of pools & princesses…

I’ve been avoiding the swing set. With all the rain we’ve had recently, the midges and mosquitoes have been completely out of hand. I’m familiar with mosquitoes, and at home, I’ll coat myself with OFF!, whenever necessary, and they stay away. But the midges come in swarms, they bite, and they’re not deterred by bug spray, even the tropical strength variety. I now know what it was like for the Fellowship to cross the Midgewater Marshes… except I’m guessing they didn’t have any Bushman’s to put on.

But we’ve had a lot of heat, these last few days, and the puddles have dried up, so after the kids’ granddaddy put up their new netball hoop, going out into the yard wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. Nevertheless, we nearly emptied the can of spray, on the seven of us that were out there. The hoop was really put up for Bea to practice for her two netball teams, but the other girls wanted in.

So, Emmie started off taking aim at it, and despite being only six years old, she almost made it. Then we had her stand on a bucket, and things were even closer. But the sturdiest (and highest) option was the slide. Emmie and Sadie had to take turns standing at the top of the slide, and with plenty of encouragement, Emmie got it in, but Sadie didn’t.

Remember, Emmie’s our tomboy and Sadie’s our princess, so she isn’t as coordinated when it comes to sports (that’s no slam against princesses, she just hasn’t had enough practice!). But she was still determined, and her older sisters really went at it, telling her that if she said “I can do it” often enough, then she would. I resisted the urge to tell them how much like Happy Feet 2 (“if you will it, it will be so!”) this sounded, but I still believe that if you want to do it, you practice hard, which means eventually you’ll achieve it.

I still haven’t figured out what netball is supposed to be like. The hoop is like a basketball hoop, with no backboard, and no net under the hoop. So, why is it called “netball”, then? I forgot to ask the girls that one. I know that they can’t kick the ball, they pass it and when you catch it, you have to stop. I know that, because they always tell me that part is just like in Ultimate Frisbee. But since I’ve yet to see a game played, I haven’t yet discovered the attraction in this sport. It’s like basketball, apparently, but you can’t dribble the ball. I suppose I’d be good at it, then, because I stink at dribbling.

While we were out there, the “lady-like” conversation, which seems to be ongoing, continued. Our Sadie likes to wear dresses and skirts, while our Emmie likes to wear shorts. As you’ll see, it’s easier to flip upside down on the swings, and just pull your t-shirt back over your belly, then to swing in a skirt and not show everyone your knickers. With Bubby as an excellent example of what big girls shouldn’t be doing, we should be coming along well with this, right? And yes, I’m a girl, so it’s not like I can’t handle seeing a kid’s undies, but it’s still a good habit to practice early, good manners and how to be a lady (or a gentleman, like Daddy!). Remember, in this family, Daddy and Granddaddy are the only gentlemanly examples.  : )

Much later, Kit told me they were having a “saloon” in her room, but I took the time to explain that saloons are for drinking, shootouts in the Old West, and full of spittoons for tobacco juice. She was happy for the correction, assuring me they were having a “salon”, instead. Sadie was getting her curls brushed, which I found surprising and somewhat alarming, as she usually screams bloody murder over having her hair brushed. Which is why I’ve always been too chicken to fight it out over her hair with a brush. I always use water to smooth her hair down and pull her hair back without brushes or combs.

According to Sadie, though, Kit is “very gentle”, and not a squeak is heard during the whole session, though I don’t think they used THAT much detangler in her hair. I think Sadie just has it in her head that having Mummy brush her hair hurts and having Kit do it, doesn’t. Or maybe it’s just more fun in a “salon”.

While the salon was going on, Bubby came through the room carrying a pair of knickers (undies), so I put them on her, over her outfit, and she was thrilled with herself. Then, after she pulled the folded laundry off the bed, I got out Kit’s swimsuit and put that on her. So, she was even more charmed with herself, and went to show herself off.

And then, the princess emerged. One of their former nannies was visiting, so she and I dragged Princess Sadie outside for a photo shoot, though she insisted she had a very busy schedule, and had to go back upstairs to do something. But she’s very kind to her admiring public, so she deigned to pose for us. I must say, her curtsies don’t usually look so painful, but maybe the long curly hair unbalanced her. Bub came outside during this, and eventually I got her to smile for the camera.

The next day, we went with their former nanny to a friend’s, to swim in their pool, and I really wish I had pictures, but I tend to keep the camera out of sight, when we’re near water. I couldn’t find Bubby’s swim shirt, so Emmie found an old one, in a bright pink, with ruffles, but it was long enough to be a dress. Because it’s so hot and sunny in AUS, and you can get burned outside without trying, they often wear surf shirts or something similar, over or in place of swim togs. So, all the kids have them, as well as their regular swimsuits.

We got to the pool, and I found that Bubby has no fear of water, but the back of her swim shirt makes a good handle to pull her out with. One of those floating recliners made a great perch for her to see everything and test out the water, though she got dunked regularly, being so intrepid. The other girls leaped in and climbed out to do it again, while I kept a hand on Bubby and had Sadie attached to my back. It worked well, until J got back with Bea. Then we took turns with all the little ones.

As expected, the house was a little chaotic after we returned, but the kids had been warned that our cleaning lady had been there all day, so they weren’t to mess it up. We want the house to be beautiful for Mummy when she gets home, tomorrow, you know. They were pretty good about it, too, and I was thankful and able to concentrate on bathing Bubby, who still doesn’t like having her head doused to wash the shampoo out. So, since I was already in my swimsuit and still wet, I tried to get her to douse my head, too, but it didn’t really work. She has trouble lifting the bucket of water. She’ll figure it out eventually, though.

These days are busy, but never dull, with all the girls running around. I’ll have such happy memories to take with me, when I head home. And for all the tough spots in the days (because all days have them), I’ll cling to these moments, for always. And hope I remember a thing or two, for when I have my own kids.

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