Buster Boy’s podcast.

Earlier this week Buster Boy announced that he thought he should have a podcast. When I asked him what it was going to be about, he told me that he wanted to tell people all about the board games and video games that he liked. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce Rupert Reviews.

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You can download it straight into iTunes and hear exactly what cuts the mustard as far as this 7 year old gamer is concerned. The inaugural episode looks at Lego Star Wars.

I can remember when I was Buster Boy’s age how much fun it was to make recordings on my Dad’s tape deck, they usually only lasted a few weeks until the tape was full and I’d start recording over it again from the start of the tape. How amazing that this little snapshot of my son can not only be captured in perpetuity, but shared with our friends who are so far away. Living in the future is cooler than I could ever have imagined.

Lessons learnt at a lemonade stand

Today dawned like many others do in Albury during winter, overcast, foggy and cold, which naturally meant that the kids decided that they needed to play outside wearing as little warm clothing as possible. Around lunchtime Buster Boy announced that he and the Troll Princess had decided that they’d like to make some lemonade and took a shopping bag out with them to begin collecting lemons from the tree in the back yard. Eventually they returned, hauling a very full bag stuffed with lemons that they’d been able to reach, and declared that they were going to open a lemonade stand.

While the idea of the kids having a lemonade stand on the nature strip seemed incredibly cute, the pessimist in me thought that we would spend the afternoon placating disappointed children. Nevertheless we set about finding a recipe for fresh lemonade and getting to work in the kitchen. The lemons from our tree were amazing, the juice almost exploded from them as I cut them in halves and it took no time to get enough to make our lemonade.

While the lemonade cooled Buster Boy set about preparing his lemonade stand. With the help of the Troll Princess he made a sign, found some disposable cups and a tin for the money he hoped to make, and brought a table and chairs from the Troll Princess’ room to the front yard. By this time the fog had lifted, the clouds had parted and the sun began to illuminate our street.

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Still feeling pessimistic I went inside to phone our next door neighbour and another friend who I hoped could come over and provide some custom for the lemonade stand. Both phones rang out. I managed to reach our friend’s wife who told us that he was still at sport with the kids for another half an hour or so, and while on the phone I heard the front door slam open and the Troll Princess holler “We’ve got a customer!”.

Sure enough, a passing car had seen the kids out the front, pulled over, and bought a cup of lemonade. The kids were ecstatic, Rach and I were a little dumbstruck. Then it happened again, and again, and again. Complete strangers pulled up to buy cups of lemonade, and were pleasantly surprised when they discovered that the lemonade was actually quite nice. Along the way the Troll Princess decided to abandon the heady world of beverage service to play with the girl next door, but Buster Boy remained resolute. Soon enough the lemonade had run out and I was sent to the kitchen to prepare another batch, and then to the supermarket to buy more cups.

It was fantastic seeing all of these people give some time and a few cents to take part in the kids’ endeavour, they represented a range of ages and without exception treated our kids with warmth and respect. I don’t think I can adequately explain how proud Buster Boy was of himself, the lemonade stand was his idea and he sat on the nature strip until the sun had fallen below Nail Can Hill before he would consider shutting up shop for the day.

The whole experience was an amazing reminder of how wonderful people can be, and what good things can happen if you trust your kids and let them make decisions for themselves. It would have been very easy to dismiss the idea of the lemonade stand, the thought certainly occurred to me, so I’m glad that it ended up showing the kids that they can be rewarded for working hard and believing in themselves.

And what you all really want to know, they made twelve dollars.

What happened to Buster Boy?

Yesterday afternoon we faced the disconcerting task of chasing down Buster Boy after he didn’t make it home to the bus stop. He’s only been catching the bus for a bit over a week, and only on a few days during that time, so this week was supposed to be the start of a regular routine. Not knowing where your child is has to be one of the classic fears of a parent, so it’s interesting to reflect, 24 hours after the event, on what happened and how we all reacted.

We’d waited at the bus stop for a long time with no sign of the bus and had assumed that it was extremely late as we’d arrived at the right time and hadn’t seen it drive past. That was when my phone rang.┬áThe call that we got from the school said that Buster Boy had caught the wrong bus and gone to West Albury. We both thought that seemed strange as he’s very good at remembering details, but didn’t dwell on it as we were more concerned with when he’d get home. We were told he’d been transferred to another bus and would be dropped at his normal bus stop soon. At that point we decided to split up, Rach stayed at the bus stop where Buster Boy gets dropped off in the afternoon and I walked to the other side of the block where he gets picked up in the morning.

After a short wait a bus rolled around the corner and pulled up at my stop, there was no sign of Buster Boy so I assumed that he’d got off at the other stop where Rach had been waiting. I rounded the corner and looked up the hill to see Rach and the Troll Princess, but no Buster Boy. At this point the concern really began to kick in.

I called the bus company to find out what was going on. It turned out that Buster Boy had been on the right bus, he’d told the driver that she’d gone the wrong way, so she assumed he should be in West Albury, which was where he was now headed. I was placed on hold while they got in contact with the bus driver to organise somewhere for us to meet. I was told to be in town in fifteen minutes, the bus would meet us at the last stop in town before it went back to Wodonga. We rushed home, grabbed the car, and raced to the bus stop where we nervously waited.

After what seemed an eternity a green and white bus lurched into the bus stop and Buster Boy hopped off and ran over to us for a hug. We looked for blotchy eyes, or tear stained cheeks, but saw neither; he’d held it together through the whole ordeal, only letting the tears fall once he was safely back with us.

Rach and I felt absolutely horrible. Buster Boy had been on the right bus, so we figured that we must have been late to the bus stop, and were therefore the cause of his distressing afternoon. It was made even worse when through his tears he started to apologise for not getting home.

What came next was rather confusing, Buster Boy said that he’d missed his stop because the driver, who he hadn’t seen before “didn’t go up the hill”. He told us that when the bus started going in an unfamiliar direction he went to talk to the driver, telling her the street that he lived in and even pointing it out as they drove past. Rach and I didn’t know what to make of this, we didn’t doubt what Buster Boy had told us, but we also couldn’t imagine why the bus would deviate from its route.

We took him home, comforted him, and tried to reassure him that it would be OK to come home on the bus again. Buster Boy wasn’t convinced, so we agreed to leave any further discussion until morning. Despite that, Buster Boy told us again, more than once, that the new driver had gone a different way and that’s why he’d missed his stop. The certainty with which he told this story had me wondering where on earth the bus could have gone.

This morning we made a note to put in with Buster Boy’s bus pass, with his bus number and the stop where he gets off in the afternoon. Buster Boy wasn’t happy about coming home on the bus again, but realised that he wasn’t going to win the argument. We walked to the bus stop and Buster Boy obviously still felt some anxiety about the return trip, in honesty I did too.

By this stage I was almost convinced that there’d been some unaccounted for change of the bus route yesterday, but couldn’t imagine how or why. I rang the bus company to say thanks for the way they’d looked after Buster Boy, but hoped that I’d have an opportunity during the conversation to ask whether the bus had taken a detour for some reason. The opportunity didn’t present itself, I was left wondering.

As the time for the bus grew near this afternoon the sky remained grey and the rain poured down. Nevertheless, I went to the bus stop about twenty minutes early and stood beneath my umbrella, still with a slight pang of guilt, thinking that perhaps the bus had been early yesterday and we’d missed it. Today the bus pulled up on schedule, and my heart leaped as I saw Buster Boy tearing down the aisle to be first at the door. As the bus came to a stop I could see the driver talking to Buster Boy and as the door opened I caught the tail end of the conversation.

From what I could gather she was telling him that he should have said that this was his stop yesterday when she asked, and that had she known she would have come this way. Buster Boy was right, she didn’t go up the hill. She must have asked the kids on the bus as a group if any of them got off at Chambers St, the other kids from his stop weren’t on yesterday and Buster Boy wouldn’t have known the answer, so she took a short cut.

After a big hug, Buster Boy told me that he’d shown the bus driver his note, and what’s more he’d told her that she needed to go up the hill today. I was proud that he’d overcome this morning’s anxiety and taken some control of his situation, but the best was yet to come. As we walked down the hill towards home, hand in hand, Buster Boy looked up to me from underneath the little hood on his wet weather jacket and said, “Dad, you were right. It is OK going on the bus in the afternoon”, my heart soared. One of the wonderful things about kids is how quickly they can regain their confidence.

We got home to Rach and the Troll Princess and plenty more hugs. I retired to the kitchen to put make some hot chocolates and share what I’d heard with Rach. Her relief was palpable, quickly followed by a sense of absolute disbelief that a bus driver who was unfamiliar with all of the kids on her bus would change her route. Personally, I’m just glad to know that on this occasion we hadn’t failed our little boy, and that whatever worries he had have been well and truly dispatched.

Couch to 5K

I think we all like to believe that we’re in good health, eat well and are reasonably fit. In a similar vein, our kids like to believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen the hashtag #C25K popping up in my twitter stream, but I only recently decided to investigate what it meant. Turns out that quite a few of the people I follow had begun the Couch to 5k running program. C25K is an interval training program and although that’s hardly a new concept, its popularity has meant that a bunch of helpful resources have been created to assist you to get off the couch.

This morning I downloaded a music mix that was designed to accompany the C25K program, with the beat changing up or down according to whether you should be jogging or running, from Podrunner Intervals and loaded it onto my iPod, found my barely used pair of sneakers and headed out the door. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the first transition from a brisk walk to a jog felt like it was going to make my lungs explode, but by the time I reached the cooldown part of the workout I was actually disappointed that I had no more jogging sections to come.

Three times a week for the next 9 weeks I’ll be following the C25K program, if all goes to plan I’ll be able to do a 5K run in 30 minutes, which seems like quite a feat at this point in time. The concept of ‘getting fit’ always seems rather nebulous to me, the beauty of C25K is that there’s a well defined goal and an obvious way to get there.

Update: Second session finished. Buster Boy woke me up just after 6 and I se out with all of the other nutters. Part way through I started to worry that my usually dormant asthma was about to make a comeback, but it turns out it was mostly my under-developed lung capacity that was causing the problem.

Proud Dad moment.

Some friends of ours are moving to Sydney and we have inherited their backyard swing-set. I bought it home and re-assembled it today under the watchful eyes of Buster Boy and the Troll Princess. On the first test run of the two seat swing Buster Boy noticed a squeak coming from the pivot point where the swing meets the crossbar, without missing a beat he turned to Mrsdave and said

There’s a squeak there Mum. You better get some WD-40 to fix it.

All that time in the shed is beginning to pay off.