Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bah Humbug

Apparently, there is only 4 weeks until Christmas. How did that happen? Didn't we just have one?

Here, I face the relentless tide of Christmas cheer (both V and 'Salina are big fans of the whole she-bang) just waiting the starters gun. Being the holder of said gun (by virtue of being the holder of the voice of reason) I am very stern in my "no Christmas until December 1". If I could get away with a later date, I would possibly try it, but it is hard enough holding to that one.

I do love Christmas.
  • I love the fact that the food is so good (especially the mangoes).
  • I love the swimming and excuse to laze around all day (except for the never-ending washing up and food preparation).
  • I love the giving and receiving of presents (well, the underlying who spent how much on who and who broke the "no big presents" rulings - oh, and the darned "oops, we didn't factor Christmas in when we did the budget" black clouds sort of dim the cheer).
  • I love the fact that it is ONE DAY in the calendar. Read that folks - ONE DAY.

  • I can handle a lead time for a bit of socialising.
  • I understand that the post office needs a few days to distribute the cards - heck, if I ever remember the cards, I often give them all of January to do so.
  • I know that at some point I will have to face the shops and try to stretch the few bucks I have stolen from next year's prosperity plan into something resembling cheer for my ever expanding network of family and friends.
  • I know that I will then scurry and attempt to concoct or create a few more gifts to show my care and consideration for them.
  • Yes, houses do look pretty with lights, and I am up to a tour of those who wish to spread the joy in that way.
  • Tinsel gathers dust, blu tack works into carpet and sticky tape leaves marks - that is why we have a tree, so it can all go in one spot - much easier for dismantling before New Year.
  • I have even been known (and don't you DARE repeat this to anyone) to open my mouth and actually sing during Carols.

But not before December 1 - please?

(Oh, and note to V and 'Salina - I swear, those 4 notes I whistled yesterday were just 4 unrelated notes, and not the first line of an obscure verse of a Christmas Carol - and it does not give you permission to start humming louder or accidentally breaking into song. Just remember who is the dictator here and we will survive the next 3 days.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Level Above

the little tasks I assign myself on my infamous "lists" are those that adorn the whiteboard.

That pivotal point in my family's organisational strategy has a variety of hurdles that stand between us and Nirvana.

There is 'Salina's section - "make horse book" and "fill money box" are her constants, although she occasionally will throw on "got to beach this weekend" - ahh, the simple life...

V's section has had a list of chores from several weeks ago when we were away and he wanted to have the home ready when we came back. Of course, not putting "clean whiteboard off" as one of your tasks can make you come undone. Hey honey? 'Salina also puts a little "shave" memory-jigger on his section from time to time.

The "family" section has "Organise Wedding", "find school hat" and "garage sale?" as well as beach-going strategies.

My bit - well, there are a growing list of people to ring, business things to do and my larger "housefrau" tasks.

AS I live in Paradise, the view can be marred by dust from neighbouring developments, salt from the sea breezes, mud-drips from frisky wasps and ill-aimed fertilisation available from our avian friends.

As a result, on an at least annual basis, I get all houseproud and determine CLEAN FRONT WINDOWS should feature on the whiteboard of anticipation.

This will generally get it out of my system and buys me a few more weeks, until the stars align and a more pressing demand from another part of the whiteboard make this task a suitable procrastination tool.

Unfortunately, I failed to take the before shots - but I present to you:

(I also did the whole of the rest of the room, but that was not on the whiteboard...)

V is having a day of rest today, as it was declared a rain day bog day.

When I was complaining about having to fake my OCD with such Shannon Lush behaviour, he (the holder of the family OCD tendencies) ducked my pointed suggestion very well.

My concern at that time was for all the fiddly bits in front doors.

"When we next see the need for a front door, it will be flat." I told him (in my dictatorial manner).

"You could have just brought a hose upstairs and washed the house" he said. "At least you don't have to worry about upper storey windows" he said.

He then apologised profusely when I motioned to the dozen large hoppers awaiting my attention not 2 feet away!!

Now, to wipe that one off the whiteboard!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Democratic Process

Just to notify you in advance, that if my political preferences were a colour, they would probably be either purple or rainbow.

ha ha - my daughter's favourite colour answer was always rainbow when she was younger - but I digress...

Yesterday, as well as sharing the joy and delights of the Family Fun Day at school, we had a democratic duty and vote for the politician of our choice.

The way that it works here is that you get to vote for a Local Member who forms part of the House of Representatives and his/her alliance with a political party helps to decide who forms Government and therefore who is the Prime Minister.

If one single candidate doesn't get over 50% of the vote, then the person with the least votes gets crossed out and the people who voted for that person gets their second preferences counted - and so on down the line - until one single candidate does.

I had six choices, therefore six numbers to put in the little boxes beside each person. Five of those people had political parties beside them. Honestly, until I walked in to the booth, I had only heard the names of two, and they were generally accompanied by expletives (or the ilk) by the other. One is the sitting member of our very safe conservative seat. The last time it went Labor, the Labor member got kicked out of the party and has been shafting them ever since. I never know who I am going to vote for until the last minute because I want all the information - and frankly, knowing that your vote will make no difference to the end result, just the "margin" makes it even more futile.

'Salina wished to know how everyone voted. Her political opinion was "if you voted for Rudd it would be bad, but if you voted for Howard you would vote for Cars-tello" - a great precis of the advertising we get.

You also have to vote for the Senate, where 3 representatives from each state (or thereabouts) get to join three who are there from the last election. Here it is more about party allegiances and blah de blah de bloody blah de crapola. I hate politics. There were 65 numbers we could have assigned in this mob OR you can put 1 number against your political party of choice. I once did the number thing - I think there were only 40 odd at that stage - but it would be interesting to find out if anyone actually did vote beneath the line.

I have spent the last twenty years six weeks hating this bloddy election, mainly because I have so many people close to me so passionate about the crap on BOTH sides of the political divide, and while I am very passionate about a lot of issues, I realise that politics is all about voting for politicians, and I hate the fact that politicians are humans who have had their blood sucked out and replaced with politics, their minds programmed by party alliances and the term "good for the nation" is tinged with whatever colour their flapping flags are.

I used to be someone who enjoyed a good argument. Now I realise I am a person who likes to be optimistic have warmth and joy in my life. Politics is a cold vacuum that seems to suck at any of that.

Can you tell I am sick of it? Thank goodness it is over.

I know, I know how important it all is and how it will shape our future and what this really means...

No more will I have relatives tell me how Labor is going to stuff the economy and how bad it was when Keating/Hawke/Whitlam was in office for their industry. No more will my they espouse to me, wanting either an argument or for me to roll over and play dead, signifying anyone who has a social conscience will do the same come the big day.

No more will I have friends tick off the lists of the evils of little Johnny and his gang and how he has been putting the screws on all the values of humanity and decency.

No more will the tv be telling me that Labor will cause your children to die from needle stick injuries in the playground or that Liberal has already caused global warming.

Of course now I will have family members peeved with me because I don't take the economic implications seriously and I will have friends upset because they thought every logical person should be in agreement about the social issues.

You are both right and I am so glad that it is over and out of my hands.

Whoo - that was more of a rant and I will just wipe my guts up from your monitors. Sorry folks.

I was going to be light and review the election coverage from you (3, and at times 4 stations of 5 so plenty to review - made me wish I was a Star Wars fan), but it seems I had something to say with my vote...

Channel 9 - enough with wanting to be seen as technologically savvy. Honestly? The shredder was good for a single impact, not constantly, and please, work out with the guys in graphics how to keep it on the screen, because it looked like you got the work experience kid to generate it. So Channel 9, though - they get what could be a good idea, flog it without looking at how it could be expanded either way.

Channel 7 - Newstopia did a great spoof the other night about the journalist-free coverage on offer on this station - unfortunately, the parody was so close to the reality it was cringe-worthy.

Channel 2 - (psst Kerry - your red was showing) It was good when they were looking at statistics - they do a great job on statistics.

SBS - I loved the fact that SBS waited until there was something to actually talk about before they began their coverage, rather than talk trends from 67 votes counted.

John Howard - only caught the end of his speech. It sounded quite gracious. Of course, the 10 minutes of it we saw he failed to mention the words "Labor" or "Rudd" but hey, maybe his speech had been going on a bit by the time we resumed watching after other more fun election night offerings.

Kevin Rudd - wow, was he stoked. A statesman's speech but hell, I suppose you only get to make your primary acceptance speech once in a lifetime. A few great phrases that obviously they knew were great phrases, as they were used several times in the speech.

I hope to goodness that all that was said was true, and that this will be a changing government where change is needed (environment, education, health, IR, social policy), a government for all the people (including the bastards deluded who failed to see the winds of change) with a strong economy.

Thats all I ever wanted, really.

Friday, November 23, 2007


I woke up this Friday morning with a clear head.

I get to spend most of my day being Tuckshop Lady.

I get a break in the middle to move the washing along.

I get to finish in time to do the groceries.

I have enough money in the bank to do the groceries.

We are having Boy-Next-Door and his mother over for dinner tonight (to share our dinner with, not to eat them).

Tomorrow is Election Day. No more political bullshit advertising, espousing and blatant mudslinging.

Tomorrow is also Family Fun Day at the school. 4 hours of screaming children on rides, 1 hour of flogging raffle tickets, 1 hour of flogging plants. I am really glad they only gave us 10 days notice on the plant thing, as that means no-one had time to get any ready, so I may have nothing to flog there.

Sunday is my day of rest. So I will do the rest of the garden - it and I both need the contemplative moments.

Although I always have a sense of impending doom at the back of my head thanks to my workaholic tendencies combined with my procrastination, its days like these that take it all out of my hands.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

For all of those who tire of my "I conquered the world" posts

You know, those days when I go so darned well on my list and I actually get down to blogging at the end; or those days when I get so darned inspired by my list I blog about it in anticipation?

Wasn't today.

Today started well - no sense of doom or foreboding.

Put on the washing - figure with the number of loads it should be finished by next week.

Started the washing up and made tea for me and coffee for V.

Did the breakfast/lunchbox/morning ritual with 'Salina and set her on the school bus.

Noticed I had not drunk very much of my tea, but decided to check my i-world before doing any more or had my own breakfast.

Hmm. Noticed my skin starting to get hot and cold and clammy. Noticed my vision blurring and a jackhammer politely tapping at behind my right ear.

Made a quick phone call where I was given some good and loving advice to get a lemon when I went to the shops, as lemon under the tongue will help offset the dreaded migraine.

Decided to hit the local shops as didn't know if I would be up to the 15 minute each way drive to the big(ger) smoke.

Local shops did have turkey - surprise I fleetingly thought about for my Californian-born darling. Smallest piece was 2.6kg - solid frozen - recommended 18 hours thawing time each kilo. Yeah, right. The fact that there was no price on any turkey articles sealed the deal - rule of thumb is if they aren't willing to tell you how much, they want a whole lot more...

Went to the butcher's for some steak. If my darling V could not have traditional Yank fare on this day of thanksgiving, then I could at least offer his favourite food.

Forgot to get a lemon.

Got home to find him already home, with pains from feet, knees and back. I advised him of my head so we slept together.

All day. And unfortunately that was all that we did.

Got up at 2, took more panadol, went back to bed.

'Salina got home at 3 - migraine had laughed heartily at the panadol offering and was now moving into other territory.

She had a bad day at school, as while she and another girl were making a surprise card for Girl2, was accused of talking about her and cold shouldered for the rest of the day, culminating in Girl1 and Girl2 kicking her seat on the bus all the way home, taking and tossing her hat and throwing around her bag while saying mean stuff.

Sigh. I wish I knew how to handle 8 year old girl politics.

She then did homework with V and then swam in Boy-Next-Door's pool, watched DVD with Boy-Next-Door and ate some pizza at Boy-Next-Door's house. I love having Boy-Next-Door next door! (oh, and his mum!)

The steak went in to the freezer. I had dry toast and V mentioned making a sandwich.

It has finally lifted enough for me to be here to fill you with such cheer...

And I am so very thankful.

Clothes still need to be pegged.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Instead of whinging

I had a half written post whinging about other people's children, but I have had such a lovely afternoon and evening that I have just tossed it into the draft bin (and that feels so much better).

This afternoon, it loomed that I had several L-A-R-G-I-S-H jobs to face when I got out of my regular Friday tuckshop lady disguise.

While I crowned in my success in getting the front lawn mowed Monday Morning!, the back did not fare so well.

Monday afternoon I was buggered a little tired; Tuesday was Guides; Wednesday I ended up working; Thursday I also meetinged, worked and grocery shopped to arrive home just before 'Salina, and honestly no tears were shed when rain loomed large - but today I HAD to, as the mossies were getting way to friendly and were seriously casing the neighbourhood.

I attempted to fire 'Salina into action to get her big project done by Monday (document and build a boat), but she is set to learn a life lesson and I have too much on my plate to contemplate how to bubblewrap her on this one. Instead she chose to see what Boy-Next-Door was doing.

Well, he was cycling and mucking about, only too happy to have a playmate and easily persuaded to ask his Mum if they could have a swim in their pool.

So this-bad-mother then donned the workgear, sunscreened up, cleared the back yard and fired up the Rover.

Aside from the baling twine incident (makes a lovely sound in the rotors, doesn't it?), the fuel mix richness after I checked for the baling twine (makes a lovely cloud that happened to highlight the downside of mixing laundry and mowing day) and the injury one received when one drops the mower onto an unshod (I know, I know) toe upon ripping the starter (I did a compensatory hobble for about two sweeps of the yard - great self-pity session I ended up laughing at) it was a very fulfilling little job - my grass-clipping mountain range at the side of the house is now becoming Great Wall of China-ish, and I am contemplating applying for a government grant for artistic interpretation of the sub-tropical back yard.

Then V got home and was duly appreciative of my enthusiasm and determination lawn-wise (I had time-managed it so there was still enough of a "before" strip to show the sheer enormity of the task undertaken when he did arrive).

'Salina and Boy-Next-Door conspired with his mother to watch a movie and eat ice blocks and ham and cheese sandwiches, so there was an hour and a half of child-free time to have us some amazing passion - in the kitchen, with our preparations for a feast.

When 'Salina arrived home, we partook. It was delicious - under-appreciated by the middle one, but hey, I am long over pandering to her narrow taste definitions. So long as she eats some, eats some more of the healthy and doesn't make too much fuss we all get along just fine.

Then we got to see her full haul from visiting her father's family last week for their belated celebrations of her birthday - and she did really well!

She is in bed now. V noticed I had left my work gear on the bathroom floor - a habit we are attempting to break in 'Salina - my defence is that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to wash them before we headed off in the morning, but a point is a point is a point and V made it very well when he loudly chastised me for it, with 'Salina cheering on!

So, what do you think my punishment should be, huh? I suggested that maybe I should be forced to do all the laundry next week too...

I am off to the 'lations in the morning for the weekend. A weekend filled with cousins and horses for 'Salina, so her life is complete. V may or may not be working, so he may or may not travel over with us or he (the other) come over tomorrow afternoon. There is opportunity for some quality Central Queensland socialising, although I also do actually work when I get over there, so may concentrate on getting them squared away with that so I can do more family oriented things on Sunday.

See you then!

Edited to add:

Night was topped of by catching a new show on Channel 10 - Outrageous Fortune - a Kiwi show that had us cracking up! Apparently Channel 9 bought and buried it last year, but 10 will hopefully keep showing it, because we will definitely give it another viewing! We got the first episode of the 2006 series, so there is plenty ahead of us.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Where are my feet?

Well, I was going to update you with part 2, but (a) I ran out of time, (b) it was too boring (well, it wasn't in real life, just in print), and (c) both of the above.


So Friday I trained then drove - and drove and drove again - across from Armidale to Coffs Harbour (if only the weather was better, if only I wasn't such a time-efficient driver, if only the camera were of better quality I could have shown you some wonderful scenery on the drive).

Coffs Harbour is where I hopped onto the Pacific Highway - our country's busiest highway. I knew there was a blogger who lived around there somewhere - but I did not see a tandem on the road, nor any netball carnivals so have had to break the sad news to her since returning. I drove within 1km of her house, apparently!

Then I got to Brunswick Heads, and the new upgrades make it freeway heaven. Unfortunately, the directions I got online had not accounted for this change, so another 20km detour got me back to where I was to meet with some friends. On Friday it was seafood with her and 2 other friends.

(I have discovered the way to ease pre-menstrual tension - sit me at a table with other women and lots of food - I ate my way through the next 30 hours).

Sunday I again packed the car, and headed North. I collected 'Salina from her relatives, popped in to various other locations where she had left / my sister had delivered various items of her wardrobe and homework. I still have 2 pairs of shoes and 1 hat outstanding.

We arrived back to rapturous welcomes from Eddie and V - and collapsed.

Since then I have been working, self-training, doing business books and self-promotion, washing, ignoring the floors and windows and trying to catch up.

Yesterday welcomed in "the visitor" with no trumpeting migraines! I also got a few calls where I could go earn more money if only I am prepared to drive 4-500 km each way - hmmm - doable, just not every week.

Today I also went in to the school to help the teacher for an hour - I am so glad I only have one child, and that she is not any one of at least half a dozen that would send good teachers out of the system.

Egads - thank goodness generally I only have to help adults learn in situations where they actually want to learn.

So - here ends another boring update - I will try to live a more interesting life soon - just when I can get out from under all the detrius of life.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Back in Paradise - Part 1

Ahhh - it feels so good to be home. Its so good to just - be - and be here with no drives in front of me, no "OMG you have to do this today"s pressing down on me. Ahhh - the little joys in life.

On Wednesday I drove South - I even drove a few clicks further South than I intended for my first appointment, that is what happens when a downpour coincides with trucks and traffic and freeways and looking out for "the second exit to Mooloolooba" - but it all worked out well and I had deposited daughter with her first set of carers.

Then I drove further South, and further and further until I was not even in my old time-zone any more. After 12 hours of driving I finally stopped...

When I packed, I contemplated possibly putting in a cardigan but at last minute decided to put in some longer sleeves and a wrap as well - thank goodness. The maximum predicted for Thursday was 15 - our coldest in Winter was 12, so 15 is a very low number in my register!

I undertook training all day Thursday - it was great, and if any of you need some assistance putting together your stock records, from Embryos, Semen and joinings through to integrating a yards system I am now your girl!!!

Thursday evening, wandering the shops was warmer than contemplating the motel room, so I searched high and low for something mindless and trashy to read in a bubble bath - there was possible many tomes that fit the bill, but not for the price I was willing to pay or at the outlets I went to, so I settled for the new Shannon Lush magazine, some Radox and some very ordinary Indian takeaway.

Friday morning woke with some excitement - I had woken from a dream involving drinking wine at boarding school (as you do) at 2.45 in the morning - and got to hear the cut and thrust of concreters riposte. I wonder about the sad disintegration of the cursive language in the modern trade world after such an experience, as no longer is there colour and expression, but a mundane repetitive use of the word "f*ck". Finally, my mother saying "it reflects on poor language skills" is a truism. After I had spoken with a higher power about ensuring that no lives were to be lost in the exchange (although I do think a job was lost) I managed to drift off again.

More training on Friday morning - so not only can I fix all your stock headaches, but I now have the skills of another accounting package under my belt (to join my existing armoury)!

Then I saddled up the car again, and this time headed East.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Ides of November

Well, my interesting week to come and thus far I think it might have more to do with providence colliding with nicotine withdrawal than with auspicious stars.

Yesterday we put up the swing set without any major relationship fall outs, which I have had said to me is the first test. I have also learned that just because an idea crosses my mind, it is not a fantastic idea to then weave it into perceived reality and then disappointment when it does not happen AT THE EXACT MOMENT I think it should happen. It did happen, and it happened before the world collapsed - which was in God's (and V's) infinite plan, no doubt.

I also finally finished washing all bedding and clothing littering my laundry. Well, we would have had I remembered to put anything in to 2 of the loads. See, I have a method to my laundering that goes thus:
  1. Sort washing into n loads.
  2. Put in powder into machine.
  3. Manually turn on hot water tap.
  4. Start machine filling.
  5. Start pegging out.
  6. At a provident moment go back to the machine.
  7. Manually turn off hot water tap to save the entire downstairs from flooding.
  8. Load the clothes in to the washing machine.
  9. Hear the machine stop filling.
  10. Swear and dash inside.
  11. Manually turn off hot water tap to save the entire downstairs from flooding.
  12. Load the clothes in to the washing machine.
  13. Finish the pegging.
  14. When the load finishes, manually switch it to spin cycle.
  15. Unload the clothes into basket.
  16. Repeat the steps 2-15 n times - or n + x times, depending on how many times you forget step 8/12.

I blame swing set construction distractions for my x=2.

But now all the washing is finally done and dusted. Which just makes the sad old 3 year old shelf space Electrolux Front-loader a more dominant feature. Sigh, I have calling my lovely friends at LERF on my to do list today.

As are several little jobs, a promotional blitz and organising a trip away at the end of the week - by 3 today - so won't be here long.

Both Saturday night and Sunday did not fall into the "restful" category, as I had the most vivid dreams where I could have sworn I was awake - but really, really tired.

Saturdays involved making out with V on a school bus, being busted by his cousin, meeting an extended (and rather judgemental and nasty) family, lots of food, accusations of not being Christ-like (what the?) and V getting progressively younger, until as my 17 year old boyfriend unrecognisable.

I awoke, thought that it was strange, went back to sleep and proceeded to have the same dream over. Some bits were changed - the extended family grew to include my extended family including the outlaws, a gay couple I don't know and some other friends; my ex-BIL was very obnoxious and my aunt bawled him out, the gay couple were caught making out and we had a discussion and 'Salina was a nightmare in sass and behaviour, leading me to not get any food and then accused of not being Christ-like.

Last night, I had many vignettes, but all so real that I truly panicked at a few turns.
  • My father bought me a four-wheel drive that came with a boat, a coat, toys in every pocket and was part of some new film promotion.
  • I stayed at a friend's parent's house but I couldn't remember whose. '
  • I put my foot in my mouth about someone's employment.
  • Another friend was laid up in bed after a mysterious "accident" that involved flooding.
  • I let a poodle into a secret hallway that then barked and woke the whole house.
  • I forgot to pack anything and we were away from home for 5 days.
  • V's tongue had green spots and glowed in the dark.
  • 'Salina had to start at a new school and I couldn't find it.
  • I had to find my sister and it was getting dark and she didn't know where we were staying, and I couldn't tell her as that would admit I didn't know whose house we were staying at.
  • Mum wanted to take the car back as Dad didn't have the money, but we couldn't find where it had come from or my car.
  • People were talking to me but I couldn't keep my eyes open as I was so tired

I was very glad to wake up, but exhausted.

I got one call about confirmation of work I have to do by tomorrow evening (won't take long), one call about a query on past work I have to look up (again, won't take long) and one call about something quite exciting but huge that may be of interest to me in the future.

On Wednesday I have to meet my sister somewhere and give her my child then drive to where I am doing training. According to whereis, it will take me between 9-10 hours driving time (add an hour to that as NSW is on daylight savings), so will be a huge day in the driver's seat.

Thursday and Friday I will be learning all there is to know about some rural software packages so I can be able to pass on my wisdom to the software company's clients and possibly entice new business for them, too.

I have to long-distance negotiate a drop-off between my extremely reliable sister and my slightly erratic outlaw family. Ever since my ex-SIL took her extremely drunk boyfriend round to my sister's one time - or the other version, took her Zimbabwean boyfriend round to my racist brother-in-law's one time - more diplomacy has been required. Thank goodness for Baka, who thinks all my family are wonderful ladies and gentlemen - and my family look most kindly to her - all we need is for her to not be visiting the casino at that point in time and it will be sweet.

Friday night to Sunday morning I will be catching up with one of my oldest girlfriends and her posse on the beach in Northern NSW.

Sunday morning I will collect 'Salina from the outlaws and come back here to collapse!

Edited to add - LERF just CALLED ME! As exciting as that is, even moreso is the fact that their technicians are coming to my place to fix the machine - RIGHT NOW!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Adventures of an 8 year old

Today is 'Salina's 8th birthday. This time 8 years ago I was stupefied in hospital, looking at a trussed up baby and wondering what the heck I was meant to do!!

Our Day Part 1
Today were awoken at 6.15am - so a one hour sleep in - woo hoo. We had stayed up late last night (well the adults - all that wrapping!) so needed caffeine - and instead we got an episode of the Eddie mini-dramas...

Interlude: Eddie Adventure
Last night, Eddie had climbed the screen door, somehow balanced on top while he found a grasshopper to torment, and once he got him down "guarded" the recycling the grasshopper hid in - so of course, we shut him on the other side of the screen door.

By 6 this morning, he had torn the screen door in an attempt to reunite with the grasshopper - so 'Salina put him out of his misery and opened the door. By the time our kettle had boiled, Eddie had the grasshopper begging for mercy.

Now, this was not a lubbley little native keeper but a big brown locust variety - and although I am all for balance in this unnatural environment, I decided to free the little beggar because there is nothing like torture to make the morning an unpleasant experience.

I got a tissue to protect myself from nasty grasshopper feel (they give me the hee-bees) and in a smooth arc of the arm, tossed him through the window beside me.

Thump!! The window was shut. So I opened it and redid my brave feat! Lubbly grasshopper did not have a good 12 hours.

Back to Our Day
With V's coffee and my tea, we sat down for the present opening ritual. It appears 8 year olds are far more wily than your 7 year old variety, as she saw this for an opportunity to potter and play act for her captive audience. It wasn't until the family cry of "stop messing with our minds" did she get down to business.

She scored well - she knew most of the booty she was getting from me, as she shopped with me for it yesterday - but I still wrapped every item up seperately (in recycled wrapping paper - one of my OCD behaviours). She also some stationary and an address book from me (so important in the social life!), a horse crystal and light set from V, got a electric-dog pencil sharpener (from V's ex-wife), a horse brush and clothes (from my sister and her family) and clothes and a swing set and monkey bars from Nana and Grandpa!

After breakfast there were household duties to attend, as I have been a bit absent this week and there was a pressing engagement at 11.

Her festivities begin
No party was the order this year - instead, there was a request for a shopping expedition with girlfriends to check out toy stores. I whittled the number down to 2, and at 11am the first task was to collect Girl1.

After I collected Girl1 and her mother waved her away blithely into my care for as long as we wished - and our first port of call was to collect the lay-by 'Salina has been paying off for the past few months.

Then it was time to meet with Girl2, take her from her parents and start our adventures.

The first adventure was food. Now, my child is no paragon, but her preference has been tailored by V and I to look for good stuff, and she wanted a kebab. Girl1 thought about it, but Girl2 exclaimed "eww", so all three ended up eating junk. I allowed it as it was the easiest route, and I needed to follow that path with the extra girlage.

Then we went to a fantastic toy store we discovered yesterday - it doesn't have a website (yet - I enquired) but really lovely quality toys at reasonable prices - yay!!!

Apparently the store was meant to be shut before we entered, but the owner was waiting for someone and we assumed open door meant open for business - but she was more than glad to let the girls choose a few little things (that 'Salina bought for them out of her money) and 'Salina buy a real toy sewing machine from her birthday and money-box money (with only a small booster from Mum, as there were too many coins to contemplate).

We then went to try the large toy chain as it has a sale on presently - but they adhered to their early closing time on Saturday ritual and missed out on an opportunity to fleece us.

Interlude One
We went to a park we had not ventured to before - and it had one of those cycle-see-saw things - that the girls worked out could cater to all of them, so a good hour of energy was drained (and squealing achieved) there - until the call of the shops (and the screech of the bindis and threats of broken glass) stopped our fun.

The shopping frenzy
Our final destination was a shopping centre where there is the "$2 Shop" to take our last coins. Girl2 had given 'Salina money for her birthday, but had none of her own to spend - so 'Salina gave her 1/4 back - and they shopped every aisle, examining the better, more wonderful toys or options. Girl1 was cashed up, and bought for 'Salina, her mother, her father, her brother, her cousins and her sister - and still had over $20 left in her purse! Girl2 had the fiver, and so bought quite well.

Seeing Girl1 being so magnanimous, she spent $1 on something for her brother - "which is very nice for me to do, as I don't like him" she said (on 6 separate occasions).

When we left that store, the couple who owned the wonderful toy store were walking past and again chatted about website stuff - I am not a designer, but knew of a deal around town so actually felt a bit business-like for a moment - oh, and then 3 girls clamoured for my attention and I was back to reality...

Tripping Home
We dropped Girl1 back to her family (and I must say, Girl1 did a marvellous thank you speech to myself and 'Salina on the way with no prompting whatsoever - I WAS impressed).

On the other hand, Girl2 taught 'Salina the lyrics to "Don't you wish your boyfriend was hot like me" on the way home, interspersed with them playing with magnifying glasses they had bought and Girl2 saying "This makes you look even chubbier, 'Salina. You're really fat".

Home, sweet home
We came home to see how V had gone without us ALL DAY, only having Eddie, the laundry, the swing set assembly, the monkey bars assembly and the newspapers to amuse him.

(Now, I am not sure at which point I should put this in, but another request was that V and I stop smoking by her birthday - which we had good intentions to do 3 months out from her birthday - okay, 1 month out - maybe 2 weeks out? - 1 week? Nah, today is cold turkey (with some patches). And I accede to a shopping trip with 2 other pre-teens? Yeah, right... V played it safe by staying home.)

Upon seeing his posture and the fact that other matters took precedence over reading my mind, I whisked 'Salina and Girl2 downstairs again to help assemble monkey bars.

Players in the back yard
Girl2 really got up my nose, with a conversation with 'Salina (in front of the invisible me) as follows:

Girl2: Who is your best friend, 'Salina?
'Salina: BestFriendFromOldSchool and You, Girl2.
Girl2: But I mean here - who is your best friend here?
'Salina: You - and Girl1, Girl3, Girl4, Girl5, Girl6 and Girl7.
Girl2: Yes, but I am your best friend, aren't I?

BoyNextDoor was home, and as he and 'Salina play together well was invited to join in the project.

Girl2: You don't like BoyNextDoor, do you?
'Salina: We play together.
Girl2: But you don't like BoyNextDoor, he's not your friend.
'Salina: We play dinosaurs and dragons a lot - not all the time.
BoyNextDoor enters back yard and they all go to climb frangipanni tree.
Girl2: BoyNextDoor, 'Salina hates you.
Jeanie: We do not have conversations like that in this back yard, thank you!

By this stage, realising that the monkey bars needed the swing set to maintain full stability, I had dragged out the swing set pieces. BoyNextDoor and I did the inventory, I ascertained that V wasn't feeling left out by not being included in the process (he didn't want to yell at kids and that is what one of them makes him feel like doing, so he passed), laid out the first few bits, realised the self-locking screws (or something) looked too much like the short-setting screws (both in packet 2015), worked out that I didn't want to yell at kids and that is what one of them was making me feel like doing (we had a much bigger swing set at our old house, 'Salina) and the sun was about to set.

I packed Girl2 and 'Salina in the car and took Girl2 home. I am not sure how glad her parents were to see her, but there was a certain Mr Olsen look from the father...

By the way - I am not saying Girl1 or 'Salina are paragons - they just know not to show it in front of an impressionable adult...

We had lasagne for dinner, a million phone calls returned and a tired but oh-so-very happy daughter in bed (with the crystal horse as a new night-light).

I think I may head that way too - very, very soon.