Story Blog

Codine's off for the moment, but if you haven't read 'Turning Stones' it's still up there - free read!

Monday, November 22, 2010

21st November 2010 (Sunday)

I do believe I’m in the running for the Most Boring Blog of the Year award, the way things are going. I do apologise.


Sunday was great. We offed to Nippers in the morning, of course – only today they had the amusingly named ‘King of the Beach’ event on. The kiddies did a bit of splashing about in the surf early on, but then unfortunately that was about it for them. There was a parade of the three surf clubs involved (which seemed to take an absolute AGE to get going) and after that an all-age relay race where Merewether lost by about a lap. After that we got bored and buggered off to the baths. Still, good day for it.

At the baths they dived, paddled and generally frolicked until the Non could no longer stick sea-shells into a sandy Jabba the Hut creation on the each for excess of shivering, at which point I declared the excursion at an end and hauled her off to the changing rooms. (I never went near the water, naturally. Far too cold.)

A HUGE amount of pizza for lunch later, and we got in the car again to go to Blackbutt Fair. Now this wasn’t actually held in Blackbutt but in one of the streets near it, and it was really just one of the usual tat-fairs with handmade children’s clothes and pinnies and jewellery you never wanted. However, there were a whole load of wine-tasting booths from the Hunter Valley, all lined up. In view of the Mr’s having to drive, we only sampled one, cautiously, but the poor Mr cast many a backwards glance at the tempting fare, like little Danny the Fieldmouse and the acorns.


This little excitement over, we went up to Blackbutt proper. Place was fairly heaving, everyone was out there having their birthday parties and enjoying the good weather. Notably, the Littles honed her Frisbee-throwing technique until she can now (more or less) be relied on to throw it in a straight line… the destination is still somewhat vague but sometimes it’s pretty spot on. This is a huge improvement from her habit either of ramming it straight to the ground, of throwing it like a discus. Well, I use ‘throwing’ in a very broad sense, here. Made a round of our usual animals, and had the treat of actually seeing and feeding one of the rock wallabies (or he might have been a wallaroo) who are usually way at the top of the enclosure and you just get to see the tips of their ears.

At this point I think I’m going to call it quits. It’s actually Monday as I write but I think I’ll leave the rest for tomorrow. Snogs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

20th November 2010 (Saturday)

It think this is what they might call a day of several halves in football terms (it's got an overflowing personality).

Having been consistently stumped by getting the Non to do decent maths in the morning, today I opted for a different approach. Had been doing the flashcards to try to get back to basics (addition and subtraction up to 20), but it just wasn't holding her concentration. So tried exactly the same stuff, on a randomly generated sheet of questions. Taraaa!! With a pencil in her hand, and with some pushing and shoving, she was now able to concentrate for more than half a second at a time. Progress! The thing is, I made the flashcards precisely because she used NOT to be able to focus if she had to write things down. I guess this was quite a while back and her brain's modus operandi has now shifted. Just goes to show, change tactics all the time. It's forever a shifting target.

The rest of the work wasn't an issue. Oh, talking of morning things, have I mentioned how her recent craze is 'spooky toast'. This is something that we were going to do for her Halloween party but didn't get round to because we had too much food – originally, 'ghost toast'. You cut out the shape of a ghost (preferably with eyes and open mouth) in foil, butter a piece of bread, and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. Grill. Result, one sugary, happy child. She's been having these ever since Halloween. First it was Ghost toast, then Cat Toast, then Pumpkin Toast, and just this morning it's been Bat Toast. Since it's become such a regular feature I've gone into mass-production – folding the foil over when cutting so that you get ten bats for the price of one, as it were. I've also got a special little tub of cinnamon sugar. Marvellous.

We all traipsed off to the library – New Lambton so that she could borrow another toy from the toy library as well. I had ordered the elusive CD of 'The Worst Witch' – we've seen series 3,4, and 5 but not 1 and 2 so she's now got all of that to look forward to.

By the time we got back it was noon, and went straight off to see another house. Today it was in Hatfield Street. for those interested. This was a very nice house, really. Everything done very carefully, four bedrooms of liveable proportions, even the garden was terraced as much as possible (Hatfield Street gardens are always vertiginous) and tidied up beautifully. The Mr really liked it. However, they're asking 622K, and the kitchen is catastrophically small. It'd be OK to re-do the front room and the kitchen as a semi-open plan dining room and kitchen, which would then be decent. By the time you've done that you spent well over 650K, which is really quite a lot. Still, it was interesting. Talking of which, I wonder when our Visa will come through? Should be sometime soon now, surely.

After the fastest lunch possible, the Non and I went out to Arnold's swim centre. It's only open until 3pm, so had to get a wiggle on. They devote most of their time to swimming lessons, it seems – there's barely any free swim time available. Fair enough, I guess. Well, today I have to say she did pretty well. Fearfully excited by everything, plunging in and swimming madly. She did stop several times for a second, but she 'swam' her 25 meters several times over, all by herself (I was trying to stand at the side and not go in but it didn't quite work out like that). Alternated 'kick' practice with the board and the 'reward' of lifting her up to the side to plunge into the pool and try reaching the bottom. 'Kick' has been quite an issue, uncoordinated, half-arsed, intermittent, and sinking. Today she kept her knees relatively straight, kicked fairly fast, and shock of shocks even managed to practice breathing by alternately putting head in the water and blowing out and breathing in with head up. On occasion she even managed to remember to kick at the same time. (You should have seen her at swimming lessons last week. They practised kick for a while first, then introduced the crawl movement one arm at a time while holding the board. The kicks went completely to pot the moment she lifted her arms out of the water, seems it was the 'rub your stomach and pat your head' syndrome as her arms and legs immediately wanted to do the same thing, so it was utter flailing with the legs, I nearly wet myself at the sight.) NOT ONLY did she do good kick, but in just a few attempts managed to suss out the trick of diving down under water. Now, this is pretty tricky, I know a lot of people have problems with it. Well, I was impressed, anyway.

I brought her home and pretty much handed her over to the Mr for the rest of the day. They played the Star-wars game for a good couple of hours (she's really into that at the moment) on the computer, then I think the farm toy she brought back from the library. Meanwhile I absented myself upstairs to hammer out the 'Winter Ghost Story' with a deadline of the 21st. You can imagine how atmospheric it is over here for THAT title. It's been a bit of a slog and frankly I don't think it's very creepy despite my best efforts at planning it out but there we are, its done. Now I've just got tomorrow's effort, the 'best little bookshop' – 1.5k words on a story with a bookshop in it. Also by the 21st.

That's pretty much it. Yawn – seems to have been a long and boring post. Lots of love to all.

19th November 2010 (Friday)

18th November 2010 (Thursday)

17th November 2010 (Wednesday)

16th November 2010 (Tuesday)

15th November 2010 (Monday)

14th November 2010 (Sunday)

What a marvellous day. First really hot one. Well, Ian says there were some hot ones before now but I don't know, we weren't quite as immersed in them, maybe.

It did start with a bit of a struggle with maths for the Non's work. One of those days when she'd just decided that she wasn't going to think of a THING, absolutely like feeding a mule with an eye-dropper. Got a bit narked and threatened to call of the projected treat this morning, but luckily she just about made it.

The treat in question was Nippers, at 9:30 sharp of a Sunday morning. Nippers is a fantastically Australian organisation where a whole load of kids meet up at the beach and divide into age groups, run races, learn about the surf, ride surfboards, allsorts. Got to Merewether beach and the place was PACKED. Not just with the kids, seems everybody had come out of the woodwork and it was swim and surf in full swing.

It seems that we should really have registered and the books were officially 'closed', but in a very nice and Australian way the guy let us join anyway. However it did mean that (what with one thing and another) I spent the next hour and half traipsing up and down from the Baths to the Surf Club and back again, looking for various people in amongst a milling throng that was like looking for Billy the Bullock in the middle of a herd of buffalo. Find the guy, fill the paperwork, find Ian for the carkeys, get the car, go home for chequebook (they don't take cards), fill it in, get back, find the guy, back to Baths to look for Lara and Ian, back to the Surf Club to get a receipt. Phew. Anyway she's all nicely ensconced, and has her Merewether lifesavers hat. On the one moment I caught a glimpse of the activities, she was standing up on a training surfboard in the Baths, being pedalled around by Ian. Looked a bit wobbly but entirely happy, and going for it hell for leather. Apparently did some good paddling on the surfboard, good racing, wave jumping and running round the parents in the water.

Well we got back from that at about noon, and we were all zonked, what with the sun and the sea. Froozled around quite happily for a good while, there was a lot of playing of Star Wars games with Daddy going on, and a lot of under-dressed laziness. You get the picture.

Thoroughly pleasant day.

13th November 2010 (Saturday)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

12th November 2010 (Thursday)

I can't quite believe what I'm seeing.

I think I've posted ALL the backlog of pics. It was a truly Herculean effort, though I say it myself. There's still lots of editing and details for catch up on, but that's NOTHING compared to the agony of waiting for all those pictures to load. My new blog is more or less up and running. Absolute bliss.

Not only that but I've just been able to hoover the whole house because there isn't a single room that's being used as storage or is crammed with various excess things. There's a pile of puzzles in the living room which strictly speaking shouldn't be there, but they're in the process of being approved for disposal so I'll discount those. Some balloons are still wandering around in a rather shrivelled state, and I now have to make a trip to the storage facility to get rid of the extra bedding and so on, but in the main, almost back to normal. The world is SO my oyster, I'm savouring the moment of reaching for the shucking knife to the utmost.

(...A little later...)

As usual, it wasn't all roses. Found out the migration process wasn't entirely complete, nor can it be unless I re-do the October posts from the Blue Mountains... needless to say, I'm loath to do this after the struggle they caused initially. Still, have jiggled things about a bit so that I've got a little more space to use on the old blog, so it'll cog on for a while.

HUGE thanks to the Pie for posting such gorgeous pics on the My family site, those kids just get more and more beautiful by the day, I swear. Even some of the parents, too, which is also much appreciated.

Lillian day today, and they both seemed pretty tired. Had a notification from Mr Harris at school today when I picked the Non up - in his kind Australian way he said 'she's got something to take home and finish today, she decided to be a bit whingy and it didn't really happen." - turns out she'd scribbled all over a question sheet. We'll be doing that for tomorrow morning's work, instead of the usual. At the playdate I nearly had a heart-attack when I turned round to see Lara standing in front of the telly (supposedly in the middle of dancing to some music) arms up to the top of the screen and shaking it. Looked as if she was thinking of climbing up onto it. Blimey. Well I sincerely hope that after the repercussions it had she'll never be doing THAT again. What exactly entered her head at the time I'll never understand. I think I remember reading in the specs that the screen weighs 68kg.

Rather nice entirely veggie lasagna accomplished today - sauteed up a load of honest-to goodness veggies, cubed quite small (onion, carrot, peas, sweetcorn, courgettes, broccoli) and mixed with cubed tofu instead of the usual mince or lentils. 'Licious. Definitely do that one again.

Must make these posts more interesting or people will stop reading altogether. Night night, tuck up tight.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10th November 2010 (Wednesday)

Blogger is driving me totally, utterly bananas. Not just a little, completely. While I'm writing this draft of an actual POST, I'm still struggling through posting pictures of when the W&W were here. STILL.

Well, it slowed down to a snail's pace, didn't it. Refused to post more than one pic at a time. The pace was agonising, but I suspected I was reaching capacity for picture storage and sure enough eventually the message came up to say I'd reached the limit. Hence the shift to Upside Down Chronicles 02 – fair enough. (Mind you I got confused on this one as well – thought it was just the blogger site that was in trouble, didn't realise it pertained to the whole of my Google account but never mind, all easily sorted enough.)

No difference on the new site. Argh. So now I start looking the problem up and sure enough, there are thousands of people tearing their hair out. Some poor buggers can't even get the thing to load for love nor money, never mind the pace. Others (like me) are complaining about the hanging problem and the slow pace. I looked up the 'help' bit on blogger, cleared the cookies, enabled pop ups for Blogger, no difference. And I've still got (I dread to count how many) more pics to upload before I'm clear of this backlog.

Well there's the rant over with – just think of me for a second when you scroll blithely down the pics. Think of me running and and down stairs, putting one pic up every five minutes while doing the washing/ironing/writing/cleaning/scraping out the bins. I must be stark raving mad.

It probably doesn't help that I've just come back from Kinder Hell again... honestly I'll be so glad when these reading groups finally stop and they go up to first grade. I wonder if we'll be helping in first grade? I know I wanted to be more hands-on but they drive me crazy. 'Get up off the floor, read this,' 'Stop kicking him, look at the board,' 'no, that's not your toy car and anyway you're not meant to be playing with it,' 'stop jumping up and down and screaming,' 'I don't think Alex wants to be kicked in the stomach from a backwards somersault, just stand still instead,' 'no, READ it, don't just guess, how can it say 'asleep' when it starts with a 'w' ?' … it's just too tiring. I'm drained. I don't know how the teachers do it, day in, day out. I'd be an even worse alcoholic than I am already.

Ah, there we are. While I typed the last bit there I was trying to upload two pic. TWO. I had the temerity to try and do it faster than just one at a time – and of course, they hung. Nothing doing. Stop uploading and start again. ARRGGGHHHHH

(OK more rant) – Thought I'd solved it by changing the selection of uploader – it made it better for about two minutes and now its back to normal. That is, practically no movement. Well I've been cogging on at it, updating details and meanwhile just sitting here adding one and two at a time, dealing with the INCREDIBLE frustration of it refusing to move pictures, uploading them in completely random order, and generally displaying an unmitigated disregard for any sense or order. But now to crown it all, the NET has gone down. No connection at all!!! I think I shall just go to the corner to explode – excuse me for a second...


OK that's better. I wonder when the Net will be up again??

(a little later) Well there we are, back up again. Thank goodness. Pretty slow still on the uploading front but at least I've got the updates more or less lined up – now just to stack them up. We've just come back from Merewether Beach, where we met up with Lillian and her mum after school. Lovely day today, if a bit windy, and they ran about and played sandcastles, so all good. We took popcorn and ate it with a lot of sand, Lillian and her mum had ice-creams and the Non and I had hot chocolate and latte. Naturally it all means that my dinner plan of braised lamb shanks is a little behind schedul but the Mr still isn't back from work anyway so it could be worse. Anyway, perhaps this blog is nearly shimmied up... well it's not really, is it, still a lot of tweaking left to do but never mind. Something is better than nothing. Hope everyone is doing very well, and by the way thanks so much for all the comments Pie, I hope you're not offended that I haven't had time to reply but it's just been a bit of a haul getting things updated. Hopefully catch up soon. Lots of love all round!

9th November 2010 (Tuesday)

Might not have been the most inspiring day all told but I'm pleased with it. Been battling with various backlogs for a VERY long time now and writing has been utterly off bounds. House has been a shambles, even the Littles's work had been neglected for quite a while because... well, it slipped, there was stuff to do, I was slack.

We're a bit more firmly in the saddle now. House is not great, but it's sort of under control. All the beds are in the right place, almost got the washing down to normal levels. Still have to take stuff to storage but that's a minor matter. Found the time (finally) to clean the Mr's car today – boy did it take some cleaning! Can't remember when we last did it, it was appalling after all the use it'd seen since and in particular the place where a Certain Miss tends to sit was reminiscent of a sty, but it's all sorted. Even swept out the garage.

Then in the afternoon, another unspectacular but satisfying bumble around – checked out what had been happening in the various writing communities, looked up competitions and which ones were new, which ones had closed, what results had come out. And here's the shock. As usual (of course) there were plenty where I wrote the usual 'not selected' on the 'Results' column of my competitions spreadsheet, but HEY found out that I had been selected as a runner-up for a short story... in September!! Stunned! I'm sure I'd looked there before but perhaps I missed it. In any case, there we are, at last have one more little splot to put onto my C.V. I know it's not much but slowly slowly, surely something's got to build up. Gives one heart to carry on at least. I wonder what percentage of items submitted get any result. I'll have to look it up sometime. Anyway, just to prove it you can click on and see for yourself (don't worry, it's less than 500 words :)

Another marvel happened in the afternoon. Quite a while back (on a trip to the Sydney Aquarium, as it happens) I'd picked up a little cut-out set for the Littles: they have sheets of basic shapes which you cut out yourself, and then stick and match the appropriate ones on seperate bits of paper template to make various pictures. Thought at the time this would be just up her street because she's for EVER sitting at the table shredding up pointless bits of paper but I can never get her to cut and stick with any coherent sense – she seems to prefer to do it with her eyes closed, almost. Well, that little offering was seen through and rejected at once, at the time. No, no no. Absolutely not. Not going to cut them out properly, not going to listen to how to hold the scissors, not going to take advice on what angle to cut at, or what shape matches what, in fact, not going to have anything to do with it at all.

Guess what? Got it out again today and she went at it hammer and tongs. Eureka bells ringing. She even insisted 'I LIKE this!!', gave me a hug, and wanted to do another one, after she'd completed the first one really tolerably nicely and coloured it in to boot. Good things come to those who wait. And boy I've been waiting.

One final soupcon to finish off the day, I managed to cook a tolerably nice dinner. Pretty simple, just boiled carrots and beans (lightly dressed), some cooked spinach, some cous cous with a smidge of cheese in it, and some lightly poached Bassa with a good bit of lime juice and olive oil. Unfortunately didn't take a piccy but I've got to put it on the food blog because it was a jolly tasty combo.

8th November 2010 (Monday)

Seem to have spent the whole day tidying and even so, by the time I went to pick up the Littles from school hadn't even managed to make the beds. Thank goodness there was an impromptu invitation from Lillian's (which we accepted) and I got another hour, because it made all the difference. Just that bit more. I guess there's just a huge backlog of 'stuff' what with the party, the visitors, the weekend, and whatnot. It'll die down eventually.... I hope.

The Mr had his (free) personal training session with 'Tim' at the gym today (I know, don't ask me, they've never offered one to me but you know what he's like). Said it was OK, but obviously it was his turn to go in the morning. Though instead I'd do my 'five Tibetans' - I know sounds crummy and it does start with spinning round on the spot 21 times but I swear it reduces appetite... probably by making you so dizzy that you feel too sick to eat anything. Anyway, there are some abdominal muscle things in there as well, and with my tyre round the middle I can't get enough of those. Noticed I haven't been losing much weight but flexibility is getting better – finally. Can probably safely say that at nearly forty I'm more flexible than I was at 15 (or indeed any other time) so I guess it's not all doom and gloom.

6th November 2010 (Saturday) – HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR P!

Well yes, it was the Mr's birthday today and all in all it was a rather nice day. Well I know it's me writing but still.

First thing in the morning I tried to get up with the Littles and get the pressies for him wrapped and the card written (all bought quite a while ago but you know me, disorganised to the nth degree).. unfortunately in the middle of this procedure he came down the stairs. Being a sport and a gentleman, he sat patiently on the stairs while we scurried to finish off our belated preparations, after which he was finally allowed a cup of tea, a rendition of 'Happy Birthday' and some rather badly-wrapped presents.

After quite a while of this, we were joined by the two seniors. Decided that a quick trip to Hickson Street and a look out over the bay would be appropriate, followed by a brief visit to the Foreshore. So that's just what we did. It was looking a tad overcast but luckily no rain while we were out. Nice view as ever from the outlook by Hickson Street (we didn't attempt to go down to Burwood Beach), and then a fair little walk in town. I fear it may even have been too much for people who had spent quite a lot of time walking about recently.

On the way back we stopped off briefly just above the baths and saw the closest sighting of a whale breaching out there that we've ever seen. We think it was baby one playing about in the shallows, splashing up and down like no-one's business. Quite fortuitous, really. Anyway, all very nice and towards the later morning the two of them were on their way and we were left with a bit of a 'what shall we do now' situation.

Spent quite some time rolling around at home, and luckily I managed to get hold of Alex (recommended by Anna as a possible babysitter) who said Yes sure she'd come out that night and sit on the Non while we went out for a meal. HURRAH!

So in due course, we booked a restaurant, fed the Non, called a taxi, introduced Child and Sitter and promptly sent Child off to bed, where she stayed quite happily for the rest of the night while Sitter sat downstairs doing her coursework. Meanwhile we went off to a very passable Vietnamese restaurant, and had a lovely couple of hours of uninterrupted nosh and booze. What a treat! Wish it were Ian's birthday every day, it was great. I know we were home well before 11, and perhaps it wasn't as wild as some people are used to, but it was still jolly nice. Definitely worth making the effort and going out more often!

5th November 2010 (Friday)

 Busy day today but very nice. As can be imagined after the romp of yesternight, there was a hell of a lot of tidying up to do. So, most of the day, I tidied up. We're eating leftover party food for lunch but I did have to go and get something decent for dinner, because we were expecting Dicky and Phyl for the night. Really only just managed to get the stuff in before I had to pick up the Littles, and it was barely packed away before the Mr came home from an early day so that I could take her to the gym. Dicky and Phy expected at about 5, so it would have been a problem were we out! The Mr had some reading to do (thesis marking) so it wasn't a problem working from home, luckily.

As it turned out, he'd only just managed to put the roast on which I bought when they arrived, so plenty of work left to be done on that, unfortunately. Meanwhile Littles was doing pretty OK at the gym – listening and looking quite nicely, today. She had sneaked in Thermo mouse and I hadn't realised she'd been hauling him around to some extent during the class. Luckily the teacher is pretty clued in to child phsycology and told her to tuck him under her chin when she did her forward rolls. Now, it's been well-nigh impossible to get the Non to tuck her neck in and keep her back rounded on the forward rolls, and I've been wincing every time she does one, just waiting to hear the neck snap one of these times. Finally, with the aid of Thermo, she managed a semi-decent roll! Have to tuck your chin in quite a lot if you don't want him to fall off, you see. Kudos to that gym instructor.

Anyway by the time we got home Dicky and Phyll were well ensconced, and we got out the booze and got down to natterring and eating. Have to say, the Littles wasn't too bad either, reasonably polite, and even asking interested questions about where they'd been and what they'd seen. Curiously, she asked what they'd seen in Africa. Now, they have of course been to Africa but this was in 2004. I know she was there when they were talking about it, and we saw some pictures of giraffes and elephants, but it was a jolly good long while back and she certainly couldn't at the time participate in the conversation, in fact we didn't even realise she had been listening – but obviously it had left a somewhat lasting impression.

Anyway, seems they've been having a pretty decent time travelling about the place. Due to go to the Blue Mountains tomorrow and stay there for a couple of days, then off to New Zealand and then back to the UK by about the middle of November. We seemed to get through three bottles of wine pretty easily so I hope you'll excuse me if the details remain a bit vague. Dinner seemed to turn out OK, out onto SuperEasy mode with and instant prawn platter for starters, then the roast (which lovely Mr had cooked), and a bought orange cake to finish off with. Amazing how little effort one can get away with if one decides to.

Particularly if someone else is cooking! :)

4th November 2010 (Thursday)

WOW full-on day. Madly getting stuff together for the party the whole time the Non was at school, and then of course there was the finishing off to do.. with the added benefit of the Non poking and dislodging everything I'd prepped so far. Wasn't soothing on tempers but I guess that's what pre-party hours are for. Lillian came round early because her mum needed to go out (and of course with Neil out in Tasmania at the moment leaving kids at home while you go and do some counselling is not an option).

Meanwhile, the fantastic news came through that the SECOND grant had been approved, this time from the NHMRC for no less than 455K over three years!! Fantastic. Now he can actually hire some people, and have a lab, once the university get round to giving him some space. Did you know that we've been here nearly a year and they STILL haven't even started on ripping stuff out from the old lab?? Seems incredible. Luckily he's been pretty busy obtaining the grants in the first place, and doing his teaching and even (recently) getting to do some labwork in Pete's lab but I wonder what the next few months will be like. Pete's coming back after Christmas and there might be more people in the lab, and overcrowding is never a good thing. However, so far so good and the news of the grant is BRILLIANT.

Anyway, Lillian duly arrived dressed as a black cat, and they went bananas running about the place as usual, with the added bonus of having all sorts of food and decorations to pull down and poke at. Slightly trying, have to admit. However, most of the stuff finally got going, there were helium balloons bobbing about, table ready with lots of food just in time for the mayhem to start proper.

And boy was it mayhem. Started off quite tamely with Pass the Pumpkin (passing round a little pumpkin hollowed out with sweeties inside – music stops and you get to choose a sweetie). By the end of this and a little bit of noshing, most of the kids had arrived so decided to go for the balloon popping game. This is a game which sounds simple enough – you tie a balloon to the ankle of each child, then on the command of ready steady Go they all try to pop each other's balloons – the last one with an unpopped balloon is the winner. Woah you wouldn't believe how wrong it could go.

Fistly, it took longer than expected to tie balloons to the children's legs, what with not many people being able to tie knots, scissors going missing, children going missing and general mayhem. Secondly, during the course of this a lot of kids ran about (some of them shouting 'soccer, soccer' at the tops of their voices and bashing their newly acquired balloons about) including going up and down the stairs with said impediments firmly attached – were lucky none of them broke their necks in the process. Thirdly, once it started and they found out what was happening, several immediately decided to sit it out as being too scary (and actually I don't blame them.) Fourthly, the balloons were WAY too tough, and just wouldn't pop. There were incidences of children sitting on them and bouncing up and down on them still to no avail. Then there was the problem that the string used to tie the balloons on started slipping tighter round their ankles, and some had to be cut free in a hurry. Then finally, the last few left got into an utter frenzy, and things suddenly deteriorated to Jaymie, Lara and Lucy all bawling their heads off because it was all just too much. Well, tissues, sweeties and cuddles all round, after five minutes it was all back to normal and we decided on a quieter game next but I know I won't be playing THAT one again in a hurry!

Then there was Wrap the Mummy – yes, toilet paper and teams. Lots of it. Everywhere. Of course I got the cheapest variety for this purpose so unless you were pretty careful the sheets came apart and soon the floor was almost as covered as the children. Still, at least this time there were no tears, almost full participation and the worst side-effect was that they got very hot and subsequently a few of them escaped outdoors – not entirely appropriate as they were barefoot and it was getting dark and was raining gently. I think I have a photo of them somewhere, must pop it up.

What else. We did Pumpkin Penny Toss (give them all some pennies and they aim for the pumpkin – if they get it in they get a sweetie) which was a relative success as again it went smoothly and everyone pretty much ignored the 'prize' concept and just picked up a sweetie after their turn anyway, much to everyone's satisfaction. We did Wiggle Worm (groups of kids in two rows, front person pass hands between their legs to the person behind, who gives them one hand and does the same for the one behind, then wiggle away and see who moves the fastest) which worked surprisingly well for a while. Can't presently remember what else there was but it was quite action-packed. Food was quite fun as well, I'll see what pic the Mr managed to take. Of course, I was too busy with directing kids to be taking many pics on this occasion.

Feel quite exausted just writing about it. Considering the mess left, it didn't take too long to clear up in a more-or-less sort of way, they which we were very grateful for. Still, all in all, a success, and it fulfilled its function.

Dicky and Phyll tomorrow!

3rd November 2010 (Wednesday) HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE WOOFIE!

Many happy returns to the birthday girl, and glad we caught you before the witching hour struck! Nice to see the Pobble and Camel, too.

Most of the day over here was spent in preparations for the onslaught of children on the morrow (the Non's belated Halloween party). Of course, there's always endless, endless tidying to do – then there's the last bits of food shopping, there's the carving of pumpkins, the baking of cookies and the icing of them into black cats and yellow moons, then wrapping them up into cellophane wrappers later on with the Non for going into the goodie bags. Have to say these turned out quite nicely, actually. We did little 'thank you for coming, happy Halloween' laminated mini-greeting cards to hold the cookies, put a couple of black cats and a large yelow moon into each bag, and tied it up with twirly string – looked pretty professional, though I say it myself. Then there was the most amusing making of the 'spider bread' – just pizza bread made into the shape of spiders but they look pretty cool and I think they might be a hit.

Funny thing about days like this, you're not entirely sure where the time goes. I put up some decorations, got the place looking OK, prepped it up but there's still loads to do tomorrow. Yawn.

31st October 2010 (Sunday)

up to Nelson Bay in the morning,
out trick and treating in the afternoon (pics)