Sunday, August 24, 2008

A new park in the city - it's all giant garden things made of concrete. Here children are balancing on the hose (on the right you can see the nozzle with blue water spilling out, and some giant blades of grass).

In the second photo, the girls are on a giant thong. Of the footwear type.

Sophie and Charlotte with cauliflowers from our garden. Charlotte is holding the one we let grow too long - it kind of started to set seed. But you can see from the one Sophie is holding, that they must be mini-caulis. I kept waiting for the first one to get bigger!

Ryan and Bethany went to the zoo for a Zoo Snooze sleepover which sounded like lots of fun. They got to go into the orangutan's cage at night and hide treats for them to find the next day, plus go on a nocturnal walk and a bunch of other fun stuff. I told them to take plenty of photos, but they are all of animals! I wanted some of the kids too.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Water water everywhere

As I've alluded to in other posts, I had a bit of a plumbing disaster a while ago - over a month, I'd say. We came home one night to the water meter ticking furiously but no gushing taps. I got Tim the friendly neighbourhood plumber to come over and have a look for me (at 6pm on a Sunday night - I'm sure I'm now his favourite neighbour!). He found the leak for me - a huge chunk had blown out of the pipe around the side of the house. The next day he put a temporary fix on it for me but strongly suggested I dig out the pipes so he could replace the old rusty ones with brand new plastic. So I spent a few happy days trench-digging. The kids helped too, for a while... I dug out about 12 m but then sprang another leak through incautious use of the shovel. So Tim decided he would just lay the polypipe over the top of the soil and I could dig the rest of the trench when I had time. From the meter to the house is probably about 30m, the way the pipe runs (and under the concrete path too). But when he went to lay the polypipe, he found that the pipes were already mostly plastic, and it was only the last, oh, 12 metres that were iron. If I'd dug about another 30cm more, I would have found the plastic myself. How cool was that?!
But not so cool was the fact that once he'd replaced the pipes, every tap in the house kept dripping furiously. I finally got another plumber in (one that I could actually PAY, since Tim accepted only some lasagne I cooked for them but no money) after my wimpy girl-arms failed the tap test, much to my disgust. Anyway, the new plumber kindly loosened all the taps for me and started to replace the washers. Only to find lots of little pebbles in the pipes. When the pipe burst and we turned off the mains a whole bunch of gravel and dirt had fallen into the pipes, and now were spread all through the house at each tap. Yay. Oh, and that kitchen spout that's also dripping from the base? Since the screw has seized up, there's no way to change that washer except to hacksaw off the spout and buy a whole new one. Now this story could get really long and colourful from here, or I could keep it short and say that after changing most of the washers myself and cursing at various other things that didn't work properly and spending many weeks living with buckets under every tap, over the weekend Dad and Roman who was visiting from Melbourne came and helped fix it all! Well, except the bathroom taps and shower still drip a little, and the laundry one leaks as much as before, but I'm keeping quiet about that. Actually the extra bonus frustrating thing about it is that when you change the washers and things, more grit and pebbles seem to flow up the pipes and damage the new washers too. Hooray. So we probably need to actually flush the pipes a bit, which could be a very wet experience. One day...

Here is the trench after I started to fill it in. It still looks exactly like this though! It's a tomorrow job...

A bit hard to see, but this is the section of pipe with the hole in it. The hole is pretty much the same size as my thumb.

Also continuing the water theme is that Sophie has started swimming lessons. I took her to the pool before her lessons started as she is pretty timid and I thought she might be scared of the water. She loved it but hates putting her face under the water. Today though (week 4) she actually willingly put her whole face under the water! I bought new goggles too for her, which should help with her confidence. I think I have probably purchased around two dozen pairs of goggles so far. I only have four children! How does that happen? There must be a goggle party happening somewhere where all the goggles laze around the pool getting a suntan and laughing at the foolish humans they have escaped from.

Sophie about to get in the pool for her first ever swimming lesson.

She actually got in the pool! I did have some doubts...

And totally unrelated to water but I had to share this quote which came up for me today in a widget thing:

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.
Rick Polito
That was a strange enough quote to make me go look it up. It's a tv listing for "The Wizard of Oz".

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Birthday hijinks

So last week I turned 34. Already! Aren't I only about 24 or so? It was a lovely birthday week - I feel so privileged to have such lovely family, wonderful kids and such nice friends. No surprise party this year, but plenty of other good stuff, mostly just people making me feel all special :)
My actual birthday was on Friday, which was a nice day, Karena stayed over and we spent a fun morning taking photos of me for her to draw or paint (so artistic!) then lunch out as well. Dinner was... Indian of course. What else would I choose? The usual fun and chaos of dinner with all of us out. I had an awesome cake (subtly requested by me to the children many times as we looked through the cake book), an echidna, made of choc chip icecream with choc biscuit fingers stuck in all over it to be the spikes. Yum!
On the Saturday morning, I had heard a whisper that the kids were organising something, which I figured to be breakfast in bed. I was looking forward to the usual soggy cereal and cold toast. My favourite. But it took the kids way longer than usual to make me breakfast. I'd say they started at about 6.45 and it wasn't until 8.30 that breakfast came in. And it was PANCAKES! An amazing stack of 15 fat pancakes, layered with bananas and strawberries and topped with maple syrup and icecream, as well as a banana and strawberry smoothie. Do my kids know me well or what? I was so excited and delighted. They (especially Ryan, whose idea it all was) had worked so hard together. Ryan had organised my mum to buy shaker pancake mix (which he had wisely decided was much easier than to make from scratch as we usually do it), bananas and maple syrup. They had got the electric frypan set up, and Ryan had cooked all these pancakes. He burned his fingers a bit in a few spots, but nothing major. We sat in the bedroom and ate these tasty pancakes, the kids always double-checking and saying thank you every time I offered them a bite. After we finished the pancakes, we went out and faced the kitchen, which wasn't actually too bad. Ryan cooked the rest of the pancake mix (the 15 pancake stack was meant to be all for me, they'd saved some mix to make their own later) and we cleaned up together. It really topped off a lovely few days.
Oh wait, another birthday related thing after that - amongst other things, Paul and the kids bought me a fondue set. So on Saturday after dinner we had caramel toffee fondue, with marshmallows and fruit. YUM! But I forgot to take photos of that. Too busy stuffing my face.
The presents I got were all winners, as usual. I didn't want anything much because I'm in such a non-consumerist mindset at the moment, but the things I got were all welcome. Especially the flights to Melbourne complete with childminding arrangements. Yay! Thank you so much to mum and dad and Nicole and Raff who will take the hard grind of four extra kids while I'm off playing irresponsible single mother in Melbourne. Like I said, I'm privileged to have such fantastic family.

Yay for echidna icecream cake.

Children happily eating curry.

Everyone's favourite nana.

Sibling rivalry is never pretty.

The fabulous pile of pancakes topped with icecream, with the smoothie in its elegant serving jug in the background.

Me eating pancakes. Yes, I am wearing a jumper in bed. It's cold!

The cooks.