Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mandatory Video Footage

That would be Elder Son, more or less performing Silent Night on the cello before the assembled masses of parents at the School Awards ceremony this morning. Poor little bugger: he's got some kind of cold/throat lurgi, and he's mostly lost his voice. I promised him we could scarper immediately after he did his gig, but shortly after I arrived, one of the teachers quietly nixed that plan. Apparently they had an academic award to give him, so he had to stay.

Happily, he shared the award with his very best friend, so a happy ending came to all. Except me, of course. Because the full award ceremony went for two hours. Sigh.

Tonnes of laundry have been done, and I've officially farmed out the job in the future to the boys. Elder Son will gather laundry, load, operate and unload the machine. Younger Son will fold and sort clean, dry loads. They'll both score 50c for such operations, which should work out okay, since we've got a moderate-sized front-load machine, not a monstrous great toploader.

Of course, I'll still be dragged into the hanging up and taking down bit of the process, because the clothesline is a bit too high for the kids. But at least it throws some of the responsibility onto the little barstewards. Let's see how much dirty laundry they generate NOW, eh?

Dinner is almost prepped: twice-cooked baby taters, and chicken stuffed with sundried tomatoes, onions, and home-made meatballs (leftovers from a barbecue the other day), slathered with tomato paste and basil (stuffed in under the skin and all), wrapped in a big dough sheet and slow-baked; fresh garden salad. Of course, I won't be eating because as soon as Natalie or the babysitter gets here, I'll be off to sword training.

Never mind. We're getting closer to the end of the year every day.

Staggering Towards The Finish Line

Natalie made it back from Canberra on Friday evening/afternoon, and promptly had to be on-call. At least the night went fairly smoothly.

Yesterday we were double booked. Elder Son was committed to perform on cello for his music teacher's end-of-year concert. Meanwhile, Younger Son had his birthday party scheduled. Kind of necessary: poor bugger's born on Christmas Eve, so it's tough to gather his friends on the day itself.

We had to split it. Natalie took Elder Son into Launceston. I understand there was a practice in the morning, then a break of a few hours before the concert itself. They went to see Planet 51, but I'm informed that Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs is better.

Meanwhile, that left me as Party Dad. I baked a chocolate cake in the shape of one of those Warner Bros cartoons -- black and round, with a bit sticking out at the top with a fuse. It was only 2d, since I couldn't figure out how to make a spherical cake keep its integrity, but I did write TNT on it in red icing.

Younger Son was delighted, particularly as the black (did you know you can get black food colouring now? True!) icing was strongly peppermint flavoured. The whole ensemble was his request anyhow. Where does he get these bent ideas?

Other than laying in a stock of party food, my only other preparation for the party consisted of hastily wrapping a last-minute present (a snorkel and mask set) and buying a bunch of high-powered waterguns. And that, my friends, was a stroke of genius.

It was a warm, sunny day. The boys arrived. They seized the waterguns, and it was on.

First, they hunted the dog. (I pitied the beast.) Round and about, over and under, they pursued the poor bastard like paparazzi spotting a blonde hair on Tiger Woods' shoulder. After the dog finally disappeared completely, they turned on each other like the feral beasts they are.

Mid-day until two this went on. At two, they filled up on sausages and birthday cake, and then they decided to watch a Godzilla flick on the big screen in the shed. I made lots of popcorn and cordial, and set them up comfortably.

Within half an hour, they'd give poor Godzilla the arse, and they were back out in watergunland. Oh, and did I mention that the Mau-Mau had her best friend up for the afteroon as well? They were armed too.

The second phase of the Great Watergun Massacre went until five in the afternoon, when parents finally realised their kids had been missing for some time...

By then, of course, Natalie was back with Elder Son. And a couple random visitors had dropped by, just to jazz up the day a little. So I fed a whole lot of people, and failed to get much of any use done.

Today? Well, Nat took the kids to the swimming pool in the morning for a while, and that was nice. But Mad Neighbour Anna had a soiree in the afternoon, and I'd promised a salad, so there was shopping, and similar. (The salad was good, by the way: prawns, turmeric rice, cucumber, capsicum, spring onion, heaps of coriander and sushi dressing. Yay!)

Then I took a Dremel tool to the soles of my feet, which are once again cracked and callused... blah. Hurts like hell to walk, lately. And there's no use fucking around with pumice stones or the like. I have an odd skin condition which causes rapid formation of callus and keratin layers, so the hide on my feet is just too thick to confront with anything short of power tools. Seriously. It took me half an hour with a sanding drum on a Dremel to remove the gargoylish armour. But with the keratinized plates reduced, the remaining skin will be more flexible, less prone to cracking. For a brief period, anyway.

The afternoon party went very nicely. Again: warm and sunny. The kids played in and around the spring-fed pond next to Mad Neighbour Anna's house. We drank wine, and glögg (pronounced 'glerg'; and I'm assured that since it's Swedish, the two dots above the o in glögg do NOT comprise an Umlaut. That is German, I was told with a very severe look. But I didn't get told what the Swedes call their umlauts...). I should point out that glögg is Swedish for "mulled wine", so it wasn't a terrifying experience or anything. Frankly, a little disappointing. I always envisioned glögg as something that might invade Earth or stomp Tokyo, maybe.

The turnout wasn't enormous, but it was lovely. Genuinely marvellous people. The kids had a great time, I drank wine and ate good food and argued ecology and dams and education and good stuff like that... and then it was time to bring the kids home to bed.

Tomorrow, Elder Son has to perform on the cello at the schools awards thingy. And in the evening, I have sword training -- but Natalie is on call (probably) because one of the docs at the surgery has had a bit of a family emergency, and everybody is rallying 'round. We've organized babysitters, though, so I can still go... which is good, 'cause it's the last sword session until February.

So as you can see, things are slowly, slowly easing. There will be no ju-jitsu on Wednesday. School finishes Thursday, or maybe Friday. Sword training finishes tomorrow night. Younger Son's party is out of the way. Cello and violin commitments are nearly done. The end is in sight...

... if I can just survive that long.