Thursday, January 21, 2010


So they blew bubbles and the dog chased them. But then the boys decided it was time for archery, and I had to help them string the bows. They lost three arrows, but when I sent them back out, they found one of them.

The trampoline got hella action. The dog had to be chased with waterguns because he goes berserk any time the kids get up on the trampoline. The dog ran onto the road and wouldn't come back, so the kids went berserk. I had to call the dog home again. He's not stupid. He came when I called.

Meanwhile, I worked on pizzas. Eight of 'em, as a matter of fact. But before that, I shifted the Wii up to the shed with the big screen, and they stomped around playing Godzilla and Rabbids and whatnot.

They ate six of the pizzas. I had to make one with just cheese and ham, but most of 'em were full spectrum jobs -- pepperoni, onion, mushroom, capsicum, olives, pineapple and feta. Happy kids. Also lots of ginger beer, watermelon and mint drinks, with ice. Yes.

Next came the Shower Ordeal. I dictated that movies could only be watched by clean people, and an assembly line was formed. Six kids. Of course, the pet rat is in her cage in the bathroom, so while any one kid was showering, up to three were hovering around the rat. And the other kids were racing half-naked around the place, dripping.

The movie system worked moderately well. We put on some Pinkie and the Brain as an opener, so the little girls could enjoy themselves too. Meanwhile, I made six very large bowls of popcorn, most of which got scarfed up as soon as I took 'em up to the shed.

Once I decided the girls were looking a bit worn (a lot of trampolinery for them all day, oh yes) the boys got to put on "The Mummy". The plan was that they were going to watch that, and then a "Hellboy" cartoon, and sleep up in the shed afterwards. Meanwhile, the girls got a pre-bed dose of Dora the Explorer (their choice, I promise).

It didn't work out as planned. First the girls got sleepy during Dora, so I put them to bed. That would have been all right, but young D - the eldest visiting child - informed me that his sister (whom we shall call E) tends to get nightmares, and usually sleeps next to an adult.

Uhh... what? Nobody told me about that one!

Well. One improvises. I stuck little E in bed with the Mau-Mau. She was dubious. Lots of anxiety about the dark, and about people coming to 'get' her. I guess she does get nightmares. I had to send her back to bed four or five times.

Meanwhile, it turns out that "The Mummy" was a bit much for the intrepid Shed Boys. (I cleared the movie-level with the visitors parents beforehand, by the way.) They sort of chickened out of the idea of sleeping up there. So they trooped down en masse with sleeping bags, and I had to organize them onto the floor of the boys' room.

And of course, that awoke Little E again, and she wanted her big brother D to come in and say goodnight. But I'd had about enough. D was settling, and the Mau-Mau was asleep, and I figured: no. Little E could stay in bed as instructed. But of course, I had a secret weapon.

Toxo the Wonder Cat -- the same cat who has looked after all my kids, one after another, during their sleep as they grew -- came to the rescue. He'd climbed the ladder to be with the boys during the movie (after spending the day around the trampoline and the swings and the cubbyhouse with the kids) but once they came down, he had no reason to be up there, so he trotted into the Mau-Mau's room right on cue. I introduced him to Little E, and told her how Toxo would look after her while she slept...

... and bingo. One unconscious kid. She slept the night through. Nary a nightmare to behold.

I live in fear of the day that Toxo finally leaves us. He's about eight years old now. I figure he's got another four or five good years, and maybe another five or six slow, quiet years. Hopefully that'll be enough. But he's already given me eight years of completely unbelievable loyalty, help, devotion and affection. Best. Fucking. Cat. Evar.

So morning-time was all about French Toast. And rocket science: baking soda and vinegar rockets at 0730, and me having to dart in and out of the kitchen, fine-tuning rocketry in between rustling up french toast with cinnamon and maple syrup. Then I bullied the kids into picking up their clothes and bedding and doing a quick round of tidying up before they ducked back up to play the Wii a little more. Lots of arguments there, so I had to play Solomon and set up a rota system. Happily, it got too hot after a while.

I've been doing laundry and dishes, making banana-chocolate smoothies, applying sunscreen, sorting out skinned knees and prickles in the feet, distributing cold pizza and coconut jelly and pomegranates... meanwhile, the dog is hiding from waterguns, and Toxo the Cat is sailing the wide seas on the good ship Cubbyhouse, under comman of pirate princesses Mau-Mau and Little E.

Half an hour to go until the father of the visitors arrives and rescues me...