Monday morning and we're late for school again. I swear I could get up at 4 o'clock in the morning and we would still manage to be late for school. This morning started off most efficiently. I got up at 6.30am, did the 'swish and swipe' a la Flylady and put a load of washing on. I got out the remains of last night's roast chicken and made two Destitute Gourmet recipes out of them; Chicken Pie with Herby Cobbler Topping for tonight's dinner and 12 Magic Chicken Pies for the freezer. There was still enough chicken left to make Noel some Gourmet Sandwiches for his lunchbox and a large pot of home made chicken stock was soon bubbling away on the stove. While using the stove I also whipped up a batch of banana and chocolate chip muffins and four dozen Oaty Crisp biscuits (another Destitute Gourmet recipe, where would I be without Sophie Gray?!) By this time it was 8 o'clock and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself – the boys were fed and dressed and all I needed to do was make the lunchboxes.
Until Ali produced a tiny scrunched up note from his school bag, which said 'It's Mad Monday on November 27th !' His class were holding a Wacky Gumboot Parade and all the children were required to 'dress up' their gumboots and wear them to school. OK, so we didn't have a lot of time left to decorate his boots but I remained unfazed. Ali had grown out of his gumboots and they were only fit for throwing out so we decided we could really go to town on them. Being Ali, he wanted penguin decorated gumboots, so I found some penguin patterned contact left over from covering his school books and we started meticulously cutting out the motifs and sticking them on. It was working a treat; the only problem was that the penguins wouldn't stick to the front of the boots where it was curved, so I came up with another plan, to punch holes all the way down the front and create some 'laces' using silver curling ribbon. I made the holes easily enough and attempted to thread the ribbon through using a toothpick to push it through the holes as a needle was too small. An agonising 46 minutes later I finally completed this mission, the air had turned a startling shade of blue and the boys had 10 minutes to get to school. With no time left to make sandwiches I had to rifle $4 out of our sacred money tin so they could buy a pie at school and told Noel he would have to buy his lunch too as the bowl of chicken for his Gourmet Sandwiches was still sitting in the fridge. I couldn't believe that after all my careful planning and home cooking, everyone still ended up having to buy their lunch! We rushed out to my car – and found I had a flat tyre. The kids hurriedly hopped into their Dad's car and I rang the school to let them know they were on their way – letting Ali's teacher know in no uncertain terms that it was her bright idea that had made us late in the first place.
Not that she was surprised, we're always having 'one of those days' – the same happened last week. This time the course of events started even earlier, around 5am, when Noel was waiting for his able crewman to turn up for a days' fishing. He duly turned up on time, which was somewhat of a miracle considering he had just driven his car off a steep bank while taking a corner too fast on the winding road to our house. The drop could have been much, much worse but out of sheer luck he whizzed over the bank, underneath a wire fence and ended up in a farmer's paddock, where he was able to simply open the gate and drive out. If you saw the car you wouldn't believe he had managed to get out unscathed – unfortunately his bank balance wasn't so lucky as the repairs are going to cost him $6000!
Still shaken, he and Noel set off on their adventure and I concentrated on getting the boys ready for school. We had to be super organised that morning because we also had to get Tui to the vet nice and early for her spey (50% off at the vets for the month of November!) Everything ran like clockwork and at 8.30 sharp we were ready to head out the door. Ali and I waited while Liam quickly wetted his hair and a few seconds later he appeared clutching a spray bottle. 'What's in this, Mum?' he asked. 'Toilet cleaner, why?' I replied, at which he screamed and dropped the bottle like a hot brick and clutched wildly at his head. I swear you have never seen such a look of panic on anyone's face in your whole life! He started pulling off his clothes and yelling 'Aghhh, I'm dying! I'm dying!' and hyperventilating so badly that it was hard to determine what he had actually done and for an awful moment I thought he had swallowed it but at last he was able to tell me that instead of using water to wet his hair, he had sprayed his entire head with bleach! I had no choice but to ring the doctor to ask their advice, followed by both the vet and the school to let them know that we were going to be late while I threw him in the shower. I couldn't believe it! What on earth possessed him to use the spray bottle from the toilet instead of the bedroom I don't know. Especially when all the spray bottles used for cleaning are blue and marked 'POISON – DO NOT TOUCH' and I have always told him to make sure he uses the red bottle in the bedroom! It's just as well I'm such a Simple Saver – if I had still been using shop-bought full strength cleaner the damage could have been a lot worse; as it was the 50/50 blend of water and bleach I use to wipe down the bathroom and toilet did no more than to give his dark head of hair a few natural highlights. Once things had calmed down he was actually quite pleased as he had always wanted to get highlights put in his hair like his friends but his father had said 'over my dead body!'
I finally got the dog to the vet and dropped the boys off at school, where both their classes were just sitting down to a rather important maths exam. Noel and Jon returned home later with a swag of fresh snapper and crayfish and we enjoyed a slap-up meal courtesy of the ocean before the phone started its constant ringing to signal it was time for Noel to get to work. I answered the phone and was mortified to hear a man's voice at the other end ask 'Is your Daddy there?' 'No', I growled and handed over the phone. That just topped the whole day off, believe me!
It hasn't been all bad though; in fact this weekend was great. On Saturday I visited a Farmer's Market for the first time. I had always wanted to go to one as I hear so much about them from SS members and what a great place they are to save money on groceries, but there were none in our area. Luckily our local Lions Club has helpfully just started one to support local growers and it was so much fun! I got some great bargains on seedlings, deli products, fresh honey and produce. Not to mention a lovely bunch of gerberas which looked so cheerful I couldn't leave them behind! I'm already looking forward to next month's market and watching it grow. On Sunday Noel and I got up bright and early as the weather was finally suitable enough for us to begin chopping down the cumbersome trees in our driveway in order to expand our orchard and vegetable garden. It took six hours of non-stop sawing, gathering, clearing, firewood stacking and bonfire building but with every tree that came down the view just got better. The difference is amazing and for once I remembered to take 'before and after' photos as nobody would have believed it to look at it now. Bob and Friday, the sheep think it's wonderful now they can see through to the other side and baa loudly at everyone who walks past. The boys helped (on and off) but most of the time they were busy 'camping' in the lounge. It was too windy to pitch the tent on the lawn, so we put it up in the lounge instead and they hung out in there with Hubble and Tui for most of the day and slept in there at night. Noel also helped them build at the bottom of the paddock, complete with ladder and a swing and they spent hours down there 'decorating' it and making weapons for their various escapades. Anything which gets them away from the TV and Playstation is a bonus as far as we're concerned! Last week the whole school went on a trip to Auckland to Howick Historical Village to teach the children how people lived in 1850. Us parents had to laugh as the part the children liked best was when they got to play with the old fashioned toys of the period – bowling the hoop, throwing and catching games and stilts. What struck all of us were how all of these toys were actually quite hard work – a real test of co-ordination and we all thought how much better these simple toys were for our own children, rather than expensive gadgets with buttons to push that did everything for you. Looking at them all having such fun trying to master these long forgotten games, it made many of us wish things had never changed.
Especially with the recent appearance in our house of another Christmas list! It seems I haven't got away as lightly with the kids' Christmas wishes as I first thought. I found them making out another one a couple of days ago – entitled 'Christmas list for Mum'. 'Er – excuse me, didn't you already write out your Christmas lists?' I asked. 'Yes Mum, but that was for Santa! This one's for you!' Some of Ali's requests are proving rather challenging too – such as 'Pyjamas for Budgewoi'. Budgewoi is his beloved stuffed platypus which has barely left his side since bringing it home from the Australian Reptile Park a year ago. Apparently poor Budgewoi has been suffering from the cold since relocating to NZ and needs some pyjamas to keep him warm at night. Another is 'A Brumbies rugby jersey signed by Stephen Larkham' which I fear is going to prove impossible as I can't buy a kid-sized Brumbies rugby jersey over here, let alone source an autograph from his idol! How come I got tough ones like that on my list while Santa got all the easy ones?
There is still some discussion about the actual existence of Santa however, so Ali confided in his Grandma that he is conducting an experiment to test if Santa's real. 'I've put a wrestling toy on my list for Santa that Mum really hates because he's called the Boogeyman and he spits worms', he explained. 'There is no way in a million years that she would ever buy it for me, so if I get it in my stocking, I'll know that Santa is real – if I don't, then I know it's really Mum!'