A good week

February 23, 2015

“Come on kids! Shoes on, find your hats, we’re going to the zoo with your uncle & aunt & cousin!”

Fainjin looked vaguely surprised. “Are you coming too, Mum?”

“Yes!” I said, “Did you think I wouldn’t?”

He came & wrapped his arms around me. “Well… I thought you might stay home and have a rest, or do some sewing… maybe work on your memory quilt from our trip…”

My heart melted. “Do you think I need a rest, then?”

He snuggled closer. “Yes, probably, ‘cos you do a lot.”

This was after he had got up rather early but made a conscious choice to play with a quiet jigsaw rather than rattle through the Lego. He had also dried the dishes with no protest at all, had a great ukulele lesson, and had worked hard at school all week – this last backed up by his very reliable best friend, who keeps an eye out for him.

I’m making a deliberate effort to emphasise consideration for others with the kids this year. I hadn’t meant me, just people in general – but it’s nice to have some of it rub off!

© UpsideBackwards 2015.

Now I know where I stand…

February 22, 2015

At the zoo yesterday, Babess didn’t see the cheetah until I pointed it out. “It’s looking right at you!” I said. “Probably thinking ‘oooh that little girl looks yummy, I wonder how fast she can run?'”

Babess harrumphed. Mum jokes are apparently as bad as “Dad jokes”.

“I bet I could run faster than you if I was being chased by a cheetah,” I tried to get a smile.

You can’t run faster than a cheetah!” she correctly assessed.

“But I don’t have to – I only have to run faster than you!” I joked.

“Then you can carry me,” she reasoned.

“Then I’ll be slower, and the cheetah will get us both,” I said.

She barely paused for thought.

“Then Dad can carry me.”

If that happens, I think I’m catfood.

© UpsideBackwards 2015.

Beef

February 2, 2015

“Roast for dinner?” Pearl asked, looking at the meat in the pan surrounded by veges. “Beef?… lamb?”

“Yes, beef,” I replied, just as she continued, “I don’t think it’s pork or chicken.”

“So cow,” she decided.

“Well, probably a steer, actually,” I remarked, and she looked at me quizzically.

“Doesn’t beef come from cows?”

“It comes from a cattle beast, yes, but mostly cows are kept for milk, and bulls or steers are kept for meat.”

I half-expected a question about bulls vs steers, and mentally prepared myself, but instead she said, “So… cows are girls and bulls are boys, right?”

“That’s right.”

“So… what are they? I mean, you have men and women and together they’re humans, so what are cows and bulls together?”

“Cattle,” I repeated.

She rolled her eyes, a skill she is ever-improving upon. “That’s just confusing. Why don’t we just call them all cows?”

“In that case, why don’t we just call all people women?” I countered.

She paused, and a gleeful light came into her eyes.

“That would be… AWESOME!”

© UpsideBackwards 2015.

Skywriting

February 2, 2015

Over lunch today, Babess suddenly said, “Mum! I just realised something!”

I raised an eyebrow encouragingly.

“You know when flies are going around, buzz buzz like that, and it looks like it’s just random?”

“Ye-es…?”

“I just realised! They’re really showing you their phone number!”

“Really?!”

“Yes! ‘Cos they go from this side, then up like that then the other side is open and they do that…” she explained inefficiently but with expansive and complicated gestures.

“Do you think flies have their own phones?” I enquired.

“Yes!” she was astonished that I would even entertain the idea that they didn’t. “Otherwise how will their schools know where they are?”

I conceded the point. “But how do they carry them?”

That slowed her down only momentarily. “Between their wings, tucked up like that.”

So now you know.

© UpsideBackwards 2015.

A recipe for angelic children

January 20, 2015

This morning we went to the library and the kids all borrowed several books (which I then had to help carry – ouch!). Babess is enjoying the Wimpy Kid series and Judy Moody; Fainjin loves graphic novels; and Pearl is firmly into the Young Adult section of the library now, with a wide range of genres that interest her.

Then we had to go school-uniform shopping for Pearl. As soon as we got to the shop, the younger two found a quiet corner and sat with their books. I helped Pearl find clothes to try on, checked sizing, then had to go back to find other things. I found Fainjin & Babess still sitting absorbed in their books, and another family looking past them at clothes on the racks.

“Hey guys, don’t sit in other people’s way!” I admonished them.

“Oh no, they’re fine!” the other mother assured me. “I’m just very impressed with them, actually!”

I had to grin. It’s nice to have other people think my kids are wonderful. I know that a pile of fresh library books works better than any bribe for my lot! (as long as you don’t want them to do anything other than read quietly, that is…)

© UpsideBackwards 2015.

When Babess grows up…

January 19, 2015

A couple of conversational gems from Babess over the last week.

“Mum, you know how I’m going to keep doing jazz?”

“Yes, sweetie.”

“I’m going to do lots of it and get really good. And…” she lowered her voice and leaned in to confide, “I might get… famous.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. And I’m going to do jazz until I’m nineteen.”

“Nineteen, huh? What will you do after that?”

“Tap.” She was very matter-of-fact, but paused to consider. “Or maybe that one where you dance by yourself.”

Pearl & Babess were discussing what Babess might do when she grows up. “I’m going to work in a mall,” declared Babess. The Dad choked a little bit but luckily isn’t the sort to get distracted enough to drive off the road. The conversation in the back seat went on.

“Aren’t you going to rule the world?” Pearl asked, amused, and echoing a prediction I have made myself.

“No!” said Babess, incredulously. “I can’t do that. I’m not in the royal family! And besides, I’m not a man.” (The Dad heard that last bit; I didn’t, or I would have wept).

“You don’t have to be!” interrupted The Dad. “You could be elected President… The royal family don’t rule the world, anyway – actually no-one does, yet…”

“No, I’m going to work in a mall,” she decided.

Maybe she’ll rule the retail world?

© UpsideBackwards 2015.

Thank you, tree

January 9, 2015

We have a plum tree in our garden. It’s a cherry plum, planted by previous owners for its blossom and red leaves rather than its fruit. But the fruit is certainly edible. The plums are very small, and have relatively large stones, so they’re a bit annoying to eat, but they taste ok.

In the last few years I’ve used them mostly for making jam, which they are excellent for.

The tree is right outside my bedroom window, so it’s easy to see the plums growing and ripening. They don’t change colour – they’re purple right from the start – but you can tell when they’re ripe because they start dropping from the tree and the birds get very interested in them.

Babess has been asking when we can start picking them, so today I got her to help me with the harvest. She picked all the ones she could reach, and pointed out higher ones to me. I passed them down to her to put in our container. There were a few too high for me to reach, which we decided to leave for the birds to feast on, and there’s one I missed which is clearly visible from the bedroom window so it will taunt me for days to come.

But we filled our 2-litre container with 93 small plums.

93 plums in a box

93 plums in a box

Afterwards, I washed them and boiled them into pulp, then skimmed out the stones (which is why an accurate count is necessary). I also skimmed out the skins, which I blitzed in the food processor before returning them to the pulp. I didn’t have the time or energy for sterilising jars today, so I froze the pulp for a later jam-making date.

But first, carrying the fruit inside from the harvest, Babess stopped to pat the tree trunk.

“Thank you, tree!” she said. “Please give us some more next year. But… lower.”

© UpsideBackwards 2015.

 

Summer Living

January 8, 2015

We are fortunate these days. Neither of the girls are early risers. Fainjin is, but a few weeks off school have seen even him fall into the habit of waking after seven. Or maybe he’s awake for ages but knows not to come and wake us. I don’t mind which! If he isn’t bursting into our room to admonish us for our layabout ways (“Mum! It’s 7:04!”), we find him reading in bed or up, dressed and playing with his Lego when we get up.

Also, The Dad is still on leave this week, so we are having a relaxed lazy family summer. It’s lovely. We don’t really have any plans most days.

So when I got a text at 8am from a friend inviting us for a pool playdate today, I had to get out of bed to let the kids know. The little ones were reading – a pool outing was sufficient incentive to get them up & breakfasted fairly quickly. Pearl moved with less alacrity, but we all got to the pool in a reasonable interval.

Pearl took a book and sat on the side, but the rest of us had a good splash around. The mums chatted and looked after the two littler ones while the older boys played with swim noodles under supervision of The Dad.

Then it was home for showers & lunch before more friends came over for the afternoon – and our friends from the pool came too, and before we really knew it we had four adults and seven children for an early pizza picnic dinner.

There was ice-cream and running and chasing and a tent and crawl-tunnel in the backyard and “crocodiles” in the grass and eventually some tv to encourage a bit of quiet sitting-down time and minimise melt-downs.

And then, it was home-time and tired children were dragged off home by their tired mothers. We settled down for some family quiet time in the long summer evening and everyone went to bed after their proper bedtime. Again.

We don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow, either.

© UpsideBackwards 2015.

The end… or is it?

October 12, 2014

Babess wrote quite a lot more today, but I sense the story has got away from her a little bit. Her handwriting is getting sloppier and there’s no clear way forward.

Yeah but who will give the Princess A pet Maybe Gabbie Yeah maybe though not sure though yeah I think Gabbie would do it but she better give her a pet today yeah why because the Princess wants her new pet today Oh right why today because she hasn’t had her new pet in days ooh. kay I just love geting back my frends. Now lets go to our stable oh and your mother is gonna want you elsa come get your nice owner now the princess must have been mean to you yeah she was so mean. I wanted you to rescue me she was very horible. How did you get to the hiddin tower so fast we flew and we had a spare map of it the robbers stole the bronze one but we still had the silver and gold. you now what happened to the robbers we called the police and they put the robbers in jial so there we go that’s all well all for today yes that’s all no um I – all for story no it’s not all for the story but if that’s all when the end eeeeeer, I don’t now anyone now where the end is no, no, yes, no, never, ever. Okay who said yes i’m gesing it was mia yeah, it was me

So. Gabbie is going to make a pet for the horrible princess, and Mia knows when the end is coming (it’s on page 8, and we’re only on page 6, so there must be more action to come).

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

The story continues… Elsa’s escape

October 11, 2014

You will recall that last night, Babess had left off with the unicorns debating how to get flying powers – from birds, or from their friend Kate – so they could rescue Elsa from the Princess’ clutches, now that they have apparently despatched the robbers.

We had lots to do today, so not much was written, but here it is:

… but what kind of flying powers um yeah Good Quistion I think its Pixi dust really well she’s about to touch Elsa so lets stop argueing and just fly c’mon and lets use the pixi dust and fly the veiw from up here is Amazing isn’t it

Yeah and theres the Palace I see the Princess Elsa here fly first you need some pixi dust that my frends Gave me.

Wow I’m actully flying but who are your frends

Kate and Mea [note: not Mia, who is a unicorn sister, this is a different person] I now those two we all played together

Oh I can’t forget that the other ten plays with us too.

I don’t know about you, but I have many questions. Who are Kate & Mea? Where did they get pixie dust? Who are the “other ten”? What would be so terrible about being a princess’ pet? Are the robbers truly vanquished?

Luckily, we are only half-way through page five, and Babess has told me the story will be eight pages long. That’s how much paper she has (although of course I would always give her more).

© UpsideBackwards 2014.


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