a very long flight of stairs (Annie insisted on counting every step.  There were 43.), I reflected upon what I had lost.  I loved that handbag.  It was really something special.  My sister-in-law bought it for me in New York, and I always thought it the Last Word in handbags.  And all the things I had in it.  My wallet.  My phone.  My keys.  Oh Lord – MY KEYS!  How was I going to get home?  How was I going to pick Matilda up from netball??  How was I going to call her coach???

It was a very white-faced Kate who sidled into the Centre Management Office at the Other End of the Shopping Centre.  I rang the bell and waited.

“I’ve lost my handbag,”  I stammered to the lady who appeared behind the desk.

“Can you describe it for me?”  Desk Lady enquired, not unsympathetically.

“Um, it’s soft red leather, with the loveliest stripy lining in really nice colours…”

Desk Lady triumphantly produced my handbag and then patted my back awkwardly as I fell weeping on her shoulder.  I trekked back to Aldi, still reeling from post-traumatic shock (handbag) and the after-effects of Stockholm syndrome (Ikea).  I approached Register Man.

“Ummmm … I found it!”

Register Man looked uncomfortable.  They had already put most of my groceries back on the shelves.

I stumbled around Aldi for about the fifth time that day, blindly grabbing at groceries and forgetting about half of them (but not, thankfully, the guitar case!).  As I finally completed the transaction I began with Register Man half a lifetime ago, I had a look at my watch.

I was going to be late picking Matilda up from netball.

I handed each child an armful of groceries (we’d forgotten the bags) and we raced towards the car.  Go!  Go!  Go!  Everybody tumbled in and we played Escape from Aldi Carpark.  I don’t think we got a high score.  By the time we pulled up to practice we were twelve minutes late.  I apologized profusely to the coach and to my Birthday Girl.  Matilda smiled brightly at me as she clambered into the car.

“Did you get my library book?”

Book Week Fail: Part Two.

Before I start, I just want to say I am mortified at the amount of time it has taken me to write the sequel to this post.  I’ve been knocked about with a nasty dose of the flu and my laptop has been misbehaving a little as well.  The problem is, the longer the break since my last post, the more I avoid writing the next one.  I didn’t mean to build up this much suspense!  You’re going to find Part Two a bit of a let down after such a long wait!  Oh well, here goes…

I woke up super-early on the morning of the Book Week Parade.  Partly because I had plans to get everything organised and to arrive at school with time to spare (I was determined to get it right this year), but also because I had an early morning Skype-date with my sister, Jan.  I don’t say ‘conversation’, because these sessions are more likely to involve my children climbing all over me and shouting at the computer as they jostle for prime position.  They love their Aunty.  And the camera.

As bed-time in Britain was fast approaching, we bid farewell to Jan and I felt the familiar pang of distance.  I miss my sister so much.  But now it was time for weetbix and toast and uniform and matching socks and The Bunny Spoon (no other spoon will do for Annie’s breakfast).  I needed to get cracking on my own breakfast, too.  I’m one of those types who needs a proper high-protein breakfast to function on any level.  On a good day, I will have eaten breakfast and hung a load of whites on the line before the kids wake up.  I enjoy this semi-annual event, I really do.  Today, I was running a bit behind, but no matter.  I was able to beat eggs and shout at my children simultaneously (thankfully I didn’t get confused and shout at the eggs whilst beating my children).

Mr Knightley emerged wearing some hideous running clothes.  He was leaving early to drop the car off for a service (and would run to work from the mechanics).  I reminded myself that nobody would actually see his olive-green windcheater as he always kept a clean shirt and pants in his office and bit back any fashion advice I might have been tempted to share.

It was as I was saying goodbye to my husband that Harry somehow managed to tip an entire bowl of soggy weetbix onto his lap.  Ack!  I got busy with paper towels and the laundry sink and found him a clean set of clothes (“I hate the stripy t-shirt!”).  Things were starting to get a little hectic.  My FODMAP-friendly omelette was ready, but nobody seemed to be wearing shoes and I still had to make the lunches (too busy constructing costumes to remember to do it the night before…).

That’s when the phone rang.

It was my husband.

Here’s the general gist of our conversation:

  1. Before Mr Knightley left the house, we swapped keys.  He was taking the family car to the mechanics, I would drive the car he usually drives to work (on loan from my sister).
  2. The keys to his office were in my hand bag.
  3. He had an important meeting at 9am.
  4. He was wearing a truly dreadful sweatshirt.

I gaped.   I almost cried out “But you don’t understand – it’s BOOK WEEK!” before realising that things that are desperately important in Mummy Land bear no relevance in the rest of the world.  This did give me a moment of existential angst, I must say.  But then I took a deep breath,  allowed myself one look at the truly delicious omelette and steaming cup of tea before turning the stove off, clamping a lid over the pan and swinging into action.

I slapped sandwiches together whilst shouting “Shoes!  Mail Bag!  Put that down!  Time to go!”.  Then I scooped up the costume bits and ushered everyone into the car (after retrieving Christopher Robin’s shoes from under the trampoline).  We managed to get to Mr Knightley’s work by 9:05.  He’d already had a shower, so wouldn’t be too late for the meeting.  Then we raced back to school.

Saucepans

We were late, we were so late.  We had to park miles away and walk through the school carrying  the costumes and back packs and Annie (she wasn’t wearing any shoes).  When we got there, the parade had already started.  The kinder kids were already on the stage.  I wheeled around to face Harry. “Let’s get your costume on!” I said, in what I hoped was a cheerful voice.

Harry shook his head.

“Come on!”  I trilled, trying not to sound too maniacal.  “look at all your friends!  Won’t it be fun?”  I was already trying to dress him.  Harry started to panic.  “No!  No!”  he wailed, “I hate this!  I hate the Saucepan Man!  I want to be Woody!”

We don’t own a Woody costume, nor is Woody a character from a proper book (not counting spin-off merchandise), but I don’t think either of these arguments were going to convince Harry in this moment.  “Just the hat?”  I cajoled,

But Harry was shaking and in tears.

I should have known by now, Harry doesn’t do costumes (remember Christmas Eve?).  In fact, I really should have been grateful he was wearing clothes at all.  I heaved a big sigh, folded him up in my arms and found a place to sit.  His tears and snot were warm against my neck.

Christopher Robin had already gathered up his tray of Marvellous Medicine and hurried off to sit with his class.  I realised, too late, that I had never weight-tested the tray with all of its contents.  It was really heavy.  Christopher’s arms wobbled as he held the tray and his voice sounded a little strained as he told the school he was “George and the Marvellous Medicine”.  But he got through it like a champion.

Marvellous Medicine

This was the point where I was planning to sneak off home, but Harry was still sitting on my lap, his face firmly buried in my neck.  I had asked him coaxingly a few times if he’d like to sit with his class, pointing out all his little friends, but he just shook his head, without actually removing it from my neck.  I was going to have to watch the whole darn thing.

It was around the time the Grade Fives were on the stage that Harry looked up from my neck.  “My tummy’s rumbling,”  he announced, “I haven’t had any breakfast!”

I realised, with horror, that the only weetbix Harry had encountered before I bundled him into the car was the bowl he’d tipped on his lap.  His tummy growled.  Mine growled back.

“I haven’t had any breakfast, Mummy!”  Harry repeated loudly and insistently.  Several teachers and parents turned to look.  I smiled brightly and tried to reassure Harry under my breath.  This was the day I was going to convince everyone that I had it all together and homeschool was working out just fine, thank you very much.  Would the Book Parade never end?

At last it was time to gather everything together and walk Harry to kinder.  But the student wellbeing teacher was honing in on me.   She looked at me with a glance that took in my face, barren of make-up, my bored-looking nine year-old, my dirty-faced, pyjama-clad two-year-old, and the quivering four-year-old firmly attached to my leg.  She gave me a trademark warm smile that seemed tinged with concern.  I smiled bravely back.

I think she was trying to talk to me about Matilda’s ‘transition’ back to school, but her face had somehow morphed into a hot cheese-chicken-and-spinach omelette with a fresh pot of tea on the side.  I nodded hungrily.

Omelette

At Harry’s kinder, his teacher was taking photos of all the children in their costumes before they took them off to play.  At some point, I will receive a book week photo of Harry, dressed as  Harry, baring his teeth disconsolately for the camera.

I think I’ll put it in a frame.

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

potatoes

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…

Happy Birthday, Harry!

 

fake cupcakes

Harry is three today.  This is a picture of me putting icing and sprinkles on store-bought mini-muffins in an attempt to make them look like home-made cupcakes.  Then when we arrived at playgroup, I had Annie on my hip and Harry’s bag on my shoulder and I picked up the cupcake carrier sideways and all the fake cupcakes fell all over each other and all the icing came off.  Fail.

 

Label Fail.

Calm and Factual Label

I have this thing about label makers.

Something about those neat, white strips, calmly stating important facts in no-nonsense typeface just speaks to me.

I figure if I were to own a label maker, I would finally become Organised Lady. My household would run like a well-oiled machine. My children would arrive on Book Week Day wearing elaborate hand-sewn costumes. Friends would pop over for a spontaneous catch-up to find me relaxing in an immaculate house, the smell of a delicious, healthy treat wafting out of the (shiny, clean) oven.
I wanted that label maker.

But, I remonstrated with myself, such things really are an expensive extravagance. There really isn’t much I can achieve with a label maker that I can’t also achieve with a permanent marker and a roll of masking tape…

And I almost believed myself.

But then, last week, Mr Knightley casually commented that he’d seen label makers on special at the local stationery emporium. Was that something I could use?

When I had fully recovered my powers of speech, I reassured Mr Knightley, in an abundance of words, rapidly spoken, that I did indeed covet – er, need – such an object.

The Precious

Oh, just look at it.

I didn’t know it was going to be pink. I know it’s childish, but I love it when things are bright pink. I was thoroughly over-excited by my new acquisition.

But I wasn’t the only one.

It started when Harry took my label maker to a quiet corner, typed out the entire alphabet and then printed several labels to commemorate this achievement.

I admonished Harry, confiscated the label maker and placed it high out of reach.

Harry watched and waited.

The next time I pulled down the label maker, Harry was ready. The first moment my back was turned, Harry absconded with it to further investigate this mechanical wonder. This time, he managed to jam it all up. I firmly resolved, as I extracted scraps of twisted labels with my eyebrow tweezers, to keep the precious contraption out of reach at all times on the top shelf of the pantry, next to the Milo tin.
Which brings us to this morning.

After coaxing a particularly reluctant Annie out of a dirty nappy and into her cot for a sleep, I returned to the kitchen to find Harry covered in Milo. In the moments that followed, I took in the following information:

  1. A kitchen stool had been pushed into the pantry
  2. The label maker was now on the bench
  3. Harry had merrily printed off THE REST OF THE TAPE whilst sitting at the bench eating Milo

Here’s what happened next:

  1. I started yelling and storming about the house like a demented rhino, firing off abusive texts to my husband.
  2. Harry burst into tears and then rubbed his tear-stained Milo face all over my top.
  3. Christopher Robin walked through the floor-Milo and tracked it through the house
  4. Annie woke up.

Label Maker Mess

I had a read over the warranty, but there’s nothing in it to cover the wanton destruction brought about by insane two-year-old saboteurs…

My one consolation is that Dymo – or, indeed, Milo – might approach me with an endorsement deal for introducing my readers (yes, both of them!) to the wonders of their product.

Perhaps they could pay me in label cartridges?

Health Nurse Fail.

Earlier this week I was struck with a sudden panic: the last time I made an appointment with the Maternal and Child Health Nurse, I didn’t write the appointment in my diary.  And it was a double appointment for Annie and Harry!  And these appointments are really hard to make!!  What if the appointment is today? What if I’ve already missed it??

As soon as I got home I dug out the green book and checked the appointment time: not till Wednesday!  Phew!  I checked the book again yesterday – 1:30pm – easy!

Mr Knightley gave Annie a thorough bath last night and I made sure she was dressed in her most respectable clothes this morning.  I gave the boys an early lunch and then coaxed Harry out of the mud and into the bath for a righteous scrubbing.  Once I put Harry into his least raggedy clothes and locked the back door so he couldn’t get muddy again, I bundled the three of them into the car (after first sending Christopher Robin back to change his favourite (broken) sandals into respectable shoes with matching socks).  I figured I’d get there early so they could have a play at the park next door beforehand.

You can imagine my immense sense of smugness as I sauntered into the health centre at precisely 1:25pm.  I had forgotten nothing: both health books, bunny rug, change of jumpsuit, nappies, crochet workbag, phone, tissues, keys, three children, wipes – all there.

One of the health nurses approached me with a concerned look on her face.  Who was I there to see?  Everyone was out.  I faltered for a moment – I’d only seen this new health nurse once before and couldn’t remember her name.  She prompted me – was it Jenny?  Yes! Jenny!  Jenny was out.

The first few seeds of doubt started to edge their way into my consciousness.  Oh! But! I said with renewed confidence, I AM a little early (oh yeah!)…but perhaps I’ll just double check the appointment in my book.

So I pull out my book and take forever to find the stupid page.  And I take a proper look at the date for the first time. Oh no! I say, I’m a week early!

The nurse points again at the date with a kind smile:  I was also a month early.

WHAT is WRONG with my BRAIN??!!

The receptionist, who by now had joined the conversation, along with another health nurse, said I could come in and have a sit while the boys had a play anyway.  It would give me a chance to ‘collect my thoughts’.  They were all very kind (and, I suspect, quietly concerned).

MY BRAIN!  What is wrong with my BRAIN??

I sat down with my diary and worked at being organised for about ten minutes. Then we went home.

I can’t even explain how I can manage to bring daft-ness to a whole new level.   I made a cake once we got home just to give my confidence a boost (with a side-product of comfort food)

Hmmm.

Roast Fail: The Sequel

An update:

The house still smells like roast beef

Harry did it again to the meatloaf tonight but I discovered it before things got too bad (still burnt, though).

While out with my Mum today, Christopher Robin commented that he and Harry had put a wash on, but hadn’t yet set it off and that he would remember to “press start” when we got back home.  It being 9:30 in the morning, I responded to this with “was that a dream you had, darling?”  Christopher Robin assured me that this was no dream, he and his brother had quietly achieved it whilst I was breastfeeding Annie that morning and that “Harry put too much powder in”.  I made a mental note to try to fix the situation when I got home, gently admonished Christopher Robin for putting a wash on without Mummy (“Harry started it.”) and got on with my day.

Later this afternoon, whilst preparing dinner (the ill-fated meatloaf) it struck me that I could hear the washing machine running.  True to his word, Christopher had turned on the washing machine.  Just as he said, Harry had indeed put too much powder in, on and around the machine – almost the entire box, scoop by wobbly scoop (it has always been their favourite part of the process).  There were a few items of clothing in there, too, but I think the powder proved to be more fun.

Just so you know yesterday wasn’t a one-off…

Roast Fail.

Once a fortnight, I’ve started this thing where we try to have a Sunday Roast.  Every time I open the freezer, I see the meat ready for roasting and I wink at it and whisper “soon!”.  Today was Roast Day.  I’ve been known in the past to let the day get away from me before getting the roast on and thus have a late dinner with psycho children too tired to eat, but not so today!  At 1:30pm I lovingly salted and oiled the meat, placed it on a bed of onions and surrounded it with garlic.  I chopped and parboiled the veggies and put them in the oven too.  I then turned the oven right down low, put on the exhaust fan and got the kids ready to go see my grandma. When we got home we would have roast!

On the way home from the hospital it was bitter cold and pouring down rain.  As we drove along with headlights on, we all shared one smug thought:  Roast.  Put children in warm pyjamas, fill their bellies with roast beef and they’ll be in bed asleep faster than you can say “Downton Abbey”!

As we pulled into the driveway, I said in my most important voice, “Mr Knightley, you unload the kids.  I must go in and check on The Roast!”

My first sign that something might have gone wrong was the smell of smoke.  It would seem the roast had ‘caught’.  Then I got to the kitchen.

My delightful two-year-old son, who loves to help Mummy in the kitchen, had turned the oven up to maximum before we left the house.  The kitchen was rather smoky (would have been much more so, had the fan not been on).  And the Roast was a blackened crisp.

Many things happened then:  I stormed about the house yelling to no one in particular about how hard my life is;  Matlida burst into very loud, impassioned sobs to which Mr Knightley and I (I’m very ashamed to say) growled in unison “Don’t YOU start!”;  Harry, confused as to why everyone seemed so cross at him, set to destroying the house with a kitchen whisk; Christopher Robin asked “what’s for dinner?” and Annie gurgled and kicked in amusement.

Mr Knightley, with an air of grim determination, retrieved the smoking, shrunken black mass from the oven and tried to carve it.  Beneath the thick black crust there was a little bit of good meat to pick at (Mr Knightley gave me the nicest piece).  It felt like Tiny Tim’s family from A Christmas Carol.

We had tinned soup and toasted muffins for dinner.

Afterwards, as we were cleaning up, Mr Knightley did a bit of wistful poking around the charred remains of what were once vegetables and presented me with a small morsel of onion.  “Taste this” he said in a kind voice “It’s perfectly caramelised”