Sunday, April 30, 2006


It's definite; I hate my bank.

Last week I got a letter from the Fraud team at my bank saying that our credit cards may have been involved in some sort of nasty international credit card fraud, and could I please call them.

So I did.

The nice lady on the phone told me that because of the aforementioned fraud, they'd cancelled a couple of our credit card transactions and wanted our consent to have the cards themselves cancelled. She promised our replacement cards would be couriered in two days' time.

This was bad enough, because one of the transactions they cancelled was the boy's subscription to the online game, World of Warcraft. One evening he just couldn't get into the game, and spent the next couple of hours looking like someone who'd gone home to find someone had bulldozed his house.

The other transaction they cancelled was the payment for our passport applications.

And then...
the new credit cards didn't arrive. The courier didn't come by on the Friday, when he was expected. He didn't come on Saturday either. Without a credit card, this afternoon's Baby-free time was spending looking forlornly through the shop windows.

But wait - there's more.
On Saturday I received our latest credit card bill. I'd barely gotten over discovering that, if your minimum repayment is even one day past the due date, there's a $25 late fee. Hell, I thought the exhorbitant interest rate was a late fee. The next thing I discovered was that we were charged credit card cancellation fees.

That's right. Our credit cards were cancelled because the bank's security is shite, and we're being charged for the privilege.

Bank of New Zealand, I am not impressed.

Friday, April 28, 2006

She loves books, but she couldn't eat a whole one (or, Hey - this stuff tastes like cardboard!)

Baby does have quite an affinity with books. I always hoped that it meant she'd eventually become a regular library patron and devourer of books. But I didn't think she'd be devouring them literally.

It's the paper. When she hears me rustling the pages of a magazine or sees me turning them, she automatically reaches out with her sticky little hands to get a taste.

Baby will turn her nose up at a lovingly microwaved dish of steak and veges baby food, but give her a real estate agent's postcard to play with and in the ten minutes it takes to wash a few dishes at the sink, half of that postcard has disappeared down her gullet in a mash of saliva-soaked pulp.

I hope it all comes out in the poo.

A belated review of King Kong

Friends had given me the impression that this movie would seem too long, and possibly even a disappointment after Peter Jackson's previous masterpieces (LoTR, Heavenly Creatures, Braindead...). But I didn't find that at all.

Granted, we did watch King Kong over two evenings (this happens when sleep becomes more important than anything else) so that may have made a difference. But it didn't seem to me that any part of the film was over-long, boring or unnecessary. Even the dinosaur sequences were highly enjoyable, including the infamous enormous gorilla vs vicious dinosaurs fight scenes.

The inhabitants of Skull Island were impressively savage; they would have been utterly suitable as the Reavers in Serenity.

In the end, it really was Kong's eyes that made the movie, because without their expressiveness we wouldn't be able to relate to him as we did. As I said to the boy, what makes King Kong a better film than Jurassic Park is that it is so much more...human.

It's a little like Raiders of the Lost Ark in its Fifties tradition and danger-at-every-turn pace. It's a little like Gorillas in the Mist because you can't help but be on the side of the gorilla. It's a little like E.T. because all you really, really want is for him to be able to go home again.

So actually, it was a way better movie than I'd expected.

Water Baby

Yesterday Baby had her first water familiarisation lesson. I was going to knock up a fake photo of Baby floating on her tummy, but that would require more time than I have - she's already 40 minutes into her nap and my hard drive is making loose-cog noises so, time is of the essence and all that. Just revisit this image of surfin' Baby and imagine the rest.

The tiny class of three mums and three bubs started at 11am on the dot - just when Baby produced a big yawn signalling that it's already been two hours since she last woke and therefore time for another nap struggle. Too bad, Baby - you have a class to attend.

With pull-up swimming nappies on, Baby seemed quite at home at the Children's Pool. the room was lovely and warm, the water was at bath temperature and there was plenty for her to look at - how fascinating the ceiling lights must've been.

The European-sounding instructor lead us through little songs, floating Baby on her back and playing fetch with rubber duckies and balls. Then Baby was floated on her tummy through a tunnel and under a waterfall (water from a garden sprinkler), occasionally dipping her head just enough to get a mouthful of water (oops).

One thing she wouldn't do though, was kick. There was nothing we could do to make her little legs go up and down in the water; asking her nicely didn't work, nor did manually moving her legs. Perhaps she could tell there was no need, since mummy was doing all the work for her.

The class was over within half an hour, but after half an hour of crouching on my dodgy knees in the shallow pool and holding a slippery (though perfect) baby body with my dodgy hands, followed by half an hour of getting both of us showered, dried and dressed - I was knackered. I was glad I'd taken the car.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

So I won't be selling off the buggy any time soon

Whilst waiting for Baby's nap-resistence to peter out this morning, I was browsing through Robin Barker's Baby Love. According to her, bum-shufflers tend to be late in learning to stand and walk. That means Baby won't be bipedal until around 18 months.

Not that I'm worried about it (although it does mean that my favoured childcare centre won't be accepting her for a lot longer than I'd anticipated; maybe it's just as well that I recently officially quit my job). In fact, it may mean that we have tons more time in which to baby-proof the house.

We still have all our CDs in floor-standing CD towers, breakable ornaments within easy ankle-biter reach and easy access for little fingers (and whatever they're holding) into the VCR and DVD player.

Fortunately, we can thank the boy's forward thinking that the plasma TV is quite safe.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Not so much domestic goddess as Cinderella (sans fairy godmother)

You may have noticed a dearth of fabulous recipes lately on this blog. You see, after the initial enthusiasm, I've fallen into a cooking rut.

With Baby's naps becoming a scarce commodity, the last thing I want to do during her sleeps is to plan dinner, when I'd much rather spend that 20-45 minutes either blogging or snoozing. What hasn't helped is discovering that, of all the dishes I've tried, the boy's favourite is fish fillet, baked from frozen, in between two slices of white bread and garnished with a slice of raw tomato. It's hardly inspirational.

Today's big housewifely task was possibly the least fun thing I could have chosen to do on a sunny Saturday afternoon - oven cleaning. It had to be done though, and it had to be done with Baby out of the house and at a safe distance from those nasty, toxic oven-cleaning fumes. So I had to do it while she and daddy were out feeding the ducks at the Botanic Gardens.

Considering that our oven hasn't been cleaned long has Baby been alive?...eight months ago, the stuff really works. I sprayed it on (choking and trying to breathe through a paper towel), left it for about half an hour and - voila! - the grime just wiped off; that corner of the kitchen is no longer a potential feature for the How Clean Is Your House TV crew.

But, phew - it's just the dirtiest job ever. I think I must've rinsed the sponge out a couple of dozen times before the water stopped running black and sooty. I was so mucky, sweaty and air-polluted that afterwards I had to do time under a hot shower, followed up with a nice lie-down and a bowl of feijoa ice cream.

Friday, April 21, 2006

But I'm not that evil

According to this site, mentioned by Rullsenberg, I'm...


54% amorality, 54% passion, 72% spirituality, 27% selflessness
You probably have a complicated, multi-faceted personality. Kind of like Glory-Ben-Glorificus.

Passionate and driven with a spiritual side that comes out at times, a healthy taste for the finer things in life and a willingness to do what's necessary to achieve your ends. You're assertive and have no problems standing up for yourself. And, push come to shove, you're the closest anyone's ever come to straight-up beating the Slayer and her gang.

p.s. I told the boy about this test, and he was a little suspicious about me visiting a dating site.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

So what do you do all day?

Let's suppose that my day started at 12.01 am...

3am - Baby cries out from her room, and this time she doesn't quieten down again after a few minutes. I go and feed her from the right boob. Usually when she feeds in the middle of the night, she falls asleep on the job; not this time. I return to bed anyway and leave the monitor off.

3.30-ish am
- I toss and turn, unable to go back to sleep. I turn the monitor on and hear that she's still exercising her vocal chords.

- Now she's crying, so I traipse back to her room and give her another feed, this time from the left. As I sit her up to burp her I notice how heavy her head feels against my hand. Yay, she's asleep. Then I get to fall asleep.

6 am - It's the boy's turn to do the "morning shift". Unfortunately, he's got to leave for work early so I get up at 8, still groggy from the struggle to surface from my dream.

8 am till 9 am - Baby sits on floor with her toys, all bright-eyed and happy, while I shuffle about in my dressing gown, snuffling and squinting. All I need is a fag and a hairnet, and the image of a sloven is complete. Then I take a really quick shower, quick because I need to check back that she hasn't done a face plant on one of the wooden rattles.

9am till 10am - It's nap time. Baby screams all the way through my renditions of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Daisy, Daisy, Twinkle Twinkle and Rock-a-bye Baby. As soon as she pauses to take a breath, I put her down into her cot and sprint out of the room. Eventually Baby's fury lessens and is replaced by sweet slumber. 20 minutes later she's awake and mad at me again.

10 am till 12 pm
- I do the laundry and hang out the washing, while Baby plays in her Jolly Jumper. It's the only place I can put her where she'll not whine for at least half an hour. For lunch, Baby tries the Watties Pasta and Vegetables and Beef, followed by pear puree and cereal. She eats the lot, then I give her the spoon to play with. One day she'll put the spoon end in her mouth instead of the handle.

12 pm till 12.40 pm - Baby looks ready for another nap, so we go through the same head-splitting procedure from earlier. This time she's really going for it. I try to distract myself by going on the 'Net, but I can't relax until she goes to sleep. Boy arrives home for a brief visit, can't handle the sound of her tormented shrieking (How dare mummy put me in bed?!) and brings her out. I give her a breastfeed, but she's distracted because Daddy's home.

1 pm till 2 pm - Baby is all smiles again. She has had fun with super-fun play-Daddy and is busily spreading hot cross bun crumbs all over the rug.

2 pm till 3.30 pm
- I have some errands to run, so we're off in the buggy. I send of our passport applications, get a baby food recipe book from the library and pick up a bunch of photo prints from the chemist. By now, Baby has fallen asleep. I mentally do a dance of triumph and wheel her about a little more before heading home. My blood pressure is now back to normal. Then she wakes up and bursts into tears - hungry. She breastfeeds for the second time in two hours.

3.30 pm till 5 pm - I try to read Superheoes and Philosophy, which arrived in the mail yesterday. But I find intellectual challenges too...challenging. Forget about my body, I want my brain cells back.

While I'm out bringing in the washing, Baby starts crying. I can't see what's wrong, but she won't quiet down. so I pick her up, take her outside and try to continue taking clothes off the line with one hand. I find that Baby fits nicely into the laundry basket.

5 pm till 6.15 pm - Baby has dinner; cauliflower, broccoli and apple, mixed with cereal. She wolfs it down and seems disappointed that I'm not offering pear and banana for dessert.

The boy comes home early, obviously because he saw how stressed I was at midday. During nappy-free time, Baby bursts into tears again, this time because a chain of small-but-perfectly-formed poos is making its way out of her bum.

But then its bath time, last-feed time, song time and finally, bed time. The boy does a sterling job of settling Baby so that she's asleep in her cot very quickly. The evening is ours. The boy makes amorous overtures. I ring for pizza.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Old Boy

Baby seems to have completely gotten over yesterday's little fall off the sofa. Her afternoon wasn't so enjoyable though; it seems that her teeth are giving her trouble again. So we gave her a dose of Pamol before popping her off to bed and putting the latest DVD on...

Old Boy is the other DVD I brought home last Friday, along with Kung Fu Hustle. Like the latter, Old Boy has been compared to Kill Bill. However, it seemed to me to be utterly different.

The base storyline was intriguing; a man is kidnapped and imprisoned in a non-descript hotel room for fifteen years, in isolation and not knowing why he's there. From the TV news he discovers that his wife has been murdered and he has been implicated. Then, he's suddenly released and supplied with a wallet full of money and a mobile phone. So he's got two aims: 1) find out who's responsible and ask him why, and 2) kill the bastard. Along the way he falls in love with a mysterious young woman he meets in a sushi restaurant who may or may not be involved in his incarceration.

First of all, if you're not into Tarantino-style violence then avoid it like a plague of Stars Wars prequels.

Secondly, if you've ever seen that Michael Douglas movie The Game, then you'll have an idea of the amount of convoluted manipulation going on in this story.

Thirdly, this movie has no sense of humour - it's all very, very dark and unsavoury.

Fourthly, I wonder why non-Hollywood sex scenes are so much more realistic (and hence, unattractive) than their Hollywood counterparts.

Old Boy
was highly watchable, but it had that big yuck factor which I got while watching Anthony Hopkins' Titus (which, incidentally, I thought was a great film).

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A bum-shuffle too far

They always say that the minute you leave your bubs on the couch unattended is when she chooses to roll off it.

In our case, today Baby chose to bum-shuffle off our couch in the few seconds I was away from her side. I remember that as I eased my feet into my shoes in preparation for our afternoon walkies, I thought that I'd better hurry back because this time I'd neglected to strategically place cushions between her and the edge of the couch. That thought was interrupted by a loud whump as the fruit of my loins and the apple of my eye landed supinely on the floor.

There were loud screams of surprise and hurt, but she perked up after the boy distracted her with a few baby-swings. The back of her head was a little flat, but no more so than it'd been yesterday.

I wonder how many screw-ups one is allowed before her mum is black-marked as a bad parent?

*Yes, I know that you aren't supposed to leave a baby on a couch unattended - and trust me, I'm not going to do it again until she's old enough to get off it safely.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Kung Fu Hustle

What a hodge-podge of styles this movie is. It takes the Hong Kong tradition of martial arts mysticism, slapstick (also in the tradition of Hong Kong martial arts movies), Airplane humour, Loony Toons silliness, Matrix slo-mo fighting and even West Side Story gangster moves, all with an extra large topping of cheese.

The pre-Communist Chinese village of Pig Sty harbours several secret kung fu masters, all of whom are targeted for assassination by the ruthless, black-suited Axe Gang (to those of you who think Asians all look alike, you'll get a flashback to the plague of Agent Smiths in the third Matrix movie). The village's landlady specialises in the Lion Roar, a scream which not only shatters glass but can also repel demon swordsmen (and what a refreshing change from the literal femme fatale she is - she's overweight, middle-aged and has a cigarette perpetually dangling from her mouth. Zhang Ziyi she is not). Her husband does kung fu in his sleep; sort of an homage to Jackie Chan's Drunken Master movies I'd say.

Okay, so there is actually a bit of real, nasty violence, but mostly it's highly stylised. And in the end the good guys win, the lost souls find direction and the hero gets the girl.

It was great fun.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Pear and banana...yum...

She doesn't eat much unless there's a ton of fruit in the mix.

But she does like having her photo taken.

Not-so-bad Friday

It struck me this morning, over my lovely neighbour's homemade hot cross buns (she'd even made a pagan version for the boy), that Good Friday seems to be a bit of a misnomer. If today marks the day that Hey-Zeuss (or Jay-zuzz, for non-Spanish speakers) died, then shouldn't we be thinking of it as Bad Friday, Black Friday, Unfortunate Friday or similar? If there's a day during Easter which is "Good", then shouldn't it be Monday, when the aforementioned Messiah was resurrected?

I put this question to the boy, thinking it would lead to an interesting discussion. However the boy, who is either a font of all knowledge or just very good at hiding ignorance, had a ready answer.

Apparently, in pre-Christian Western culture, today marks the day when all the Spring sowing has been completed and hard-working farming folk celebrate by chowing down on all the food stored from the previous harvest. So in a sense, their Good Friday was good for the same reason that every Friday is good if you are a 9-5 office worker.

It all makes so much sense...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's not a contest

I can't help it. Whenever I meet up with the other mums at the two coffee groups I attend, it's impossible not to compare their babes with mine. Usually I notice how all the other 8-month-olds are already crawling and standing, or that no-one else looks as haggard from lack of night time sleep. It's entirely possible that Baby is miles ahead of ninety percent of her age group in braininess, but that sort of thing isn't exactly obvious to the naked eye is it?

On this sunny afternoon Baby and I went for a walk through the Botanic Gardens with a friend and her 4-month-old boy. I was already anticipating that at least some of our talk would be about how her boy has started to sleep long stretches from 8pm till 2am, and had mentally rehearsed how I would tell her to shut up already. Fortunately, my friend was kind enough - and perceptive enough - to avoid the subject of sleep, except to assure me that he isn't napping much during the day either.

The advice which experts give us is always that we shouldn't compare our children to others', because "every baby is different" (and if I hear a Plunket nurse utter that phrase one more time I'm going to throw a hissy fit). But isn't that how we work out whether we are normal? By comparing ourselves and our own to the rest of the population?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The movie was better than the book

The boy brought home Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last week, and I must say it's a big improvement on the book. It's got all the main plot bits and none of the boring padding in-between. The stand-off with Voldmort, at the cemetary, was good and scary. The only gripe I have, and this extends to all the Harry Potter movies, is that Hermione is far too pretty. In the book it's a really big deal that she turns up to the ball with straight teeth, no glasses and tamed hair, thanks to a glamour. In the movie all she has to do is wear a slinky dress and put on some makeup.

The Lord of the Rings movies, in the boy's opinion, are also much better than the books. I'd be inclined to agree, except when I tried to read the books I was never able to find Fellowship of the Ring at the library. Starting this story with The Two Towers was every bit as confusing as you'd expect.

What are some other movies which turned out to be better than the books they were based on?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Grumpy mum

Today I went to my third weekly Mothers Network meeting, in which the participants leave their babies with babysitters and spend the next two hours discussing topics relating to motherhood.

As keen as I was to get together with other mothers, especially first-timers, I don't feel much as though I'm bonding with the others.

I think I'm the only person in our group of eleven who didn't gush about being totally, utterly in love with their kid. I am the only person who said out loud that one reason that our expectations of motherhood are so different from reality is that if we truly knew what it was going to be like we'd be using double-thickness condoms for the rest of our lives. I did mean it half-jokingly of course.

I also noticed that occasionally someone would mention having suffered terribly in the course of trying to breastfeed their child, or being on the verge of post-natal depression, or the terribe disappointment at the amount of intervention at their child's birth, or being so tired that it was too much effort even to reach out for a glass of water. And yet these difficulties were only mentioned in passing, as though these women's overwhelming joy in their children was so huge that the negative aspects were rendered insignificant.

Which made me realise that I haven't actually had it all that bad: Baby's birth, though a little traumatic, was drug-free and mostly natural; my baby has defied her family history of allergies and skin problems, in displaying healthy, gorgeous skin; I didn't have too much problem in breastfeeding (there was that bout of mastitis, not to mention nipple damage - but we won't go there); although I'm often tired, I still have energy to go for daily walks and the time to blog; and while Baby's little feeding and sleeping foibles frustrate my attempts to feel in control, I'm certainly not what you'd call depressed (possibly thanks to regular doses of chocolate and full-fat ice cream).

I guess I'm just a grumpy mum who could do with a kick in the pants and some positive thinking.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

It's ancestor worship time again

My mum rang up yesterday afternoon, just as I was getting Baby and myself ready for a last-ditch-attempt-at-afternoon-nap buggy ride into town and back. She was hoping we'd be free to go visit my dad.

It's pretty hard to get the whole family together for a trip to the cemetary, because it has to be scheduled in with my almost-2-year-old niece's long afternoon nap, Baby's erratic feeding and napping timetable, my brother's workload, my sister-out-law's need for family time and the boy's need to sleep like a dead thing on weekend mornings.

I put her off the idea of doing it that afternoon; as far as I was concerned it was way more important to a) put Baby to sleep, b) get out of the house while it was still sunny and c) buy a blender so I can stop trying to make pea puree with a sieve and a wooden spoon. So I promised we'd be available the next morning.

We weren't to know that the following day would bring heavy rain and dark clouds; my mum is superstitious enough that she won't go near a graveyard unless it's bright daylight, warm and calm.

So once more this weekend, our afternoon highlight was listening to Baby gurgling, shrieking, squealing and occasionally protesting, during her afternoon nap time. A couple of hours later we acknowledged Baby's superior stamina, and the boy has taken her out for a drive to see the ducks at the Botanic Gardens.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Eight months

On Tuesday Baby will be 8 months old.

She still isn't crawling or standing, but she does this little bum shuffle which could get her across the room in...oh...about a week.

She seems to have completely forgotten her sleep training. I suppose teething and getting your first ever cold would do that. These days she'll take a nap at 7am (having gotten up at 6am) and that's it until someone takes her for a walk (in the backpack, buggy or car) some time in the afternoon.

Her size 0 clothes are too long, but the size 00 stretch'n'grows are too short.

She can drink from a sippy cup, but she'd rather just play with it. Everything she touches gets soaked or covered in spit.

She'll eat most things if there is plenty of fruit mixed with it, but avocado and parsnip still make her gag. Courgette and broccoli are the two vegetables she eats willingly.

She can stay up all morning when she's with the babysitter and not grizzle. But if I keep her up past her bedtime she screams the house down.

She's started turning her head sideways to look at things.

It's when she's got her fingers entwined in my hair that I realise how strong her grip is.

She sit up in her bath and watches the water swirls. I'm going shopping for a rubber ducky.

And next? Swimming lessons in about three weeks.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"You two gotta be sisters!"

The above phrase is one that I will never expect to be uttered in reference to Baby and me, such is our age gap. This was brought home to me today when we went to the pharmacy to get our passport photos taken.

This is Baby's passport photo:

And this is mine:

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Is Daddy a better Mummy than Mummy is?

The boy is really excelling these days; every other morning he gets up at 6am to look after a very awake Baby, allowing me to sleep in for a couple of hours until he leaves for work. He really is a super-fun play-Dad too. He watches Baby Einstein with her, swings her around in his arms, throws her up and down, gives her breakfast and puts her to bed for her morning nap.

It's all a sharp contrast to when it's my turn. There's a little play, but I tend to leave Baby to play on her own a whole lot more while I do the dishes and the laundry, make and eat breakfast and think about what I want to do for the rest of the day.

Nap are different too - these days, the boy is much more successful with getting Baby down for a nap. Most mornings I put her down after the usual wind-down, then wait up to an hour before bringing her out again because she's stayed awake all this time. This morning with her Dad, she napped for over an hour!

I can't play with her as much during her bathtimes, since it still hurts my hands to hold her slippery little body in the water. Before daylight saving ended, Play-Dad always did bathtimes and could swish her around and make her giggle.

And he's better at settling Baby at night too. Whenever I try to settle her without feeding her, she just cries harder.

I'm thinking that when the time comes that Baby no longer wants boobie, I'm going to feel more than a little redundant.

The latest WBD (Weapons of Baby Drowsiness)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

In the flesh

This is how my name looks in the flesh, and it's much classier than you'd expect.

Sent to me by Baby's "auntie" Helen, knitter of anarchic cardigans.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


My old Honda Civic, listed on TradeMe, generated a fair bit of interest - mostly because I listed the reserve at a giveaway $350. The winning bid of $725 came from a guy in Taupo. He got a lift into town two days later and handed over a thick wad of cash and a change of ownership receipt, before starting up the car and heading back on his 4-5 hour journey home.

So that's one more parking space on the streets outside my house, and one less insurance premium to pay.

Just for a bit of a lark, I also listed my collection of 18 NetGuide magazine back issues. Hoping for bargain-hungry punters, the reserve was set at a lowly $1. They sold alright, but to the first and only bidder. For $1. Once I've paid my seller's fee I'm left with about 50 cents. That's hardly worth the effort of packaging them up and sending out to the buyer, even if I don't have to pay for the postage.

I know now that there is very little chance of ever getting rich selling stuff online.

Oh yeah, and I just found out that my new car is missing a hub cap. The Echo's been in my possession for less than a month and already it's shedding bits.