Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Excuses, excuses

I've heard it said that women who're up the duff gleefully use their constantly-changing body size as an excuse to go shopping for some cool preggy gear.

And one great side effect of following a wardrobe de-cluttering regime, is that afterwards you'll have lots of space you didn't have before - space for those new clothes you might need now that you've thrown away all those tapered jeans, massively shoulder-padded shirts, platform shoes and tube skirts.

But yesterday I discovered a new excuse for a shopathon.

If you sometimes take your child to the kind of playgroup which has access to a big sandpit, loads of freely-available finger paint but no bibs or washcloths, then you need to own outfits for getting mucky in. And if you don't have any, you'll need to buy some new outfits so you can wear what you have now, as mucky gear.

But I'm sure you have some tried-and-true excuses to share...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Playing away

It was a bit of a busy day today; TLM and I spent most of the morning visiting her childcare centre, and soon after we got home - with barely enough time to change into something less paint-spattered - I had to leave to go to work for the afternoon.

It's funny how TLM can behave quite unexpectedly sometimes. I was expecting her to spend the first hour at the centre clinging to my thighs with her tightly pinching fists, before feeling comfortable enough to explore this den of toddler-iniquity. But on arrival, she took one look at the playdough-covered table and didn't even bother to say "seeya later" (but since it was the first of 4 pre-enrolment visits, I was obliged to hang around and try to look useful).

My kid had such a ball; after the playdough was the jigsaw puzzles, the sticky transparent finger paint i.e. glue, the actual finger paint, the books, the steps (or the "beestup" as TLM refers to them) and the sandpit. The ease with which she mixed in with the other kids makes me confident that, when the day comes to actually leave her there for 3-4 hours so I can get my hair cut, swim, shop or nap, I won't have to worry that I'm doing a bad thing.

In the afternoon, the nanny came by and took her out to play with a couple of adoring young girls. So all in all, a great day for TLM.

I, though, am absolutely knackered. I got about four hours of sleep last night (though thankfully TLM slept in till 7am so it could have been three hours of sleep), didn't get a midday rest because I had to rush from childcare centre to work, and my trainee had to put up with hearing me talk with my mouth full because of course I didn't get a lunch break.

Which super villain are you?

Yep, still awake.

I haven't done one of these quizes for ages. This one was sent by my mate Desiree, a visit to whom is way overdue:

Your results:
You are Hulk

The Flash
Iron Man
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
You are a wanderer with
amazing strength.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Head explosion leading to sleepless nights

I'm having terrible trouble sleeping tonight (which is why I'm blogging at midnight), and I think it's because there's so much going on in my head right now.

There's the mere-est of possibilities that it's due to a Brain Gym overload - perhaps spending half an hour desperately trying to beat last night's score wasn't the most relaxing way to end my evening.

Or it might be because today The Little Madam took five - five! - unaided steps. We were in my mum's living room, encouraging her (TLM, not my mum, although she could do with some exercise too) to walk to and fro between us. First couple of rounds, I thought I saw her take one or two unaided steps, then three or four, before culminating in a massive five completely hands-free pitter-patters. TLM was pretty excited about it too; she giggled gleefully in a way that reminded me of that first time she let me hold her torso upright while she pumped her little legs up in down. I was really stoked of course; normally it's the boy who sees her milestones.

But that's not all. This being my last week, I've been training the lad who's been hired to replace me for the next couple of months and I keep thinking of things that I'd better not forget to tell him.

And that's not all either. TLM and I have our first visit to the childcare centre tomorrow. While I'll be with her for this visit (and probably the next two or three), it's still a reminder that her scheduled abandonment there is soon to start.

But wait, there's still more. My brother and sister-out-law are probably selling their house soon, and the boy and I have expressed interest in taking over as the new owners and inhabitants. Buying your first house is stressful enough. Thinking about trying to buy a new house and sell your old one at the same time is a nightmare.

It's all too much.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My brain in lycra

The boy must have started worrying about my brain's atrophy as much as I have. Last week, he asked whether, if he bought a Brain Gym game for his Nintendo DS console, I would play it. Normally, when given the opportunity to try out a new computer game, I would answer with something witheringly negative like "Only if the alternative is to handwash your Y-Fronts for eternity" (Wii tennis excepted).

But he particularly emphasised the Brain Gym's reputation for re-building wasted grey matter, and - because I'd quite like to have an intellect again - I said I would.

True, I did do poorly in one of the games because I didn't understand the question (third time lucky though). But I was hooked for that brief time between dinner and my bedtime, and I could almost feel myself getting smarter. Although part of that might have been wishful thinking.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I suppose it's really quite appropriate that The Little Madam's disposable nappies all have pictures of Winnie the Pooh on them, considering the amount of "pooh" that goes in them.

You're probably not that interested in TLM's bowel habits, but it's my blog and I'll write what I want to. Anyway...

Poo wouldn't normally be a topic I'd want to blog about, unless it were an unusual colour or came out looking like a cactus. But just twenty minutes ago, I made an unprecedented 4 nappy-changes in less than five minutes. Literally, no sooner had I fastened the tabs on the new nappy, when I'd notice the characteristic grunts that signalled another brown blob had made its escape into the outside world.

Only a couple of nights ago I'd watched a TV show about waste and recycling, in which the resident expert gave a big thumbs down to disposable nappies. It made me feel so guilt-ridden that I contemplated having another baby just so that we could buy reusable nappies and have a reason to feel virtuous.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


For two months, I carried around in my head the date and time of The Little Madam's next appointment with the pediatrician. During that time, I rang the out-patient's desk repeatedly in hope of getting the time changed to a more nap-friendly one, finally succeeding after about a dozen calls. During that time, I decided to forgo a visit to a live Bill Bryson reading because it was on the same day as TLM's appointment.

So how the heck did I manage to forget all about the appointment when the time came?

Monday, February 19, 2007


This morning we interviewed two candidates for the role I'm vacating. The fact that I was going to be taking part in the interview was a complete surprise to me; I'd thought I was only going to join in on brainstorming interview questions, then make my exit before the arrival of the first hopeful.

Because, if I'd known, I would have tried to rehearse.

I've been told (okay, mostly by people who are too polite to tell me my writing sucks) that my writing is fine. My public speaking, however, is in dire need of polishing. Apart from the spoonerisms and the tripping over of words, I just couldn't avoid babbling on and on and going off into tangents, instead of focusing on what my job actually entails.

I was much better when the second interviewee showed up. That's when I realised how much difference it can make, whether those on the panel are any good at asking questions.

I'm not certain, but it appears that the job might go to the bronzed, hazel-eyed young man who wouldn't look out of place on an American soapie.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

An a-ha moment

There's a great walking track at the end of my street, which leads to a well-touristed lookout point. I usually walk this track on my own, and in the summer I've often set out quite late in the day so that it's getting dark by the time I've turned around for the return journey. And I would often come across lone males loitering about off-track.

Being a woman, encountering lone male loiterers tends to detract from the pleasure in my hour of fresh air and exercise. But I was probably just being paranoid.

Perhaps that guy was jogging (because they always seem to be wearing skimpy shorts, even in winter) along and had paused to admire the abundant scenery. Perhaps, after the first one stopped, another guy running behind him glanced over, briefly agreed on the loveliness of the view over the town below, then ducked into the bushes for a wee. We all know how much men like to wee outdoors. The the first guy sees him out the corner of his eye and remembers, "Yeah, my bladder's kinda bursting full. I could do with a wee too." And he ducks into the bushes, forgetting that perhaps it might be a little more polite to find a different spot. And then, embarrassed, they see each other and leave.

Or maybe this hill is gay pick-up spot and I, resident of this street for almost longer than Keira Knightley has been alive, just didn't realise until my neighbour mentioned it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The latest visuals of Baddha-kona-asana Baby *

(Baddha-kona-asana Baby - it sounds like a Hindu pick-up line, doesn't it? It's what the yoga teacher called The Little Madam because of her favourite pose.)

I know the rellies over in the UK are probably itching for some new photos of The Little Madam, so here they are.

The top one is TLM gettin' cosy with an unidentified male companion (the boy is already on the alert in case his shotgun is required), and the lower one is of TLM at a beachside park, wearing her Thomas the Tank Engine cap and engrossed in filling her nappy with sand (don't ask).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lost plot

I've figured out why I find the show Lost so frustrating. It's because even though stuff keeps happening, nothing is ever resolved. The writers should take a leaf out of the Joss Whedon Book of Good TV Writing, and build in story arcs that begin and end with each season.

I don't know if it's a woman's thing or what, but I think closure is good.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day via the stomach

I had the problem I always have when it's time to get the boy a gift - I don't want to spend up large because I'm not bringing in a heck of a lot of bacon, and anyway he's probably only going to want computer peripherals anyway.

So I did what I always do. I put it off until it was too late to do anything really cool, like organise a geek-o-gram or surround his workstation with embarrassingly cute photos of me 'n' him 'n' The Little Madam.

This afternoon TLM and I went out for a walk to the shops and bought the boy a nice litte card. It's got a picture of a fluffy middle-aged couple and the words "Soul Mates" on the front, with the word "Forever" on the inside. That's probably the most touchy-feely I've ever gotten in my choice of Valentine's Day cards. Then I bought him a bottle of Chardonnay just to be sure.

The boy's Valentine's Day prezzies to me were actually presented yesterday - a sweet bunch of blog-pink roses, adorably too short for the one vase I possess, and a heart-shaped, berry-topped chocolate cake that looks solid enough to substitute for Elven bread during a long march to Mordor.

But, as the boy said, it's good for you because there's fruit on it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


During my frequent ruminations about the pros and cons of adding to the Short and Sweet family, I started to ponder about the meaning of the phrase, "surviving the first year". When The Little Madam turned one, I had technically "survived the first year".

But let's think about that one.

Sure, I survived in the literal sense; otherwise this would be a blog from hell (that's assuming only Christians go to heaven).

But how much of me survived? Of my brain cells, not many.

So what can I do to slow my mind's downward slide into moron-ity? How can I ensure the survival of what's left of my brain?

  • crossword puzzles - never been any good at 'em, unless they were the ones in the children's pages.
  • computer games - these and me have never mixed, and are even less likely to now that the grey matter is not as agile as it used to be.
  • blogging - in theory, writing is good for the brain because it gets both hemispheres working. But it's easily to blog mindlessly.
  • evening classes, in anything - that's in competition with sleeping, eating and telly-watching.
  • eating fish - if it involves food, there's a good chance I'll take it on. But I don't like tuna and eating fish and chips every night might just turn me into a pimplier and fatter smart person.
What do other people do to prevent their intellect's extinction?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Thank God

For days now I've been trying to work out how to migrate all my links and Bloglines blogroll to the new template, and every time I've ended up restoring to the old template because I couldn't make it happen.

You are now looking at, finally, the new look Short and Sweet Like Me, and you can thank this theology blogger.

I like this pink. I like it very much.

Playing away from home

It'll only be about three weeks, before my work contract finishes and our wonderful nanny moves on to full time study. She's so good at filling in a whole morning for The Little Madam, that TLM is sure to notice that suddenly her days are not as chockful of finger puppets as they used to be.

And this is why I've decided to enrol TLM into two mornings per week at a local childcare co-op. This way, she'll continue to get some of the stimulation of learning and playing with other adults and children, and I'll continue to have some guaranteed child-free time. The boy would prefer I got another part-time job, but really it wouldn't be easy finding a job and childcare for the same time, would it?

Although there is a slight niggle in the back of my mind that tells me it's slightly indulgent to pay someone to look after my daughter when I'm not even going to be working...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

road hogs

The last Inside New Zealand show was quite interesting. It was about 4-wheel-drives, or SUVs as North Americans refer to them (and what I'll refer to them as, because it's easier to type), and how they are a menace to society, their owners and to the environment.

I'm sure I 'm not the only one who hates SUVs. They take up road space and parking space, and their drivers have a reputation for driving dangerously and irresponsibly. But one of the interesting things shown up in the TV show was how easy it was to become corrupted by the feeling of greater power, ease of use and the ability to literally look down on other drivers.

They gave two non-SUV drivers each the chance to drive one for a day or two, kept an eye on their driving and asked them for feedback throughout. By the end of their time as SUV users, the single working mum was a total convert, though the guy had gone from thoroughly enjoying his exalted position to feeling a bit silly for having such a large vehicle for no good reason. Both drivers had started to display deplorable driving habits.

But knowing that you're more likely to kill another driver or pedestrian (or trike-riding family member) whilst driving an SUV than a normal vehicle, doesn't seem to be enough to put people off buying them, because for the most part they themselves are generally safer in an SUV than in a car.

So I reckon any strategy aimed at reducing SUV-caused road carnage has got to focus on the desire for self-protection rather than the relatively altruistic notion of wishing to do no harm to others.

Whaddya reckon?

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Change

After many weeks of inviting me to change over to the new Blogger, then telling me it wasn't possible after all, Blogger has finally allowed me to take the big step. It may mean that leaving comments will suddenly become more troublesome, but I hope that won't put you off leaving your mark on my posts.

Hell, I might even change the blog template to celebrate...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Love in a hot climate

I've gone back to using my desktop computer lately, because then the boy and I get to at least be in the same room together when we retire to our respective online pastimes.

But tonight my hard drive started beeping ominously at me. I know it wasn't anything I did, because the beeps started right after I'd downloaded the latest photos of The Little Madam - and that's all.

Once I was sure that the noise wasn't coming from a truck backing up outside the house, I quickly did what any IT Help Desk will tell you when you ring up with a computer problem. I turned the computer on and off again. It didn't work though, because the beeping came back.

So I went running to the boy, who is my own personal IT Help Desk. He reckoned it was overheating, maybe because its 27 degrees in here, maybe because it's an old hard drive and the fan isn't working any more.

It's at times like these that you're grateful for possessing a networked laptop, eh? Unfortunately, the photos are all on the beeping computer so I can't post the cute pictures of The Little Madam surrounded by a dozen soft toys in the big leather recliner; the Little Madam practising her Mexican wave; and The Little Madam sitting in her toybox, having tossed all the actual toys onto the floor.

The Little Madam, by the way, is still hot. I've been trying to get a urine sample to take to the lab, but it's not easy sticking a plastic bag onto a wriggly, toilet-untrained child who has an inconvenient tendency to poo when she's got a plastic bag stuck to her privates.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Friendly reminders

Despite all the advice to do pelvic floor exercises, from pregnancy books and antenatal classes, I find that the only time I do them is when I'm reading a magazine and come across an ad for incontinence pads.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The month was sultry...

At the risk of sounding like one of those annoying people who always find something to complain about, I'm going to...complain. About the weather.

December was such a total disappointment in terms of weather, because even though it was supposed to be high summer by then the actual conditions were depressingly similar to those of mid-winter.

But January couldn't have been more different. Going from December to January was akin to leaving mid-winter Wellington on a jet plane (temperatures in the single digits and a bracing galeforce southerly for extra chill) and landing in the Aussie outback (30-something degrees C in the shade) a few hours later. It's been a shock to the system and I still haven't gotten over it.

As I did a lazy shuffle down to the pharmacy (for some Nurofen for The Little Madam), this afternoon, be-hatted, sun-glassed and a little sweaty, I wondered whether the hot days are hotter that they used to be or whether I'm just getting too old to tolerate the temperature extremes.

I suppose the answer, really, is less clothing and more swims.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hot and cold

On the verge of starting her first swim classes for 2007, The Little Madam is sick again.

It started yesterday afternoon, after refusing to eat lunch, waking really early from her nap and displaying a surprising disinterest in the fluffy fauna at the Picnic with the Animals day.

First she was subdued, then she was irritated. Then she was hot and dry with a body temperature of over 40 degrees Celsius. Numerous cool sponge baths and a dose of Pamol later, she was cool enough to put to bed for the night. The boy, poor soul, was up most of it checking on her and resettling her, even holding a cold can of beer against her body while she sat on his lap watching World of Warcraft characters hunt each other down.

TLM seemed to make a miraculous recovery today, but by evening she was one hot potato.

It's possible that this is a side effect of the MMR (Measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination she received just over a week ago - the nurse did say that a proportion of kids will get a rash or fever within seven days of the jab. Or, TLM might have something else. I hope it isn't ursinia again because, apart from the horribleness of the infection itself, what kind of parents must we be to allow TLM to succumb to the same bacteria twice in less than two months?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The unthinkable

I didn't think it would be possible, and I really didn't want it to be true, but I have at last found a Buffy book which is mostly boring.

I recently ordered Michael Adams' Slayer Slang off Amazon, after literally years of humming and ha-ing over whether I wanted to get it, because I read a good review of it somewhere. Plus, I'm quite interested in linguistics on a layperson's level (Bill Bryson - really! - has written some great linguistics books).

Unfortunately, this book is as dry as a really effective nappy worn on a hot day.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Big balls

As you know, I'm on a mission to get back into shape, a mission which took on a new intensity after I saw a photo of myself in a swim suit.

So far I'm still doing a 35-minute fast walk home from work four days a week, which has done good things for my thigh muscles but less-than-impressive things for my office look (I wear my powder-blue walking sneakers with everything). If The Little Madam is still napping when I get home, I do my sit-ups, half push-ups and leg lifts before I even let myself near the fridge door (although today was a complete bust, because TLM decided to have a 40-min catnap and was already waiting for me to entertain her when I got home.)

And now I have an exercise ball. (Up until now, I've always known these giant rubber beach balls as Swiss balls. However, a Swiss friend of mine - who actually owns one of these things too - doesn't understand why everyone here refers to them as Swiss balls, whereas everyone in Switzerland just calls them exercise balls. So in deference to someone who ought to know, I've stopped calling them Swiss.)

Actually, I've had my exercise ball for about three weeks now, bought on TradeMe. Unfortunately for me, I didn't notice that it would be in a deflated state at time of sale, and I didn't have anything to pump it up with. It was just as well that my Swiss ball-owner (not Swiss-ball owner, mind!) had a little air-pump thingy that accompanied her ball. excuse to go visiting...

Did you know that, once an exercise ball is fully deflated there is a very good chance you won't be able to get it into your car (unless you drive a van, an SUV or a truck)?

When I carried my now fully inflated orb to my Toyota Echo I realised there was a real chance that I'd be carrying it back into my friend's house and pulling out the pin. There was an audible sigh of relief (as opposed to an audible sigh of a giant balloon leaking air) when, with only a small amount of grunting and pushing, I manoeuvred my object of hope into the back seat, next to my very curious toddler in her carseat.

By the way, I still haven't gotten around to using the darned thing. I think I bought too big a ball.