I mentioned to Homer that it was "ABOUT TIME I GOT MY PATIO". #4 has obliged. I'm not sitting on the stool though, look at the left hand leg.
I of course was working hard, planting up the winter veggie patch. I treated myself to shiny new bean canes this year. I have recycled the last ones so often they are now a lethal weapon splitting into flying splinters the second a puff of wind hits them. Note the patented bird preventing cage over the cabbages.
Last year the pigeons waited until I was ready to pick the cabbages before descending en masses to devastate the entire crop. They were closely followed by the cockatoos which devastated the bok choi. Cockatoos may seem exotic and exciting when you first move to the tropics, until they descend like a flock of ill behaved teenagers on your fruit trees a fling half eaten starfruit to the ground. About that time you go off them. This is underlined when they repeat the act with your fig tree. Similar behaviour is the reason that minah birds are locally called flying rats.
Now we all know that we shouldn't say bad words in front of the children , a lesson I learned the hard way when I braked hard in the car and a small voice piped up from the back seat..."PRATT". Of course,at this point you mustn't correct the child about the naughtiness of the said word, or it gets worked into every conversation. For example,
"Just blow into this tube madam."
"Oh that was the two year old in the back."
"Pratt, pratt, pratt, pratt..."
"I see madam, just blow into the tube."
I wanted to say it isn't my fault that on the day you pulled me over for a random breath test my child had just learned the joys of a new way of irritating its mother, I want to say it but can't. After all, who did the child learn that word from? I have instead had to learn new words to describe other car drivers.
Of course that early lesson didn't stick and all my children have repeated things I'd rather they hadn't.
"Mummy, mummy, the interfering old bat from over the road is at the front door!" (Called loudly through the house with front door open.)
"Mummy, mummy, didn't you say you'd boil your head before she came in our house again?"
"Mummy, mummy, what does a warthog look like, does it really look like Aunty Jean? Mummy, mummy, does it?"
And of course there is #4's unnatural talent for burping tunes. I have to grudgingly admit that I can name the tune fairly often, although I'd never admit it to him. Especially not since he burped along to his rival classes song in school assembly, cracking up the back three rows and a couple of teachers, before being hauled out to his seat outside the headmasters's office.
It's official, I have a sad life. My most exciting news is that I have a new vacuum cleaner, and worse still, that it has made me excited. It is a very good vacuum cleaner. It sucks, (and it blows, as Bart Simpson would say.)
I have had at least three vacuum cleaners a year since I moved into this house. They languish unloved, kicked and hated in the back of the garage until they go to the dump. My unnatural rate of vacuum cleaner destruction is a composite of many problems, so I compiled a list of questions for the unctuous young man in the vacuum cleaner shop. This particularly oily salesman has served me before and really he should know by now that raising one greasy eyebrow at me is not going to drive me to a quivering heap on the floor. I have heard the patter before about various devices that will make my cleaning life fun and exciting.....as if!!!
Instead I presented my questions.
1. Does it suck...hard..and for how long will that suck last? Will the suck recover if we "accidentally" vacuum up a moist substance such as jelly?
2. Does it blow? I mean if I jam the hose up with something, say a small piece from a board game which has then captured a family of dust bunnies, two feathers and something green, can I reverse the hose to blow out the obstruction?
3. If a helpful child tries to clean a Lego piece out of the hose with water and doesn't tell me will the suck recover?
4. Allied to 3, will attempting to rescue a pet fish from the toilet with the vacuum kill the vacuum? (The fish was already dead.)
5. Can people of between 2 foot six and six foot five use it? can they do it easily, as in "I couldn't be bothered setting the vacuum up for me to use, it's still on your setting....." (This last one removes all upright vacuums from the equation, but so do many more of my questions.)
6. Can I vacuum under furniture without actually lying flat on the floor?
7. If something small and heavy is vacuumed up is there an effective backstop? (This last from a bad experience with a small bolt about three vacuums ago.)
8. Are the bags strong? (See 7.)
9. If I vacuum up a large spider can you guarentee it is dead? It's not going to crawl out later is it?
10. If I vacuum up homework can I extract it without a blowtorch?
11. Will sawdust catch fire in it? (see vacuum 2.)
12. Just exactly how good is the filter? and how easy is it to remove and clean?
13. Is the electric cord long enough for me to vaccum more than one corner of each room at a time without constantly changing power outlets, or using a spaghetti of extension leads?
14. All those handy gadgets that come "free"? Do they live on the cleaner, handy for when needed, or at the back of the cupboard under three years of junk? (Although I think the thing I'm using in the kitchen as a jam funnel was a gadget for vacuum four.)
15. Does it look enough like a space ship that children will use it in their bedrooms?
16. If children use it in their bedrooms is it loud enough for hamsters to know to move very quickly the other way?
17. Is it manly enough for a man to use....big, black and brooding with a headlight etc? (The Hummer of the Hoover world)
18. Is it light enough for me to use?
19. Does it reach the edges? Can I get the end off to reach in the corners without a screwdriver and a degree?
20. Oh and if it could do all that on its own while I sit with my feet up and a good book.......
He did sell me a vaccum, although he says I shouldn't vacuum workshop debris up with it. I explained that its not workshop debris, it's the debris of my life but he didn't believe me.
As has now become a family tradition we spent the public holiday at the doctors. We spent Boxing day, New Years Day, Australia day and now Easter Sunday at the local emergency doctors.
Number three was looking a bit peaky on Thursday but we (foolishly) decided he'd get over it. He did, he just gave it to #4 first. #4 spent Saturday night crying and weeping, moaning and thrashing about. He demanded cuddles, but not too hard, and vomited many, many times, usually just after having medicine.
Sunday morning I put on my last set of clothes that had not been vomited on and, pausing only to check I had no vomit encrusted in my hair I headed out to the doctors, with both children and Homer in tow. Homer drives whilst I hold the basin under #4's face as I don't want my car to smell of vomit for the next six months. While driving Homer rings the clinic to make sure our standing public holiday referral is still open and I ring home to make sure #1 moves some of the washed bedding from the washer to the dryer, and refills the washer.
On arrival at the clinic we go through to our usual cubicle. A nurse I didn't know, but with a full "Working on a public holiday and not happy " face asks in a condescending voice when #4 has last vomited. Just at the opportune moment he covered her starched white blouse with vile green liquid, a la exorcist. "Just about then" I blithely say.
#4 gets an injection to stop him vomiting, so we can him medicine to bring down his temperature.
We know he's recovering when he tells #3 that he's just had an injection in his BONES and that #3 will have to have one too, and it really really hurts,....a lot. (Funny that, he didn't flinch while he got his, but he knows to tell #3 its gonna hurt..)
Number 3 has taken up trumpet playing. Actually that isn't as bad as it could be. I have discovered that by having three closed doors between us I can no longer hear him practising.
Every now and then I go and listen to a tune, and try and name it. Sometimes I get it right!!
Number 4 has not taken up trumpet playing. He has however developed a fascination with valves and brass instrument construction. I can now put a trumpet back together with one hand whilst driving over the speed limit on the school run. I have heard that in the SAS you have to be able to break down, clean and re build your gun blind folded. Huh, child's play. They should do it whilst trying to re-assure one child that the trumpet will be fine, and the other that he needs to put his seat belt on NOW! All this to the accompniament of each child screaming that the other is on HIS side of the car.
"Mum he touched me...MUM HE TOUCHED ME."
"Mum, He's on MY SIDE of the CAR..MUM...MUM"
I'm changing my name.
The music teacher assures me that that is not spit that has drained out of the trumpet over my work uniform, it is simple condensation. The "oil-like" stain IS however oil, brass instrument valve oil.
Thursday was my day off, so I made three lemon cakes. I always make two cakes, one gets eaten as it comes out of the oven, the other might even cool down. This time I made three so that I could take one to work. When I got up Friday morning all that remained of the three cakes was a pile of crumbs and a dirty knife.
Friday I made three apple cakes. These last a long time in a container. Well they would, but on Saturday afternoon I opened the tin for a piece and found a currant and a few crumbs.
Saturday afternoon I made two chocolate cakes. (I only had enough eggs left for two cakes, the girls can't keep up with the demand.) I just went to the kitchen for a piece of cake. I found a small pile of crumbs.
In the front room Homer and numbers 1, 3 and 4 are seated in a semi comatose position in front of the rugby, unable to move through cake poisoning.
Footie practise this evening, all the parents are sat in their cars watching the practise (or in my case reading and silently thanking the Lord that someone else is supposed to be in control of my child).
The scene is picturesque. The green grass of the oval, the backdrop of gum trees with the occasional call of the Kookaburra. To my left is a large mound of mud, (soon to be spectator seating) and to my right other parents settled down for an hours peace.
Suddenly from my right,
"Hey, hey, yes, you A, you. Don't look behind you, you're the only A here. get on the oval or I'm putting you in the boot." (That's the trunk for Americans).
A quick glance to my left reveals child A on top of the mound of mud, with a large clod in his hand.
"I mean it, get back on the oval.....now"
Child A heads for the oval and I duck my head back into my book.
"Hey, A, I told you , back on the oval or I'm putting you in the boot."
Half time and the children descend on the cars for a drink.
#4 ducks to the back for a drink. His cherubic (I'm his mum, I'm supposed to think that way) face smeared in mud and sweat. Child A heads to the next car.
"Hey, shut the boot, get out of the boot, I'm not telling you again, get out of the boot. Is that mud you're putting in there? "
It's good to know I'm not the only one. (Incidentally the baby ogre has transferred from AFL to soccer, it's less violent. )