Saturday, December 30, 2006

The mysterious disappearance of

I didn't notice until a couple of days ago, that The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies has disappeared into the cyber-void, it's domain name having been taken over by some cheap-looking portal to a bunch of Buffy-free commercial sites. This was where I used to go to find academic articles relating to the Buffyverse, where I went to feel intellectual (though sometimes requiring a little help from a very thick dictionary).

A couple of blogs I found, commented on Slayage's disappearance and reckoned it would be back soon, but I don't know - it's been a couple of weeks now and there's still no sign of it.

Happily, I discovered Junior Watcher, and All Things Philosophical on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: the series is still being updated.

I just hope that I still have enough working brain cells to understand it all.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pretty pictures

Spending half hour or so examining photos of The Little Madam and me, is an effective way of convincing me that Trinny and Susannah's tips on posing for photos ought to be taken seriously.
That's one reason you won't see my face here - I have way too many chins and jowls, way too little muscle tone.
But TLM doesn't have that problem though.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I think it's just the god-awful weather we're having at the moment - the wind, the blanket of grey overhead, the cool temperatures - but I've found myself feeling inordinately slothlike these last few days. Before you blame it on post-gluttony digestive slow-down though, let me assure you that I haven't been pigging out that much.

When it's sunny and warm, I itch to get out and about even if I have nothing particular in mind to do.

When it's yucky, especially if the wind is provoking a sneezy-wheezy response from me, all I seem able to do is potter about indoors feeling dozy.

Last night we finished the last of the three DVDs I rented in the weekend - DVDs which I almost didn't get to rent at all because it was at that moment that I discovered my bank balance was -$1.26.

We both really enjoyed A History of Violence (Cronenberg-directed, yet so lacking in wierdness), thought the film-student movie Hidden was too dull to continue after the first, arty-farty, 20 minutes, and had mixed feelings about Before Sunrise. I think that a 24-hour romance while training around Europe is all wonderful and memorable if you're in the middle of it. But it's kind of boring when you're watching someone else experience it, and you can only barely remember what it was like to be a single traveller with the whole world in front of you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lights, camera, action...

For the first time since I first moved into this house we all live in, it was decorated for Christmas. The boy wanted to be sure that The Little Madam got a taste of what Christmas was like when he was growing up. So on Christmas Eve, after TLM was tucked up in her cot for the night, the two of us set about hanging up the tackiest of flashing lights, shiny orbs and coloured ribbons (standing in for streamers).

Photos were taken (hopefully to be posted well before next Christmas) of TLM admiring the pretty lights, ripping open her presents and wearing the red velvet dress sent by her grandad from the UK (velvet being not nearly as inappropriate as you would think, for a summer Christmas, because we've had a terrible summer so far).

Having just started to say "yum yum" in relation to food, TLM's utterance was the biggest light in my mum's day when she said this after a mouthful of home-made dim sim. I hope it's made up for my regretful grumpiness on the Friday when I had to cart my mum around the supermarkets during the pre-holiday rush (my blood pressure has gone back to normal, but it took a while).

There were laughs aplenty at dinner - mainly coming from TLM herself, whose cousins were engaging in a massive peekaboo game with her. All the chortling didn't stop her from eating more dimsim and more deep-fried wontons though. The other adults were really impressed at this display of "good" eating ('cos the cousins wouldn't eat anything), but it makes me wonder what's going to happen in a few years time when it's going to be a bad thing that TLM so loves her fried and fatty food.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Another "bad" mother

I've just finished reading Confessions of a Bad Mother, by a Brit called Stephanie Calman. I do enjoy reading about other mothers who rely on the telly to keep their kids calm, openly admit to not enjoying the job on occasion and resort to bribery with food.

And the pop culture references were amusing without getting irritating, too.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It just stinks

Geez, you know we're coming up to Christmas when every other ad on the telly is for perfume.

Things that make you go "Eeek!"

The boy and I watched an amazingly creepy movie last night on DVD, Silent Hill. Apparently it's based on a game, one which the boy has never played because he thought it sounded too scary for him.

Boy, it was creepy alright. If you fill two hours with the most skin-crawling scenes from Ring and mix it with some of the wierdest dream sequences from The Cell, that would give you an idea of just how much "Eeeek!" was going on.

There were little, scurrying creatures in the basement that slow-burned to nothing. There were brain-coloured, pigeon-toed, creatures whose arms writhed under their skins and whose torsos exploded with blood that could melt helmet plastic. There were corpses, wrapped in barbed wire or gutted and hung from chain-link fencing.

And I haven't even told you about the over-sized man-eating beetles, the pyramid-headed butcher and the distorted sexy-mannequin nurses in the abandoned hospital.

It's probably not a good idea to watch this if you're nightmare-prone.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bug update

What The Little Madam has sounds like ursinia, but it's not ursinia because accoring to the Internet it's a flower. TLM loves flowers, but they don't make her poo.

Apparently this particular bacterium is a notifiable one. I received a call from the public health people and had to answer lots of questions about whether TLM had been in recent contact with sick kids or sick kids' poo (not if I can help it), that kind of thing.

So on the one hand it's a good thing that it's almost Christmas, because playgroups are finished for the next couple of months and she's not allowed to attend those until she's experienced at least two full days of healthy poo. On the other hand it's bad because now she's on antibiotics so she's not allowed to drink alcohol (just kidding - I'm sure her tolerance is even lower than mine).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Footloose and dairy-free

What a thing to be told so close to Christmas! I got a call at work (on my cellphone initially, but I never hear it ringing and after a while people stop trying to contact me on it...) and it was the people at the After Hours clinic.

The labs results on The Little Madam's poo sample had come back and apparently she's been a victim of some bacteria which I couldn't spell - You-sue-ree-ah or something. Then I was transferred to a doctor and I told him that TLM's been more-or-less fine except for the mild temperatures and the worsening diarrhea, and that I thought she might have become temporarily lactose-intolerant.

And that's when the doctor told me to keep TLM off all dairy products for at least the next two weeks. Not just cows' milk and cheese and yoghurt, but anything that has even the smallest smidgeon of dairy in its manufacture. Then, just for good measure, he told me to put her back on the sick-baby diet (i.e. crackers, bread, rice and water), a diet that even prison inmates don't have to put up with.

That means TLM's first food-accessible Christmas is going to be one in which she can't have more than the merest taste of roast turkey, ham or cake. And certainly no ice cream.

It also means that while the rest of the extended family is lying about stuffed with food, a certain somebody will be demanding extra aided-walks around the house.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Being short didn't save me from looking like Quasimodo

A friend of mine, also a mum, had been having terrible problems with her back recently. It was so bad for about a week that she couldn't even look after her own 19-month old son. She's able to stagger about now, but apparently it's going to be 4-5 months before she's "better".

All my life I never had back pain. I could do high-impact aerobics without shoes on and not get shinsplints, and I could use my back like a crane and never experience a single twinge of discomfort. I'd always put this down to being short, because most people I knew with dodgy backs were tall.

Lately though, it seems that every time I put my back under any sort of strain whatsoever (getting the buggy around the narrow porch, over the step and through the front door is a prime asking-for-it example), my back responds with acute pain and sometimes the inability to move easily for several minutes at a time. In the evenings, the boy gets his massage thumbs out and finds knots the size of golfballs on either side of my spine.

Perhaps, in my old age, my body is finally paying me back for all those times I pogoed in my extraordinarily heavy Doc Martin shoes.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

New television crush

Now that I'm completely and utterly up-to-date with Gilmore Girls, finished with The 4400 and waiting for season 3 of Deadwood to come out on DVD ('cos we've already missed too many episodes screening on the Prime channel), my new TV series of desire is Heroes.

It's quite comic book-y, sort of like X-Men but with more time to develop a half-way believable background history and characters. My two favourites are a pretty cheerleader (shades of Buffy here) who comes to the realisation that she is virtually unkillable, and a nerdily lovable Japanese guy who can bend space and time i.e. can stop poker games at the most convenient moment or travel to another country in another time.

There is a bit of gore though - some bad guys get literally torn apart by a brutal other-personality of an otherwise lovely mum and let's not forget the part where the cheerleader wakes up in the middle of her own autopsy.

The Little Madam won't be watching this of course. For the time being at least, she is perfectly happy with The Wiggles, Thomas and Friends, Fifi and The Flowertots and Boobah.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Spot the baby

The Little Madam is well on the road to recovery, thank you very much. The poos are are now infrequent and olfactorily unobstrusive, the appetite is back and so is the urge to walk everywhere (which is killing my back).

But now there's a new worry. Since last night TLM's arms and legs have been covered in little pink spots. They don't seem to bother her at all, and they are definitely not meningoccal septicaemia spots. It's been suggested that they're heat rash, from her earlier fever, or else a viral skin infection piggybacking on her tummy bug.

One thing I'm not going to do though - if I can help it - is look it up on the Internet. The last thing I need is to fill my limited head space with the gory details of obscure and scary skin afflictions. I'm just gonna keep an eye on it over the weekend and get her back to the doctor's if her skin hasn't cleared up by then.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The day-off from Hell

I stayed at home today to look after The Little Madam, collect and deliver her poo sample and take her to see the GP. The boy was all in favour of this, even though technically it's something our nanny could do while I went to work. It was no holiday.

Despite TLM's temperature dropping to something resembling normal, she's spent the day veering from one extreme to the other. On moment she's laughing at the little Wiggles singing Hot Potato, the next she's screaming unconsolably - and then maybe she has a big poo explosion.

One poo broke through the nappy banks and onto her trousers. When I tried to pull them off I also succeeded in flicking bits of it over my face, shirt and jeans. Oh, and also the rug.

Then there was the poo which squirted out while TLM was in her cooling bath. As soon as I replaced the bathwater and the baby, there was an even more frightening explosion.

By the end of today I thought she was screaming herself hoarse because I was unwittingly passing on stress-y vibes, but the boy has had no better luck since he got home.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bug-ridden. Again.

And there I was feeling sorry for myself this morning because of my violent hayfever...

Mere months after The Little Madam's last bout of gastroenteritis, my little bean has been struck again by a tummy bug.

It didn't start out that way. It began with a temperature of 38.1 degrees Celsius, which I promptly treated with Pamol. Apparently TLM stopped screaming the moment I left for work this morning and played happily with the nanny right up until the meds wore off.

Then came more high temperatures, more grizzling and, finally, a really foul and runny poo. A couple of quick calls to the Healthline nurse (because I accidentally hung up on her the first time) told me it'd be okay to keep the sick bubs at home, but by the end of the day her hot little bod went into egg-frying temperatures (40.1 degrees, to be precise) so I took her to the After Hours clinic.

Do you know how to get a urine sample from a non-toilet-trained girl? You tape a specially designed little plastic bag to her girlie bits, force her to drink water and hope that she wees before she poos. In our case, the poo won. I thought I was being clever by grabbing an old pudding pottle and retrieving a poo sample for the lab, but it turns out that you need a special pot for poo samples and anyway the lab was closed and will only take fresh specimens.

By the time all this finished happening it was about 2 1/2 hours past TLM's bedtime, and she still had to undergo a cooling sponge bath before she could go to bed. It was pretty damned close to my bedtime, actually. She's sleeping now, poor thing.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Glad to be a temp

With The Little Madam waking up lots of times during the night, looking for cuddles to distract her from teething pains/dreams/the mental urge to walk in her sleep, I'm really not well focussed in the mornings. So while it's nice that we have such a great nanny to keep TLM entertained and on her toes (metaphorically, anyway), I've not been able to give my job 100%.

Meetings are the worst. Not only do I have to sit through 90 minutes of discussion about topics I'm not particularly interested in, but I have to fight the urge to give in to my body's need to make up for lost sleep as well. It doesn't make for a career-wise combination.

I'm probably luckier than most, in that we can live quite comfortably on the boy's income ('cos geekiness pays) and I'm actually making money with my job (I've worked out that, after childcare and transport costs, I'm making about $40 per week). But once this contract is finished I think I'm going to stick with being a SAHM, at least for a while.

Of course, TLM will be enrolled into some kind of daycare pretty smartly - just a couple of mornings a week or something - because she's going to miss all that stimulation and I'm going to miss all that baby-free time.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Wii in Mii

It's been a while since my last blog post, hasn't it? In fact, I think the last time I took such a long blog hiatus, I came back with a brand new baby.

This time I haven't so exciting an excuse. I've just been busy - busy catching up on sleep, watching DVDs (Touching the Void was great - harrowing, but great. I was expecting more of a dramatisation and less of a documentary, but actually it was probably a good way to do it) and aquainting myself with the new Nintendo Wii (rhymes with "pee") which the boy bought us for Christmas.

Everyone in the family has an avatar, or mii - the boy's looks like a saucy Frenchman, mine looks like a disappointed Asian TV news reporter and The Little Madam's (which hopefully will remain unplayed for the time being) looks like a very wise six-year-old.

Being mostly a non-gamer, I expect that I'll only be playing with the Wii when challenging the boy to a game of ten-pin bowling (I thrashed him last night) or golf (he thrashed me). Although the pool game could be very useful in improving my game (I'm famously hopeless).

So there you go.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My big night out

My work is putting on a big do for the staff tomorrow evening. We're all going to a pantomime (Aladdin), followed by dinner and probably drinks after that. Not only that, but it's staff only i.e. no partners, so babysitting isn't going to be a problem for me (hee hee!).

The only thing that worries me about my going out on the town for the first time in about 18 months - apart from the possibility that the boy doesn't get home in time to take over care of The Little Madam - is that my staying-out stamina is somewhat diminished these days.

I reckon that by the time the panto has finished it'll be pretty close to the time or night I'm normally horizontal on the couch, fully-fed and almost too drowsy to watch the rest of the Angel DVD (or else I'll be tensely waiting for TLM to get over her teething gums and go the hell to sleep). By the time dinner arrives I'll be wishing I was home already instead of making small talk over my warm lamb salad (which I hope will be on the menu). When everyone else is getting nicely sloshed on wines I'll be trudging to my car, tiredly walking into rubbish bins like a drunk person.

On the other hand, it'll be a night out and I'm going to do my best to stay awake through it all.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Log off

I've decided to stop obsessively logging The Little Madam's day-to-day details - her sleeps, her eats and sometimes even the state of her bottom. While it's often been handy to go back weeks or months to see how much her napping has improved (or not) and that sort of thing, I really don't want to be recording the times of her bowel movements when she's off doing her Ph.D on motherhood neuroses (is it still stalking when it's your mum whose watching everything you do?).

It's only been a couple of log-free days, so I still catch myself trying to recall how many grapes disappeared down TLM's little throat, and whether she sang in her cot until 6.35 or 6.37, but I'm confident that I will adjust.

So to mark this special occasion I'm posting a photo of TLM attempting to eat yoghurt with a spoon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Armchair adventuring

Hot on the heels of the last adventure book, I'm now reading Touching the Void. You might remember the movie a few years ago, based on a true story about two guys who run into trouble on a mountaineering trip in the Andes.

No, it's not the one about the football team that ends up eating each other.

It's the one about what happens when you go climbing, fall and end up risking the life of the person who's stopping you from tumbling into the abyss.

I'm not going to deny this book is well-written, but if ever a book could be improved by a little celluloid magic it's this one. There was a load of climbing jargon and no glossary. Too lazy to look for my dictionary, I had to guess what a col is, and whether a serac is an ice formation or local slang for mountain goat droppings.

It's still a gripping story, but I'm going to look out for the DVD.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'm just Wiggling

I was a little sad when I heard the news that the yellow Wiggle is leaving, because I've become so accustomed to having Wiggle-ness in the house. Our DVD of The Wiggles Movie gets played a lot, and I must have borrowed every single CD of theirs the library owns.

The Little Madam has learned (from me!) to move her head from side to side in time (sort of) to the music, and lately I've been taking it a step further by demonstrating some Wiggly dancing. I thought I was doing really well, waving my arms around, pointing my fingers, twisting and turning around as per sung instructions (thank the gods there's no dosee-doe-ing). After a couple of songs though, I noticed that TLM had stopped trying to imitate me and instead was sitting quietly with a quizzical look on her face, as though wondering what the heck I thought I was doing.

And thus, spazzy dancing is learned.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Getting into position

Someone from the parent's group I meet with, told me about a regular yoga class which welcomes babies and toddlers. Apparently, during the class, the kids mosey around the room, hopefully playing with the toys they brought from home or else bum-shuffling onto their mum's yoga mat just as they are attempting to Salute the Sun.

The first time I tried to make the class, it just happened to have been cancelled and I didn't find out because I'm not on the e-mailing list. The second time, we arrived so early that the whole place was still all locked up, and I couldn't be bothered hanging around for 20 minutes in the galeforce winds on the off-chance that the class hadn't been cancelled again.

Third time lucky.

There were five of us, each with one child and his or her toys, plus the instructor and his child. This made for a yoga class with an amusing difference. In the middle of all those downward-facing dog poses was the discordant banging from a piano played by someone too short to see the keys. For some, whole sequences were interrupted by requests for "boobie". I myself missed a couple of forward bends when I leaped off my mat to find a biscuit and a sippy cup of milk for The Little Madam, to stifle her "I'm hungry" moans.

TLM had a great time - she always does when there are other kids' toys to play with. Although the fun ended during our ten-minute meditation period - surprise, surprise - when she insisted on climbing aboard my supine form and using my stomach as a trampoline. Well, that wasn't when the fun ended; the fun ended when I tried to encourage her to climb off me and she accidentally caught the floor with her head.

I think I'll go back next week, with cushions.

Monday, November 27, 2006

More news on the upstanding-baby front

The Little Madam and I went to visit a neighbouring mum-and-daughter this afternoon. The girls, both the same age, seemed to enjoy each other's company, and I enjoyed having a natter with another adult whilst safe in the knowledge that TLM's entertainment was being taken care of. The other little girl talks like a Teletubby, but is otherwise cute, smart and already walking a few steps at a time.

And it was here that TLM's latest mini-milestone happened. She crawled up to the step leading to the kitchen and crawled up the step! Then she slid around and launched herself off the step until upright, her hands landing against the legs of a nearby change table. And there she stood, slightly turned towards us with one hand in mid-air.

It was a proud moment. We even took photos, although we had to encourage TLM to repeat her feat a few times before we got the timing right.

For the rest of the afternoon, TLM wandered about the lounge looking for things to pull up on. I imagine it won't be long before she's standing up in her cot at night, with hands shaking the bars and demanding to be let out to play.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Swim and sink

And about time too.

Yesterday the boy offered to take The Little Madam off my hands for the afternoon (okay, just two hours rather than all afternoon - but I'll try not to complain), and actually managed to go for a swim in that time.

In contrast to my younger and fitter days, I only managed to crawl 18 25-metre lengths of the pool - and that's with a breather every couple of lengths. Still, it was wonderful to be in a pool and not be crouching in the water clutching a slippery young 'un. I just hope I can keep this up on a regular basis. Perhaps with a few more swims I'll be able to wave vigorously, without feeling the echoes in those fleshy bits where my triceps used to be.

After my swim, I sought out a cafe where I could have some lunch and a little quiet magazine time. But when I tried to pay for my ham'n'cheese toastie with my ATM card, I was horrified - and embarrassed - when the card was declined. I made three attempts, just to be sure, before the manager took pity on me and told me I could pay her later (quite touching really, because I'd never even set foot in that place before).

Then, during the walk back to the house, I realised what had happened to my bank balance. Long story short - earlier in the week I'd discovered that I was underpaying my nanny by 6% in holiday pay, and instead of transferring the difference into the Wages account I'd stupidly transferred the total corrected amount for two weeks wages - on top of the automatic payment which had already gone through. And now I was heavily in the red, earning my bank unknown dollars in overdraft interest fees.

Sometimes I could just smack myself on the head and call me a half-wit.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Second-baby jealousy

Yesterday I found an email in my junk mail folder, that turned out to be a message from an old friend with whom I thought I'd lost contact. It was an announcement that he and his partner had just become second-time parents.

Now, the last time I saw my friend, his other half was about 6 months pregnant with their first child and I was still in my keeping-it-secret first trimester with The Little Madam. So that makes their first-born about 18 months old. Which means that second-born was conceived when first-born was only 9 months old.

But I didn't tell you that in order to make any judgements about having 2 kids so close together. I don't have any opinion on the matter.

I mention it because it makes me a little jealous. If she was so keen to have a second baby so soon, then surely the previous 9 months of baby-raising must've been a total piece of cake, without the months of sleep-deprivation and rocking the baby to sleep for three hours every night. They must've had an easy time of it, to feel confident about doing it all again already. And that's what I'm jealous about.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No more lonely nights

After almost two weeks away on business, the boy is back tomorrow. It'll be interesting to see how The Little Madam treats him on his return - will she be joyful at the sight of her beloved daddy, or spurn him for leaving her for so long?

But that's not why I decided to blog tonight, despite having almost no Internet service via the wireless network. I'm blogging because I can't answer the following question -

When the boy arrives home tomorrow, should I plan to make him a lovely homecooked dinner, or simply hand TLM over and disappear for a day or two?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Her first Christmas parade

After bearing the brunt of a couple of major tantrums this morning (all because she wanted to stay in the swing when we were at the park - because, y'know an hour in the swing just isn't long enough), I hoped that The Little Madam would behave better at the Christmas parade this afternoon.

She didn't enjoy the parade as much as I'd hoped, but then it was really hot and unshaded, the band music was really loud (especially the bagpipes - why are bagpipes so loud?) and she didn't recognise any of the giant TV characters like Spongebob or Scooby Doo. I think the fairies went down well though. (Now I'm struggling to recall whether we actually saw Santa Claus...)

What TLM enjoyed much better was the post-parade visit to the central city park. It's got this unusual gravel-moving/wetting apparatus which the toddlers were really loving, and she got a kick out of throwing gravel into my jeans turn-up cuffs (funny how the stuff gets everywhere - later when I changed her nappy it was full of poo-coated gravel). She behaved impeccably, making me wonder whether she only throws big wobbly fits every now and then to prevent me from becoming complacent.

It was a sociable afternoon too, because I spent a happy couple of hours chatting with a young Jordanian mum and watching TLM play with her 4-year-old. And then I met a fellow MacLaren Mac3 buggy-owner, and we bitched about how poorly-made and designed those things are.

All in all, a good end to the day.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Food fight

Today I've been going bug-eyed crazy-monster, because The Little Madam has been really acting up since yesterday afternoon. She whines and whines and all I can do is offer food and drink, sniff her bum in case she's got a pooey nappy and make sure she gets to bed nice and early.

Plus, her food-throwing habit has increased in intensity lately. For a while, it looked like it was more or less under control, but now she starts dropping food mere minutes into her meal.

When the kitchen floor starts resembling the "before" photo in a vacuum cleaner advertisment, I try to interpret that as a sign from Madam that she's had her fill. Or, she doesn't like what's on offer. But as soon as I start clearing up, I'll find her popping bits of food into her mouth which had been sitting on her bib.

It's possible that she finds my expressions of annoyance entertaining - but I've already tried simply ignoring her behaviour and it wasn't working anyway.

Perhaps it's just getting to me a lot more at the moment 'cos the boy is away on business, which means I've had little baby-free time (apart from when I'm working) for over a week. And maybe TLM misses her super-fun play-time Daddy, and is taking it out on me.

I'm wondering whether TLM acts up for the nanny...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Is it weta season?

The boy really doesn't like bugs. If there's one flying around the living room, he can't just ignore it like I would; he won't rest until he's squashed the life out of it, usually with a current edition of the Dominion Post.

And wetas really give him the willies. Before he left on his business trip, his rubbish-taking-out task came to an abrupt halt when he discovered one of those creepy crawly things lurking next to the bathroom waste bin. I had to go in and wrestle it out the window (because I don't like to kill bugs - unless they're flies or cockroaches) before he would finish the job.

I don't know how The Little Madam would react to a weta, although I almost found out the other day. But I swiftly removed it from in front of the kitchen door before she had a chance to find it. I suspect she'd just put it in her mouth.

And then, this morning, I was unloading the washing machine and put my hand on a newly-washed weta - a monster of a thing - and squealed like a boy with the willies.

Never before have we been so inundated with these buggers. I wonder what it's all about?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I know I shouldn't worry, but...

I always assumed that The Little Madam's bum-shuffling was just an alternative to crawling and nothing more. So it annoyed me when I kept coming across advice from SPARC (a government organisation hell-bent on making us Kiwis do more exercise), about the importance of crawling to neurological development in babies, toddlers and young children. It seemed to me that they were ignoring bum-shufflers, because surely bum-crawlers don't end up all retarded do they?

But the Plunket nurse, at TLM's 15-month weigh-in, seemed terribly keen that I encourage her to get crawling. And she crushed my already diminishing peace of mind by referring to some research linking bum-shuffling with learning difficulties.

So I Googled it, as you do. And there are numerous mentions of bum-shuffling being linked to learning difficulties, especially dyslexia.

So for the rest of the evening I'll be searching the discussion boards for anecdotes about bum-shufflers who grew up to be Nobel Prize-winning scientists, Mensa members and polymaths.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sleeps, books DVDs

The nanny’s nap spell has broken.

After a weekend in which I was proud to have gotten The Little Madam to take 2-hour and almost-3-hour naps respectively, I arrived home from work this afternoon to hear TLM squealing away in her room as though determined to prove that she was wide awake. There was to be no nap today, and no doubt the catnap she took in the car on the way home from her outing at the Botanic Gardens had something to do with this.

So TLM’s bedtime tonight was a full hour early, at 6pm (i.e. 5pm in the afternoon if you’re going by real – non-Daylight Saving – time). Still, she went to sleep almost straight away and as long as she’s not ready for action at 5am tomorrow I’m fine with that.

And I’ve broken my parenting literature habit. For the last week or so I’ve been engrossed in To the Poles (without a beard) by Catharine Hartley. It’s a true account of a woman whose obsession with walking to the South Pole, without any previous polar experience whatsoever and almost no physical training, drives her to become (with one other) the first British woman to walk to the South Pole. And then she decides to have a go at the North Pole as well.

It’s pretty riveting reading, although Catherine does come across as a sort of Bridget Jones on ice (there’s the 30-something-ness, the drinking, the fags, the embarrassments – though not the romances).

Now that I’ve run out of Gilmore Girls DVDs to watch in the two hours or so between TLM’s bedtime and my plunge into the depths of sleepiness – at around 9pm – it’s back to the Buffy’s. The Season is Four, the episodes are This year’s girl and Who are you – or, the ones where Buffy and Faith swap bodies. It’s so very Face/Off.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Soon to be upstanding

No longer content to rest on her bum, The Little Madam has started to get up onto her hands and knees and occassionally attempt to stand as well. She's not quite there yet - she still needs someone to prop her up against the sofa so she can pull everything off it onto the floor - but this afternoon when I pulled her to standing by her wrists, she liked it so much she demanded several encores.

TLM even tried standing up in her baby bathtub, which had me trying to formulate an emergency flooding plan.

It's probably going to mean a few disturbed nights, as she's sure to continue practising in her cot.

Still, I'm really quite excited about it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Those longer naps - it's not all good.

Ever since the nanny started working for me, The Little Madam has been doing two-hour naps - at least, she has on the days the nanny has worked.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, the nanny took care of TLM and put her down for her naps - and TLM has napped for two hours.

Thursday, when I don't go to work so I can take TLM to her weekly Waterbabies class, TLM only managed an hour and a half.

Today, Saturday, was the same.

Also, lately TLM has been resisting bedtime. Normally, she's so tired from nap-deprivation that she almost welcomes getting into her cot. Now there are tears as soon as the last line of Rockabye Baby is sung. After I've closed her door, I've ended up going back in once or twice before she'll settle.

So, not only is TLM sleeping better for the nanny than she is for me; all that extra day sleep she's been getting means that she's just not tired enough to go to bed for the night without a fight.

I suppose it's another example of how mothering doesn't get any easier as baby gets older, it just gets different.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


The boy got a fright early one evening, when he went into The Little Madam's bedroom to put her down for the night. Protuding freakishly from the ceiling was a wavy, translucent vine. He fetched a ladder and cut it off, but really this had opened up a nice big can of juicy worms. And it had also probably solved the puzzle of why, every time I tried to switch the light on in TLM's room, the lighting fuse blew, forcing me to retrieve the Civil Defence shoebox from the storage cupboard and the fuse wire from our office.

It's funny how much growth can end up on one's house over the winter, without its inhabitants noticing. I really hadn't realised that one side of my house was almost completely over-grown in thick, woody vine. I certainly hadn't an inkling that it had crept into the roof cavity, looking for bits of electrical wiring to wreck.

There's a landscaping guy out there now, with his team, despite the rain and cold. They arrived minutes before I was going to put TLM down for her nap (relatively early at 11.30), armed with chainsaws and handsaws and dressed in shorts.

Do you think that a nap-avoiding 15 month-old who almost fell asleep on the way home from her swim class, but then got second wind and proceeded to empty out all her toy boxes, would be able to nap through the noise of chainsaws, thumping boots and trestle-assemblage? The answer, it seems, is yes.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hi ho , hi ho, it's off to work I go

My first day back at work yesterday went pretty well. The Little Madam was so engrossed in the nanny's toys that she didn't even look up when I called out "Seeya after lunch!" to her. After I got in to work, I was so so busy that it wasn't until a couple of hours had passed before I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to be anxiously dialling home for a report on how things were going.

Apparently TLM and her new best friend had a great time playing with toys, reading books and going for rides up and down the hallway in her little car (well, TLM did the riding, the nanny did the pushing).

And the nanny got TLM to do a massive 2-hour nap from midday, which meant that I had a nice break when I got home.

I read somewhere that when little kids start daycare, they may not show separation anxiety until the second or third day. Well, this seems to be true of TLM and her new nanny. This morning, TLM started to fuss as soon as I put my jacket on, and the nanny's prettily coloured scarves failed to distract her when I waved goodbye and resolutely marched out the door.

But I'm confident everything's going to be fine. When I got home at midday, the nanny was full of stories about the fun time they had at the playgroup, and the little friend TLM made.

And I have to admit it's quite nice to have an excuse to wear nice clothes too - at least, the ones I can still fit into.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Easy money

I start my job tomorrow, and the new nanny started today. The idea was for today to be a settling in day for the her and The Little Madam, but it conveniently doubled as the morning I shopped for work clothes.

The nanny arrived at 8am (but starting tomorrow she'll start at 7.30) and played with TLM for about an hour. But when TLM started showing tired signs at the usual time of 9am, the nanny offered to try putting her down for a nap. I wasn't expecting TLM to nap for anyone else, at least to start with. I'd anticipated she would have a whole morning of fun and games, and then crash when I returned home to get her down for an early afternoon nap.

So I was quite impressed when, after the nanny emerged from TLM's room, I didn't hear any cries or squeals. So I left for town.

Two hours, many clothing shops and a single purchase later (I'm sooo hard to clothe), I was home and expecting to hear the squealing and babbling of an actively playing 15-month-old. But it turned out that, after I'd left the house, TLM had spent the next half hour talking to herself and the next two hours after that sleeping. This left the nanny with 2 1/2 hours out of 4, twiddling her thumbs.

That was an easy 60 bucks to earn.

p.s. Hopefully we'll be able to push TLM's big nap further towards midday, so that I get my money's worth out of the nanny as well as blogging time when I get home from work :-)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

One of my top five all-time most unpleasant activities

One would be - sitting in a non-airconditioned car in the middle of a traffic jam on a hot, hot day, with no prospect of moving forwards and no cold drink sitting handily in the passenger seat.

When I was at the Bank, one of the most horrible events was the annual performance appraisal. Every year I was sure that this time I would be exposed as a pretender to geekiness, but every time I survived to fix yet more bug-ridden computer programmes.

Being my mum's taxi driver used to suck unimaginably. Waiting at the meat counter for hours while she fastidiously searched for the perfect pork shoulder, seemed to drained the life out of me. Funnily enough, it's not quite so bad any more. It's probably because seeing her and The Little Madam get along so well makes me feel happy.

Cleaning the toilet. Does anyone not hate this chore? I recently tried out a new toilet-cleaning product - you just squirt the stuff around the inside of the bowl and leave it for ten minutes or so before flushing it all away. Well, that toilet bowl is now looking almost as clean as the toilets you see on the television ads for - um - toilet cleaner. And I'm almost as joyful about it as the housewife on the ad, too.

But today, the rank of most unpleasant activity has to be - getting fitted for a bra.
Not only must I study my flabby self near-naked in bright light, with the added risk of the changing room curtain blowing aside to allow any loitering perv a full-on view of my fat rolls and skin blemishes, but I've got to let the bra-fitter see me in all my un-sexy glory as well. Usually the bra-fitter is a middle-aged or elderly woman, and somehow that makes the whole experience relatively unthreatening. But when the person dropping my boobs into their respective cups, is a nubile young woman who still has her figure and a social life, well it's pretty damned close to humiliating.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Found nanny

The nanny hunt did not get off to a good start. The prospect I'd "interviewed" (not very well, because what experience do I have in interviewing job applicants? None.) on Wednesday turned up about 2 hours late due to problems with transport, and then told me yesterday that she didn't want the job after all.

I'd hoped to be able to make a decision by the end of the weekend, so if the second nanny applicant didn't work out I'd have to go with the in-home caregiver who lives in town (who is in fact really great, but I dread spending the next three months getting on and off buses with a squirmy baby on my back).

But I was saved. The second nanny applicant turned up on time and immediately pulled out a small bag of hand-made finger puppets, with which she had TLM charmed like a...well, like a snake charmer and a cobra.

The rapport, along with the impressive CV and the adoringly glowing letters of recommendation, was enough for me. I hired her.

However, we aren't going to be signing on the dotted lines until later today. So I hope I'm not jinxing things by announcing the news prematurely.

If all goes well, I'll be officially a working mum early next week.

So, how many of you are there?

The boy came up with another interesting link.

This one invites you to enter your first and last names (there is nowhere for your middle name), and then tells you how many people in the US have your name.

The Little Madam shares her name with absolutely zero people in the US, whilst I have four name-alikes.

I'm not sure how useful this is to anyone though.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thoughts on underwear

Happy and Blue 2 asks the question - what is your favourite invention - and my answer was self-cleaning underwear.

Which, of course, doesn't exist yet.

But then I had a memory flashback.

There was this one time, on the telly, when I saw an item about Teflon-coated underwear.

That must surely have been a sincere attempt at self-cleaning underwear. Except having a Teflon on the inside of one's knickers doesn't so much clean it, as prevent anything from sticking to it.

Is that a good thing?

Now, if one were to do a poo or a wee, the stuff is just going to slide right off - where do you think it's going to go?

Once I knew a woman, recently arrived from China, who expressed disappointment at the unavailability in New Zealand of throw-away knickers. They don't sound at all comfortable, but I bet they'd be handy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All credit to the other bloggers

I don't normally push other people's blogs, because it's hard enough getting you lot to read this one without pointing you elsewhere. But I'm compelled to tell you about - nay, rave about - The Big Side Order. It's creator, Gary James, writes wonderfully and wittily about his adventures in the Yorkshire wilds, looking for love and the way back to the car. If you haven't found it already, go see him and tell him I sent ya.

And in a moment of diplomacy, let me assure you that if you're already on my blogroll then I'm loving reading you right now...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Weaning The Little Madam from her bedtime breastfeed was, I thought, going to be tough. It's been part of her bedtime routine since she was about a month old, and we all know how much kiddies hate to have their routine mucked about with.

But it seems that TLM is making it easy for me. For the past few days, her nostrils have been so clogged with snot that she's only been able to breastfeed maybe a couple of times. Last night she didn't even bother trying, even though I'd deliberately tried to minimise her mucous-ness by cutting out the dairy products that day.

So tonight I decided not to offer it to her. And she didn't even seem to notice.

It's turning out to be much, much easier than I'd anticipated. And I'm turning out to be just a little bit sadder about it than I'd expected.

The hunt continues

When I rang work to update my boss-to-be on the childcare situation so far, she surprised me with an offer to subsidise The Little Madam's childcare costs. What's more, she told me that if the in-home carer doesn't work out, she'll heavily subsidise the cost of hiring a live-out nanny.

Isn't that just about every working mother's dream?

This increases my options so much more, so I'm that much more likely to find someone I'm completely - or even mostly - happy with.

After I heard the news, the terrible upper-back and neck pain I'd been suffering from in the last few days subsided noticeably, and I've been able to stop taking Voltarin (an anti-inflammatory which just happens to aggravate my asthma).

Meanwhile, I'm going through in my mind what instructions I'll have to give regarding TLM's morning naps. Something along the lines of - put her down for a nap around three hours after she woke up this morning, but if she looks tired earlier then try for earlier. But if she looks wide awake, keep her up until she starts looking tired. But if she hasn't fallen asleep after half and hour, get her up and try to keep her up until she's had her morning tea and try again. And if she doesn't go to sleep after that, give her an early lunch and I'll try for an early afternoon nap when I get her home.But try to work in an outing each morning...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Meet the nanny

So we met the caregiver mentioned in the last post, and my fears about miscommunication were pretty well realised.

You see, I initially called her on the Tuesday and told her we'd drop by on Friday. But later that day, the agency rang and told me the caregiver had expecting me that day - not Friday.

Then, yesterday I rang and asked to postpone our meeting because of The Little Madam's cold. I suggested a couple of different days and times, neither of which suited her. Finally we settled on today - Saturday - at 2pm. Only it turned out that the caregiver had somehow mistakenly agreed to Saturday at 11.30. Not a good start, I think.

So yes, the English being "not one hundred percent" was no exaggeration.

However, her 3 1/5 year old son played really well with TLM, excitedly bringing out all his library books and toys, including the annoyingly loud musical moneybox. And the caregiver herself, though without formal qualifications or first-aid training, was as gentle and nice as I'd been told.

So there you have it. She gets along with TLM and her son promises to be a good playmate, but we'd have to communicate everything in writing to avoid any more misunderstandings.

Friday, October 27, 2006

snorts and worries

The Little Madam's slight sniffliness has developed into a full-blown cold (which helps explain her irribility of late), and it hasn't taken long for my sinuses to mucous-up in sympathy.

The timing's not exactly convenient, since we were supposed to be meeting our potential caregiver today. It's been postponed until tomorrow, but in all honesty I doubt that she'll be any safer from our bogey-germs by then.

I shouldn't judge until we've at least met the nice-sounding woman who's offered her home and her childcare services, but already I'm not totally sure she's the right person for the job.

For one thing, her English is "not one hundred percent" (her agency's words - she's from India). Kiwis tend to speak pretty quickly compared to other English-speakers, and I tend to mix fast-speaking with spoonerisms and mumbling. There could be a lot of opportunity for mis-communication.

Then there's the fact that she has no formal childcare qualifications whatsoever. She'll be studying toward one while she's working, but it's really not the same - I just envisioned that the person showing my little girl the world would have been trained already.

Also, not meaning to be racist - I'd far rather that the person who spends 15-20 hours per week with TLM was of either the boy's culture (English, Welsh) or mine (Chinese, Kiwi). I reckon TLM would be more comfortable with that.

Though, aside from the first concern, I'm probably making too much of it. Just because a person hasn't book-learned something doesn't necessarily mean they aren't going to be great at it. And there are probably tons of well-adjusted kids who're being raised by caregivers of a different culture and language from them (like the children of expats, for instance).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Get me some Valium. Now.

There's something about the last hour or so of The Little Madam's day which utterly exhausts me by the time it's over.

Over-tired from refusing to have her afternoon nap, she issues a steady whining monologue which I try to ignore - except sometimes she whines because she's doing a huge poo, so there's a good chance that by nappy-free time there's a fulsome, smelly trackmark waiting for me.

By dinnertime, TLM's more interested in throwing food than eating it. I waver between issuing a stern "NO", and simply ignoring it in the hope that some of the peas and meatballs rebound off the wall and into her mouth. (I've tried simply ending the meal as soon as she starts acting up, but then I worry she'll go to bed hungry and not sleep well).

I usually put on a Baby Einstein DVD during nappyfree time, so she'll leave me alone while I get her bath ready. But Baby Einstein no longer holds TLM in a hypnotic trance. So to minimise the possibility of carpet burns on her bottom (she's a bum-shuffler, remember), I strap her into her infant chair with a cloth nappy under her backside. Whining continues as she struggles to get free of the chair harness.

You may have tried to dress a freshly-greased baby who's intent on practicing her rolling, wriggling and sitting up. If you have, you're probably already nodding in recognition. If you haven't, you're welcome to drop by for some workplace training.

Once she's in bed, she pretty much goes straight to sleep, for which I'm indescribably grateful. Our baby-free evening has begun - which means I'm free to lie inert on the couch until either I'm persuaded to make dinner, or the takeaways arrive.

Hmm...maybe this time TLM really is turning one-nap girl.

The calm after the storm

It's hard to believe that it's actually calm and sunny today - the sort of weather you always think Spring should offer up, instead of those gale-force winds, toe-numbing temperatures and pelting rain that characterise every single Labour Weekend I can remember.

Yesterday, because I was sick of being cooped up indoors, I took The Little Madam out to the local playgroup and we nearly got blown backwards into the traffic we'd just crossed. Really. At the traffic lights I had to brace myself by planting one leg way back and leaning heavily into the buggy. The buggy's rain cover kept threatening to blow right off and sometimes I had to choose between holding onto my rain hood or holding onto my baby (she won).

But after four full days of atrocious weather,the kind that blows cars off mountain roads and turns a Cook Strait ferry crossing into the ultimate punishment for forgetting one's seasickness pills, at last it's Spring-like.

I think we'll go for a nice walk.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In which two gay cowboys mumble their way through a whole movie

Yep, I'm talking about Brokeback Mountain. I'm a bit behind on the movie-watching front, but at last I've caught up with this one.

Mumbling aside, it was actually a really good movie. I didn't actually like Ennis and Jack until towards the end though, twenty years after the start of their affair and still no closer to having a life together. It was probably seeing Ennis make love to his wife Alma, and then flip her over so he could...y'know...that kind of put me off him. It was the look of anticipated physical pain on Alma's face that did it.

But by the time those two had spent twenty years going on fake "fishing" trips together, repressing their emotions in that manly way and understandably adrift from their respective wives, I did feel sad for them. So much waste, of love and of time.

The boy even got a little wet around the eyes (actually I was surprised he sat and watched it with me in the first place!), and that's got to say something.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

No, your honour, she wasn't in a fist fight

Just before I came out of the bathroom I heard a loud thump which had me thinking that The Little Madam had somehow managed to climb onto the couch and fallen off it.

But the boy was sitting on the couch, so that wasn't it. What it was, was that TLM had spontaneously decided to give yoga a try, and failed to keep the pose for the recommended two minutes.

That's right - our bum-shuffler, who is only ever gets on her hands and knees when she's moving from tummy-time position to sittin gup, was trying to crawl. Or maybe she really was attempting a downward-facing dog position.

Anyway, it ended with a nose-dive. Perhaps the trauma of having one's face unexpectedly, and harshly, meeting the kitchen floor is really tiring. But today, split lip and all, she actually went down for her morning nap (though the boy did have to resettle her).

Friday, October 20, 2006

Yellow crayon

The Little Madam's Aunty H gave her a set of crayons and a scrapbook for her first birthday, and ever since then I've tried to show her (TLM, that is) how to used them to draw. Invariably, she pops the crayon in her mouth instead and gives it a good chew before I yank it away again.

Yesterday though, she took the yellow crayon and made little sweeping motions across the page. True, she used the blunt end instead of the pointy end, but she made marks - real, visible marks. I was so pleased that I took that page and put it into her scrapbook so I can show it to her one day when she's a famous tattoo artist.

Then I had to wipe yellow waxy stuff off her teeth.

Anxiety sets in

I'm waiting to hear back from one in-home childcare (that's one person looking after up to 4 kids, in her own home) agency, hopefully with a list of potential care-givers for The Little Madam, and for a visit from another agency.

If the alignment of the planets is in my favour, then I'll find someone who'll take good care of TLM while I work part-time from next month. TLM being the ultra-cute kid that she is, I'm confident that whoever gets the job (if anyone does) will adore her.

But 2-3 weeks is not enough time for me to worry about things like:

- what if the caregiver turns out to be a child abuser? At least in a daycare centre there are multiple staff so you can't get away with mistreatment. TLM could get upset every morning and I'd think it's simply separation anxiety;

- what if TLM never settles in?; She might never nap because of the huge change of environment, and regress in her sleep habits.

- if I spend all my time either working or catching up with TLM, won't I have even less me-time than I do right now?

I suppose every parent who decides to put their kid into daycare must go through exactly this kind of angst, and they can probably blog about it a lot more eloquently too. So I'll just shut up now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Emergency babysitting

My old employer just rang and offered me my old job back on a temporary basis - November to February.

I reckon it would be really good for me to go back to my part-time job, and for The Little Madam to experience being looked after by people who like child-minding so much they'd make a career out of it. The boy is really supportive too (though I wonder if that just means he's keen on seeing me get off my bum and earn some money).

The major obstacle though, is finding childcare. I rang the place whose waiting list I've been on since I was seven months pregnant (almost a year and a half ago), and they aren't going to have any places until January at the very earliest. Needless to say, other childcare centres whom I didn't bother contacting until today, don't have any places until next year at the earliest either - and people on their respective waiting lists are ahead of me already.

Even if I had returned to work after 6 months as I had originally arranged with my old boss, TLM would not necessarily have a place to go once I was due to start work again.

Which leads to this question - how on earth do mothers synchronise their childcare with their return to work?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Usually when a telemarketer rings me up and asks whether I would like a home demo of some product or other, I just say no. But I've been thinking about installing a home ventilation system, heat pumps and/or underfloor insulation all winter, so yesterday I welcomed an HRV salesman into my home to give me his Irish-accented sales pitch.

I'm sure that handsome salespeople with charming accents and the good manners to ignore a 14-month-old with his shoes, are more likely to make an on-the-spot sale than the rest. But I tend not to buy anything (unless it's at a book, DVD or clothing sale) until I've mulled it over, compared it to several competitors, talked to my friends about it and tried to get a discount.

Consumer magazine might have advice on how to choose between the different ways of cleaning or heating the air in one's home, but I'm too lazy to go and look through the stacks of magazines.

I'd rather just ask you folks.

The climate here is mild, ranging from around 5 degrees Celsius in Winter to perhaps the late 20s in summer. My place is a draughty 2-3 bedroom cottage, only insulated in the ceiling. There's a little condensation on the windows in our bedroom in Winter and the hallway sometimes has a piebald look about it. Two rooms are heated by oil column heaters and the rest of the house is au naturel i.e. fridge-like in the Winter and oven-like in mid-summer. Oh, and we're considering moving house sometime.

So what do you reckon? Should we bother with heat pumps? Would a forced-air ventilation system make a noticeable difference to my asthma? Does under-floor insulation fix cold feet better than a boyfriend's warm tummy?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

This is your blog life

I'm going to do what lots of recording artists do when they haven't come up with anything new for a while - do a retrospective.

Except this isn't a best of blog post. To tell you the truth, I went through my archives and posts of notable quality are hard to find on this blog. So it's more of a selection of brain dumps which I might submit if I had to produce a This is your life for the blog.

Let's start with a library anecdote, since I once harboured ambitions of being a librarian (I even completed three Masters papers). Some of the world's strangest people hang out at public libraries.

Oh look - my very first meme...

When I started this blog I was still a keen-ish painter, although I've since become a slacker mum (albeit with neuroses). At one of my life drawing sessions I encountered an extraordinarily muscular female model. But this isn't her.

If you think that a five-foot-zero Asian woman driver ought not be in charge of a bus, then you aren't the only one. I had serious doubts about driving the library bus, even after I got my licence.

The library bus yield really blog-worthy material though, like the wrinkly not-so-secret admirer and the drunken yobbo who wouldn't get off the bus and let me drive to the next stop. Some customers were just downright lovely; one of the old-folks homes even supplied us with afternoon tea (just don't eat the biscuits).

Getting assaulted by a young African boy though, was not a highlight.

Then I got pregnant and had Baby (or here for the gory details), whom you now know as The Little Madam. From early on she proved herself to be a challenging sleeper. Mine was a never-ending struggle to find new and effective ways to put her to sleep. This didn't put me off thinking about possible siblings, but you'll be relieved to know that sanity has won over so far.

Do you know that after about five years together, the boy and I have only been on two holidays, not counting long weekends? BTLM (Before The Little Madam), we spent two weeks showing him the South Island, one highlight being the miraculously puke-free (at least, on my part) whale-watching at Kaikoura.

ATLM (After The Little Madam), we had a nearly-disastrous holiday in Fiji which was cut short due to the need for a good rest.

I've tried my hand at domestic goddess-hood, but I think the cooking gene must've skipped a generation. Despite the odd success , my goddess career is characterised by culinary disasters.

But it hasn't all been about life as a librarian-in-waiting or a first-time mum with an incredibly gorgeous, non-sleeping child. It's also been about the odd book , movie, or Buffy/Angel episode.

Short and Sweet Like Me
, this is your blog life.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Put yer finger in yer ear, in yer ear...

Luckily I'd made an appointment with The Little Madam's GP already. (I'd put in a claim with the travel insurance company because of our prematurely-ended holiday back in June you see, and needed the GP to fill out a medical certificate.)

I mentioned that TLM had had a rough night last night, and even though she didn't have a temperature, I asked if she could check her ears.

And guess what? Make Tea Not War and charlotte were right in their comments to my last post - TLM has an infection in her left ear.

Unlike some, I feel little compunction from the use of antibiotics - as long as it's being used to treat a bacterial infection, of course. So TLM received a squirt of antibiotics late this afternoon (as well as Pamol for the pain at bedtime) and hopefully she'll start feeling and sleeping better tonight.

Not that I actually wanted TLM to have an ear infection, but I was so relieved to know the source of her screams.

Fingers crossed for tonight.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

She screams

I don't know what's wrong with The Little Madam, but she's not having a good night. She woke up at 8.10pm, and hasn't gotten back to sleep yet - and it's nearly 10pm.

She screams, one of us goes in.
We pick her up and cuddle her and sing to her, she goes quiet - even starts snoring. We try to put her back in her cot, she resumes screaming.

We've been in about 8 times now, which is surely a record which hasn't been surpassed since the very early days when it routinely took 3 hours to settle her for the night.

We gave her Pamol, which usually works when she's teething or otherwise unconsolable, but it hasn't made any difference tonight. She hasn't got a temperature and she's pretty much over her cold.

It's kind of unusual for her to put up this much fuss at night and I don't know what to do.

Old and boring

No late-night partying for me, nor the anticipation of many shot-glasses of peach schnapps (ever since that evening I had one gin and tonic and spent the following hour in the toilet). Nope.

For my birthday, my mum gave me "lucky" money in a red packet, and The Little Madam has been her gorgeous self. The boy has either forgotten, or is waiting for the arrival of a secret shipment of something mostly useless but geeky and expensive. Or perhaps he has finally accepted that I'm a practical woman with simple tastes, and just want to be taken out to lunch in the weekend.

The radio is tuned to an easy-listening channel, and I'm not even bothered by the fact that I haven't heard a song yet which was recorded later than about 1990.

The haircut I got last Saturday is, despite my hairdresser's protests to the contrary, mumsy. It's short and low maintenance and you will never see it on a twenty-something.

On the other hand, it's not often that on the day of my birthday (being Spring) the weather doesn't resemble a backdrop to The Tempest.

So I'm thankful I can be comfortably boring on a warm and sunny day.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Another "What I've done" meme

Only because the lovely Neil invited me to...

Filled in with an x:

( ) Smoked a joint
( ) Done cocaine
(X) Been in love
( ) Had a threesome
(x) Been dumped
(x) Shoplifted
(X) Had feelings for someone who didn’t have them back
( ) Been arrested
(x) Made out with a stranger
(X) Gone on a blind date
( ) Had a crush on a teacher
(X) Been to Europe
(X) Been to Canada
(x) Been to Mexico
( ) Seen someone die
(x) Thrown up in a bar
( ) Met a celebrity (but I almost had lunch with Andy Serkis, except I didn't recognise him)
(X) Met someone from the internet in person
( ) Been moshing at a concert
( ) Gone backstage at a concert
(x) Lain outside in the grass and watched cloud shapes go by
( ) Made a snow angel
( ) Flown a kite
( ) Cheated while playing a game
(X) Been lonely
( ) Fallen asleep at work
( ) Fallen asleep at school
( ) Used a fake ID
() Been kicked out of a bar
(X) Felt an earthquake (well, duh - I live in New Zealand)
(x) Touched a snake (one of those huge python-y sized ones)
( ) Slept beneath the stars
(x) Been robbed (well, burgled - but not mugged)
(X) Won a contest (a karaoke contest, no less)
(X) Run a red light (only because it was 4am and I wasn't paying attention)
( ) Been suspended from school
( ) Had braces (and have the teeth to prove it)
(X) Felt like an outcast
( ) Eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night
( ) Had deja vu
( ) Totaled a car
( ) Stolen a car
(x) Hated the way you look (well, duh - I'm female)
( ) Witnessed a crime
() Been to a strip club
(X) Been to the opposite side of the world
(X) Swum in the ocean
(X) Felt like dying (during many of those occasions when I gave myself food-poisoning)
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Sung karaoke
() Paid for a meal with only coins
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t (many, many, many times)
() Made prank phone calls
() Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Been kissed under the mistletoe
() Had a bonfire on the beach
(x) Crashed a party
( ) Seen a tornado
(X) Had a wish come true
( ) Gone bungee jumping
() Screamed in public
( ) Told a complete stranger you loved them
(x) Had a one night stand
( ) Kissed a mirror
( ) Had a dream that you married someone
( ) Gotten your fingers stuck together with super glue
( ) Been a cheerleader
(x) Sat on a roof top
( ) Talked on the phone for more than 6 hours straight
(X) Stayed up all night (only once, when I was younger and had more stamina)
(X) Not taken a shower for three days (the worse part was the greasy hair)
( ) Made contact with a ghost while playing a Ouija board
( ) Had more than 30 pairs of shoes at a time
( ) Gone streaking
(X) Been skinny dipping
( ) Been pushed into a pool/lake with all your clothes on
(x) Had sex in a public or semi-public place
(x) Been kissed by a complete stranger
( ) Broken a bone
( ) Caught a butterfly
() Mooned/flashed someone
() Had someone moon/flash you
( ) Cheated on a test
(X) Forgotten someone’s name (I forget A LOT)
(X) Slept naked

Fourteen months old today

Today, exactly one day before I turn 42 (horrors!), The Little Madam turns 14 months old.

She isn't at all bothered by the prospect of getting older. She's too busy learning new ways of getting from a lying-down position to a sitting-up one. Her current favourite is to roll over onto her tummy, then push back with her arms unil she lands on her bum. She only practises this when 1) I'm trying to change her nappy, and 2) when I put her down for a sleep.

Right now, life with TLM feels mostly pretty easy - she still resists naps of course (she wouldn't be TLM if she didn't), but at night sleeps for around 11 hours. She smiles lots, is great at keeping herself entertained and is much less likely to cry when a well-meaning stranger tries to play with her.

Every day I try to take her out somewhere and show her something of the world. One day, the prospect of cruising the supermarket, visiting her Poh Poh or looking for books at the library will probably bore her to tantrums, but right now these are all exciting adventures.

At last I can honestly live the cliche say that it's great fun have a little 'un.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Yes, you CAN blame your tools.

The first time I made berry muffins, I managed to overcome the fact that my oven's thermostat has died and gone to oven heaven. They turned out perfectly and I was so excited I had to go visiting that very afternoon, just so I could show those muffins off.

The second time I made berry muffins was not quite so successful, and I blame the oven.

By the time I had semi-melted the margerine, unsuccessfully mixed it with the milk and egg-replacement, attempted to mix it all in a beaker with a stick blender, spilt it all over my clothes and the floor because I let go of it when I reached over to turn it off at the wall, put on a Wiggles DVD to prevent The Little Madam from engaging in an intimate investigation of this scrambled eggs-like plaything, changed into clean clothes and mopped the mess off the kitchen floor, the oven was probably hot enough to fire clay pots.

The muffins were still raw on the inside by the time they'd developed a brown, crispy surface. Although I fixed this by turning the oven off and leaving them in there for a further 15 minutes.

And yes, we still ate the muffins.

Here's the recipe - it's great if your oven doesn't outwit you:

Dairy-free, egg-free berry muffins
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
75g margarine, melted
½ cup sugar
1 cup rice milk
1 tsp Orgran egg replacement
1 tab water
1 cup frozen berries, chopped

Set the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
Add the sugar.
In a separate bowl, mix the melted margarine, milk, Orgran and water.
Add to the dry ingredients.
Mix gently.
Divide among 12 muffin pans (or 6 Texas muffin pans).
Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

At the risk of being flamed by breastfeeding mums everywhere...

I've just read another article about a fight between a retailer and a woman who tried to breastfeed on their premises. And despite the fact that I myself am a breastfeeding woman (though only just), my opinion on the matter probably doesn't match that of most others.

It's probably because I'm a teensy-weensy bit on the prudish side, because I was never comfortable with breastfeeding The Little Madam in public, myself. At our mum's group meetings, I never knew where to look when someone whipped out a boobie to give her little one his or her feed. TLM's feeds were usually timed so that I could get the job done before we left the house, or after we returned home (and I've just realised why I don't get out much).

Not that I'm against breastfeeding in public per se, rather that I'm keener on seeing more nice places where women can feed their babies when they aren't at home. If I've ever had to do the deed in an airport lounge or cafe, it's only because the only other options were to use the toilets or go home.

You could say that if I'm uncomfortable with it, then it's my problem. But then, it's obviously a problem with a significant number of people. And until the attitudes of enough people have adjusted, surely it's only being sensitive and thoughtful to try to avoid offend those who haven't yet reached that stage of enlightenment?

Friday, October 06, 2006

First words

The boy was the first to decide that when The Little Madam said "da da", she meant him. He was the one who told me that when she says "mumumumum", she means me and not the food in her mouth.

But yesterday I heard her say "shut" several times. At least I hope that's the word she's saying.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Same old same old...

I'm suffering from severe bloggers' block right now, so I'm just gonna list a few things below for the sake of having something to say:

The Little Madam is quite the roller these days. Every time we put her down for a nap, or attempt a tricky - i.e. pooey - nappy change, she's like a limbless Olympican going for a world record. This isn't the first time she's done any rolling, but it's the first time in a while. I'm sure it's a sign of some kind of developmental leap.

I'm having my second consecutive cold, and it looks like TLM is too. I keep wanting to wipe the snot from her upper lip, but the last thing I want is for her lip to get all red and raw from the over-eager application of wood pulp. Besides, don't kids like eating their own snot?

The boy is also sick. Which is not as bad as you'd think, because now that we have TLM he doesn't treat every cold as a near-death experience. It's actually nice to have his company when he'd normally be off computer-geeking for a living.

I used to be smug about having lost all my pregnancy weight within the first few months of TLM's birth, but since I've stopped most of her breastfeeds (now down to one per day, before her bedtime), all those extra cookie-and-cake calories have gone straight to my tummy. I've avoided it so far, but I think an cardio-exercise DVD for home workouts will soon be on my shopping list.

Still watching gilmore girls on DVD - the boy brought home seasons 3, 4 and 5 a week or so ago and I'm practically soaking in it most evenings.

Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The fluffy menagerie

I took this photo while waiting for The Little Madam to nap this morning. After fifteen minutes she started yelling, so I went in to find her with one leg sticking out of the collar of her sleeping bag, and the other hanging out of one armhole. She could grow up to be a gymnast...

It might be a girl thing, but TLM has a real fondness for soft toys. And the boy is a sucker for buying her whatever makes her hyperventilate with excitement.

From left to right are:
Pelican, Red Panda and Heffalump, Dragon (originally mine), Tigg, Koala and 'Enry (that's Cockney for Henry).

Monday, October 02, 2006


Thanks to the recent high-rotation in our house, of the Woody Guthrie's Songs to Grow On, I cannot get those songs out of my head. Particularly the one that goes "Put your finger in the air, in the air" (or is it "put your finger in yer ear, in yer ear"? When I lie in bed at night, if I don't fall asleep instantly my head becomes haunted by his cute ditties about going 'round and around in a circle, building a house for the baby-o and taking people for a ride in his car-car.

Our Baby Einstein DVDs get quite a bit of usage too - I put one on first thing in the morning to keep The Little Madam out of trouble while I shower, and another one at the end of the day so she'll not try to climb into the bath when I'm filling it with hot water.

But because we've played Baby Neptune so many times now, I can't hear Strauss's The Blue Danube without mentally inserting "Quack quack, quack quack" at appropriate points in the music (it accompanies a bathtub scene featuring syncronised-swimming rubber ducks - it's great).

Just as I was telling a couple of fellow parents I'd just met the other day, having a child sure has opened up a whole new world to me.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Technical difficulties

Ever since the boy moved in with me, I've had to live with his need for constant upgrades to our various electronic appliances. I'm sure it's a boy thing as well as a geek thing - if I were still single I'd still be using the same VCR I bought about 8 years ago (instead of a new-fangled DVD recorder) and the 17" television my mum loaned to me 10 years ago. I would've bought myself a PC eventually, but I probably wouldn't have upgraded to broadband without the boy's insistence. And I'm pretty darned sure I wouldn't have a 42" plasma television on my living room wall instead of a nice, block-mounted poster of Venice.

But now that I've gotten used to living in a high-tech house, it's all the more upsetting when the gadgets stop working properly.

Last week the boy came home with a new, improved router for our home computer network. Being a computer-whisperer (I tell him that when he fixes his staff's computer problems he should first bend towards the relevant hard drive and talk to it softly, just for effect), he confidently spent the three hours required to reconfigure all get the network connected up via this new router.

And he was really very upset when, less than 24 hours later, I told him that the laptop and the internet connection were no longer on speaking terms. Much cursing and general grumpiness ensued, including an implicit accusation that I did something to the laptop to cause this rift.

I don't know why, because I'm not a complete techno-cretin, but sometimes things stop working around me. VCRs stop recording as programmed, DVDs become "invalid" and home computer networks crash and burn. Maybe it's something to do with leylines, or bad feng shui. Or maybe there are electomagnetic hotspots on my body. Whatever it is, I can actually understand why the boy acts like I'm some sort of anti-Midas.

So now you know why I didn't get online until now, after the boy's gone to sleep, so I could use his computer.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I don't know why I bother

My mum is not only hard of hearing, but also has a memory even worse than mine.

It's a recipe for frustration, really. Whenever I try to tell her anything, I have to repeat it many, many times, each time more loudly. She'll hear me in the end, but forget it after five minutes.

I promise this will be my last grumble about my mum. At least for the rest of this week.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A day with my mum - an oven-roasted self

I just spent the whole day with my mum today, and it was hard - but not in the way I expected.

She's been staying with my brother, having just got out of hospital for an angioplasty; she's now on new meds and we didn't want her to be on her own while she's testing them out. To help out, I offered to entertain Mum during the day while he's at work (his family's away up the coast for a few days), then get her back to his place in time to cook him dinner.

Anyway, I was a bit nervous about spending all day with Mum, because she has a tendency to tell me how to run my life. Even a couple of hours with her could result in high blood pressure and an urgent wish for the boy to transfer to another country.

But it didn't happen that way.

Her critiques on my child-rearing, dress sense and housekeeping ability were minimal. What did bother me was that I ended up sweltering in oven-roasting temperatures all day because my mum is a human popsicle. She was snuggled up in three layers of polar fleece, and still wanting me to turn the heat up. I was stripped down to a (supportive) singlet and rolled-up jeans and still having one long, hot flush.

And of course, she warned me several times that I ought to put on a sweatshirt because it's cold out and she didn't want me to catch a chill.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Kinky boots

What a good film this was.

When it first came out at the cinemas, I wasn't particularly inspired by the reviews I read; it came across as a cross between The Full Monty and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. These are two great movies, but who wants to go see a movie which is as derivative as this one sounded?

But last night we were sitting in front of the telly with a copy of Kinky Boots in front of us, and nothing promising on the telly.

And it turned out to be way better than anticipated. In short, it's about a shoe factory up in the north of England which is in danger of going under due to competition from cheap imports. The young man who's inherited the factory from his dad goes to London in search of buyers, meets a black cross-dressing nightclub performer and comes up with the radical idea of diversifying into women's shoes for men i.e. sexy thigh-high boots for cross-dressers.

It's a feelgood movie, like Monty and Priscilla. It's got a fairly predictable plot, yet it's based on a true story and anyway that very predictability is part of what makes it such a happy movie.

Isn't it nice to watch a movie you thought would be rubbish, and find that it's genius?

Monday, September 25, 2006

The brushing of tiny teeth

Apparently you're supposed to brush your kids' teeth as soon as they start appearing, and this post in Blogging Baby tells you the recommended way to do so.

The Little Madam's teeth-cleaning procedure consists of chewing on the bristles of her little duck-decorated toothbrush, then chucking it overboard in favour of a little plastic cup which she uses to empty bathwater out onto the kitchen floor.

I've tried brushing her teeth for her. I've tried and tried and tried. But TLM just will not let me get the toothbrush anywhere near her mouth. It's much like how she reacts to the sight of a spoonful of food.

Hopefully TLM's brush-chewing action is enough to remove any food that might be stuck to those little incisors (of which there are now five), because even though milk teeth are going to fall out anyway, what kind of mother would I be to allow her daughter to grow black toothlets?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Group bug

It seems that all three of us have colds this weekend. This means that I have little energy and no patience, The Little Madam is whingy and has no appetite, and the boy is sh*t out of luck if he thought he was going to get a break this weekend.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In which I nearly kill the boy with my cooking

Now, I would be the first one to tell you that burgers and anything else made with minced up meat must be cooked thoroughly before eating. And yet I've been guilty of giving the boy a local version of Dehli-belly twice in the last couple of months.

The first time was with a couple of venison burgers. The one I cut into, to test for done-ness, was nice and brown inside. The one one my plate and the second one on the boy's plate had lovely pink interiors. Who knew that commercially processed burgers would need such variable cooking times? (I was fortunate enough to find out before I was halfway through my venison sandwich - the boy had been too hungry to notice.)

The second time was last night, when I decided to make hot dogs out of a packet of Kranskys I got from the supermarket. (There are some strange items in the sausage section at the supermarket these days - I saw some small, purple cocktail sausages with the words "purple cock" typed on the label. I kid you not.) I pan-fried those Kranskys till their respective skins split; surely that was a sign of cookedness? But the boy was apparently in and out of the loo all night (I didn't notice - the only thing that wakes me at night these days is the sound of a baby crying), and I was glad I'd only had one.

As I get older and grumpier, I have moments of insecurity in which I fear that the boy might go off me and leave for someone younger, more pert and better in the kitchen.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cheeky monkey

Just a quickie, before our crappy Internet service bumps me off again...a photo of our TLM in all her cheeky-monkey glory.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A moment of grumpiness

There's this saying that keeps cropping up - now that I read so much parenting stuff - about how you should spend plenty of time playing with your kids instead of trying to keep your house clean, because when they grow up they aren't going to look back and wish their parents had cleaned the house more.

To that I say rubbish rubbish rubbish.

I'm no Bree van der Kamp (I can't cook, don't keep my house spotless and don't care if TLM wears mis-matched clothes), but I do think it's important to keep to a minimum standard of cleanliness.

The reason people don't look back on their childhoods and wish they're parents had spent more time on the housework might be because they already died from a terrible bacterial infection caused by a dirty toilet.

The stalking shuffle

I haven't posted for a few days because I've been overcome with a nasty tummy bug, possibly that very same virus which felled The Little Madam a couple of weeks ago. Secretly I'd hoped it would lose me a couple of kilos over the weekend - it would have been fair compensation for all the vomiting, stomach cramps and other stuff you won't want to read about in detail - but the bug didn't hit me that hard. Either that, or I had so much excess fat on me that any illness-related weight loss was barely a drop in the ocean of fatness that is my post-pregnancy self.

But I do have an amusing little anecdote about TLM. It's even a short and sweet one...

The Little Madam's bum-shuffling is now a sort of crawl-shuffle; unless she's got something in her hands, she moves forwards by putting both hands down, then shuffling her legs up to her hands. So if you were nearby, you'd hear a distinct thud-shhh...thud-shh as she gets herself around the room.

TLM has also taken to following us into the bathroom. Unlike some parents who think it's a good idea to let their kids see what goes on in the grown-ups toilet, and aren't bothered by the whole lack-of-privacy thing, I prefer to keep the bathroom door closed when I go about my ablutions (especially if they're of the tummy-bug variety).

Now imagine you're me, sitting on the toilet and minding your own business. There's nothing going on in your head, for a change. Then you hear an ominous sound, the sound that goes like this...thud-shh...thud-shhh...thud-shh...which gets louder and louder until it's right outside the toilet door. You sigh in relief that the door is closed. Then it comes...bang! Bang! Bang! You remember that the door's closing mechanism is a little faulty, and sometimes it just opens when there's a strong draft or persistent 13-month-old.

And's only a matter of time before she's caught you with your pants down.

Friday, September 15, 2006

First music love

I tried to instill in The Little Madam a good taste in music. From the library we borrowed classic children's favourites from the Fifties and kid-friendly world music. From my own collection I frequently played Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the album (which I still prefer to Radio Sunnydale), Bach and a selection of lounge-y acid jazz (not trendy, I know, but it comes from a very partying time of my life). Next for TLM's musical education, was going to be some Chemical Brothers.

But all that could be for nothing, because what she really loves to hear is The Wiggles' CD, Big Red Car.

Oh, well.

The song about a dog who barks all night gets her giggling, as does Five Little Joeys (jumping on the bed). It's too cute to sneer at, really.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Baby toupees

The boy sent me the link to this site which sells baby toupees. I think they're for real, too.

If I get the urge to disguise The Little Madam as Donald Trump, Bob Marley, Samuel L Jackson or Li'l Kim, I'll know exactly where to go.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In praise of the boy

Last week the boy came home with a bunch of gorgeous mango-coloured tulips for me, for no reason.

Tonight the boy brought home a bunch of white roses, and it's still not my birthday.

After I jokingly told him that there is nothing sexier than the sight of one's life partner cooking dinner and putting the offspring to bed, he made me dinner and did naptime duty all weekend.

See, he's not just a pair of stunning high cheekbones and fantastic legs worthy of a drag queen, you know.