Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Supernerd's sister is known as Auntie Lolo, because when Mars was small that was the best approximation of her name he could manage.

Auntie Lolo loves her nephew and niece very much, and sometimes when her rostered day off coincides with school holidays, she meets us at the cinema and we all see a movie together. Mars and Venus look forward to these outings so much that Venus will ask me every day how many more days to go until we're going to the movies with Auntie Lolo.

Most recently we took the children to see Frozen, and they loved it. They came bounding out of the cinema (after I had forced them to watch the entire credits, just in case there was a little surprise at the end - we weren't disappointed) and they were singing the songs and recreating their favourite parts of the film all the way home.

As usual, their first question was "Can we see it again? Can we go back into the cinema right now and watch it again?" and their second question was "When will it come out on DVD?"

When we got home I found the soundtrack on Rdio, so we've been listening to that a little bit. I'm always amazed, although I suppose I needn't be, by how quickly the children can learn the lyrics to a song. While I found "Do you want to build a snowman?" entirely enchanting during the film, when the children sing it over and over and over I begin to wish we'd never seen it.

When Frozen won the Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song, I mentioned it to the children because I thought they'd be interested to know. Then I had to explain what an Academy Award actually is, and I thought that'd be the end of it.

But last night while Venus was in the bath and Mars was in the shower, Mars launched into a version of "Let it go" which mainly featured mangled words and farm animal noises instead of the actual lyrics.

Venus chided him:

"Stop it, Mars. That's an Oscar-winning song!"

I'm sure Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (the writers of the song) would be very proud. I know I am.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How time flies

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the birth of my son, and the first anniversary of the death of my Dad.

It's been a very hard week.

Last year I barely even got to see Mars on his birthday. All he knew was that his Grandpa was sick, and I was helping his Nana. As this anniversary has come around, I'm sure he doesn't remember that. I'm sure he doesn't connect these two events in the way that we always will.

Still, we tried very hard this year to make Mars' birthday just about Mars. We had afternoon tea with his Nana and Auntie and cousins, and dinner with Supernerd's parents and sister. He took enough cupcakes to school for the whole class, and he had a great day.

Truth be told, it hasn't been a very hard week. It's been one of the hardest weeks in quite a difficult year.

I was very close to my Dad and my heart hurts every day because he's not here. I still talk to him, and I can still hear his voice, but oh, I miss him.

Meanwhile, his grandchildren are growing and he would be so proud of them. Mars is ten, Venus has turned seven. Mighty Mouse is nearly four and Wicket turned one. He's not walking yet, but I think he will be by Christmas.

Mostly though, Dad would be proud of Mum and the determined way in which she continues to do things. She's had to make some big and difficult decisions, and with the support of my brother in particular, she has survived a lot.

Time is a funny thing. The way that it rushes by when we're happy, and seems to drag by when we're sad. I guess it's been a very long year. I remember Dad said something clever about time. It's not his originally, but I'd never heard it until he said it.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like an apple.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I've just written on Facebook "Don't let kids help you fill beanbags. Just don't."

I was going to write "don't fill beanbags with kids" but I thought people might wonder why I was trying to cram my kids into beanbags, so I didn't.

Through a combination of circumstances, we have two new beanbags in the house. In brief, the circumstances are as follows.

Firstly, once long ago we went to the Moonlight Cinema and payed extra for Gold Grass tickets, where we got to enjoy the luxury of some pretty awesome couch-shaped beanbags. I've wanted one ever since.

Secondly, we're having some people over for a movie night here at home tomorrow.

Thirdly, we don't have enough comfy couchy-type seats for even half the number we're expecting.

And lastly, when I checked the relevant website the price was much more reasonable than I remember it being when I first looked years ago.

So I ordered two couchy beanbags and they arrived a few days later, without beans. I went shopping and realised I had a conversion problem. The website that supplied the beanbags suggests I use 250 litres of beans, but my supplier sells beans in 500g bags. So I guesstimated and bought three bags. When I got home it didn't seem like enough. Today I went back and bought one more bag of beans.

This is where the kids came in. When we got home from school I asked them to help me fill the bags. Things generally went okay, although you would think that when you've only got one instruction to follow, and it's a simple one, you could manage. You know, something easy like "hold the bag open and don't let it go". A kid could do that, couldn't they?

Turns out sometimes yes, and other times not so much. 

Anyway we dumped all four bags of beans into one beanbag and it still didn't feel full. I  really wasn't in the mood to go back to the shop on a Friday afternoon for more beans, but Venus was really excited by the prospect, so we got in the car and came home shortly after with six more bags of beans.

We put one bag of beans into the one we'd already been filling, but then it felt too firm. So we put four bags of beans into the empty one and then the kids each held a beanbag while I bucketed beans from the firm beanbag into the softer beanbag.

Then the last bag of beans was divided between the kids' beanbags, as they were both feeling a bit starved. The beanbags, that is, not the kids. We had some dinner in between all this beanbag stuff.

I suppose that really, given the vast number of tiny polystyrene beads we moved around, it's amazing that so few of them ended up on the floor. But it seemed like there was a lot of shouting to make sure that half a bag of beans didn't wind up in the vacuum cleaner, and I was feeling bad about the shouting.

By now it was nearly bedtime and everyone was tired. I put Venus in the shower and played the soundtrack to Singin' in the Rain on my phone. She sang and danced in the shower and gave me the best laugh I've had all week.

Then she wrote this in her journal:

It says "I love my mummy so much that I can't hold it when I put my arms out", and the picture at the bottom is Venus dancing and me singing as we listen to Singin' in the Rain, because that's what we were doing when she picked up her journal.

I can't even begin to describe to you how precious that is, but if you have little people in your life, then you already know.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


The other day Venus, Mars and I were walking back to the car after school. We walked past the empty canteen and, unusually, one of the doors was open. Venus stuck her head through the doorway and shouted "hellooooo" so she could listen to the echo.

It was a pretty impressive echo.

So she did it again, and then called out to Mars, who had already walked past the open door, but was now heading back in her direction.

"You have a turn" she said to him.

So he stuck his head through the doorway, and at the top of his voice shouted "underpants!"

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the many differences between a six year old girl and a nine year old boy.

Here is an unrelated photo of the kids in their cubby/sweat shop. It looks like they're working hard, but actually they're both playing games. I'm kind of happy that they're not too old to build a cubby and spend time in it together. It's one of things I remember fondly from my own childhood. This one had a limited life expectancy because we used the chairs that we sit on to eat dinner, but the kids didn't mind. We can always build another one next time. No, not just another cubby, a bigger, better cubby with free wifi and lots of snacks. 

Hmm, snacks. We'd better make sure it's big enough for me too.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


We love pancakes. Some Saturday mornings instead of having breakfast we make a big bowl of pancake batter and we have brunch instead. 

Ah, brunch. That wonderful meal where you can throw down fluffy pancakes covered in chocolate syrup, and they're so delicious that you inevitably eat too many and can't eat anything else until about four in the afternoon.

Or perhaps that's just me.

Recently some friends came over for dinner and I made pancakes for dessert, but people were pretty full already so we had lots left over. 

Today we were going to have the leftovers for afternoon tea. As soon as we got home from school I got the pancakes out of the fridge and started heating them up. Mars was helping me set the table when Venus came skipping into the room. She asked what we were having, and we told her it was pancakes.

One of the wonderful things about little kids is that they can turn seemingly any string of words into a song. Sometimes it's a song we already know, so they write their own lyrics. Other times it's just a nonsense melody.

Venus started to sing.

"Pancakes, pancakes, panky-wanky pancakes"

Hopefully she won't sing it the next time we have pancakes, or I'm going to have some explaining to do. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Deck

One of the reasons we bought our house was because we fell in love with the enormous deck that runs right down the side and overlooks a little creek with a bike path running along beside it.

Now, a few years on, the deck needs to be sanded and stained. Supernerd started working on it a while back, but this bit of DIY turned into a drama, and then the drama evolved into a saga. So now we have a guy sanding and staining the deck for us.

We had a good feeling about this guy right from the start, when he made a time to come and quote for the job, and then called back to ask whether it was okay if he got here early. Early! Supernerd was impressed.

Anyway he started this morning and had got quite a bit done. Then this happened.

Now lots of builders and tradesmen take their shirts off when they get too hot, I understand. But seriously, it was overcast and cool all morning, the sun must have come out for ten seconds and the shirt comes off. It was only 18 degrees out there!

He's coming back tomorrow. The top temperature is predicted to be 27 degrees. Looks like there could be a lot more topless action still to come. 

There is one other thing about the deck. Every time I go out there I look down at the bike path and I can see my Dad walking along. In the months before he died he had taken to walking quite a long way every day, and his usual route took him along the path beside our house. 

He used to stop on the path and yell rude things up at the house, just in case any of us were out on the deck. He told me once that he'd called out "Alison, your father's a reprobate and your mother likes sixties pop music!" before he realised that someone was walking along the path behind him. This man approached him, shook his hand, congratulated him on a job well done, and continued his walk. I remember how he laughed when he told me.

Anyway, now I can't go out on the deck without thinking about my Dad, but this morning I went out there with my cup of tea and I looked around and thought about him, and I managed not to cry.

That's progress.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Stories

This is one of our family's favourite Christmas anecdotes.

When Mars was small I bought a sturdy wooden nativity set. I wanted something solid so that he could play with it. When his sister got big enough they started to play with it together. Their favourite character was baby Jesus. 

The Christmas when she was three and he was six we got out the nativity set and put it all together on a small table in front of a window. Baby Jesus didn't stay there for long. Every day I'd find him in a different place somewhere else in the house. He'd be in the dolls' house,  or in with the lego, or stashed in the toy kitchen. That baby Jesus, he got around.

Supernerd's parents and sister were coming over to watch Carols by Candlelight on television on Christmas Eve, so I encouraged the children to help me tidy up by sorting out the nativity set. It was all beautifully arranged with the star stuck on the stable roof with blu-tack by the time our guests arrived.

At some point during the evening the sun was streaming in through that window so Supernerd's Dad reached over to put the blind down. He let the cord slip through his fingers a bit too fast so the blind rushed down and hit the stable at the back of our nativity scene. The stable hit the shepherds, the shepherds hit Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus was knocked to the floor. 

Venus, who'd seen the whole thing happen right in front of her, yelled out "Oh, Jesus!" and we laughed until we cried, because it was just so funny to see a tiny little girl inadvertently blaspheming at the top of her voice.

Nativity scene, with dinosaurs

This year, I have new Christmas story to add to our collection. This one comes from a boy in Mars' class at school. I was helping in the classroom this week and the kids were working on an activity they'd started the week before. They had a picture of Santa striding along holding a rope over his shoulder, and they had to colour it, paste it onto a larger piece of paper, draw something on the end of the rope, and then write a story to go with their drawing.

This boy, let's call him Andrew, wasn't sure what to draw. I gave him some suggestions and when I later checked on his progress he had drawn a Minecraft dog. Now, I know a little bit about Minecraft, having watched Supernerd and the kids play it together a few times.

I asked Andrew what his story would be about, but he said he didn't know. I asked him whether the dog had a name. He told me its name was Bob. I asked whether Bob, being a minecraft dog, would do 8-bit poo all over the place. Andrew laughed and said no, but the girl sitting next to him got the giggles big time. I'm not sure whether it was funny because she thought I was being clever, or whether she was just laughing because I said "poo".

When I next checked on Andrew his story was done. It went roughly like this:

Santa has a pet dog. His name is Bob. Bob is a good dog. He kills zombies and creepers and skeletons. So Santa got another dog and those two dogs bred. Now Santa has a herd of zombie-killing dogs. The End.

I don't know about you but I'm so relieved to know that, in the world of Minecraft at least, Christmas is now safe from zombies, creepers, and skeletons thanks to Bob, the 8-bit dog.