Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cabin fever

Being a stay-at-home mum isn't that bad, as long as you don't actually have to stay at home the whole time. Over summer I'd gotten into the routine of taking TLM out each morning - to the park, the beach, the library, community playgroup or whatever - and often our afternoons were filled with playdates (thinly disguised social calls to friends with kids), more visits to the park etc.

But all that stops when the family's invaded by a seemingly endless succession of viral and bacterial infections. For two whole weeks now, TLM and I have had to rely on our small collection of toys, water play at the kitchen sink, our books and DVDs. In fact, I've gotten a bit slack with controlling the amount of DVD-watching she's getting; if TLM starts talking to Dorothy the Dinosaur in her sleep, I'll have no-one but myself to blame.

But I try to be optimistic. Every time the sick person (whether it's me, the boy or TLM) gets better, a small pinprick of hope tells me that we might be lucky enough to enjoy a week of respite before the next bug hits. And in that time, we are no longer social lepers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

wall-to-wall germs

I have to say it's not been a healthy winter so far, and it's still only June! I've been plagued by serial cellutuses (or is that cellulitae?), a gastric bug and then a cold; fortunately the boy remained well enough to play nursie until I got better. And then he got the gastric bug (only for longer than me) and the cold (apparently also much worse than mine). In between those times of grown-up un-wellness, TLM had both of the above as well as an assortment of mystery fevers and whatnot.

And that's why, having missed over half of TLM's swimming classes this term due to sickness, I've decided not to bother enrolling her for next term. It's at times like these when I realise that, since TLM started going to daycare for 2 mornings per week, we've effectively been paying money to keep her at home. At the rate she's going TLM's immune system is going to be indestructible by the time she starts school.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Ta da! I give you the second of my abstract paintings. Basically, it's what you get when you cross a geometry-for-babies DVD with BauHaus-era Kandinsky (I know, I've got a way to go) and an admiration for Shane Cotton's colour palette.

The idea behind the title is that I wanted it to look like a group of children holding hands before launching into a folk dancing lesson.

The photo's at a strange angle 'cos I got the boy to hold it up, out of TLM's reach. Plus, I don't have Photoshop loaded.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What I've been watching and reading

Despite being unable to avoid making a face every time the words "Oceans" and "13" came up, we did go to see the film. That itself was unavoidable really, because it was the film being screened for TLM's childcare centre's movie night fundraiser. And I was the one in charge (though only through default) of organising the whole thing.

But even though I would still much, much rather have waited to see Shrek the Third or the latest Harry Potter, I did end up enjoying Oceans 13. It probably helped that Julia Roberts wasn't in it. Actually, I think it helped a lot. By the way, has anyone else noticed how flabby Brad Pitt's face has become?

Also, the boy and I went on a bit of a book-buying bender yesterday afternoon, at the new Borders shop. The shop is so massive I'm surprised there aren't giant television screens in there that take up whole walls, playing nothing but hip-hop Borders ads. The boy joyfully selected several graphic novels and fantasy novels, the girl - I mean, TLM - emotionally blackmailed us to buy her a Thomas and Friends book, and I picked up a couple of Kelley Armstrong books. Of the latter, I've just started reading Haunted.

I do like Armstrong's books. Reading her stories of renegade witches and evil corporate sorcerers, reminds me of how I felt when I first discovered Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books - great female characters who had tons of power and didn't have to put up with brass brassieres. (Although last time a reread one I changed my opinion).

Oh, and the boy and I are really, really enjoying series one of Life on Mars. The purely cop show bits are a little predictable, but much of the fun is in the difficulty that the post-millenium Sam Tyler has in trying to fit in with Seventies-style policing practices.

One last thing. Does anyone have any more story-writing challenges for me? Nothing too difficult, though - 300 hundred words seems to be about my word limit, and it has to be okay if it morphs into an anecdote about clothes and shopping.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In recuperation

It's a total coincidence that it happened so soon after our lovely dinner on Friday night - the panting, the sweating, the - I'm not talking about sex, silly!

I'm talking about being horribly, wanting-to-die-and-get-it-over-with gut-emptyingly sick. The kind of sick that stand-up comedians can't talk about without also mentioning diced carrots. The kind of sick that, when you see it in the movies, always has the unlucky vomiter hugging the toilet bowl as though it were her new best friend (but in real life the toilet bowl hasn't been cleaned for a month so you'd never actually touch it).

It happened on Sunday night, more than 24 hours after our meal out. And it just happened to be about 48 hours after TLM woke up in the night, with a thick layer of puke all over her hair, sleeping bag and nanna quilt.

So I reckoned it was a virus. Funnily enough, TLM was over hers by the morning after, whereas my bout with the retched (sic) bug left me week and literally bedridden for an entire day. Fortunately for me, the boy had taken a few days off this weak to give me extra time off. But I don't think he'd been expecting anything more than a couple of hours of light TLM-play each day...

Thankfully, I'm much better today. I even chanced having a bit of toast this morning, with Flora and jam on it too. And coffee. I got to keep it too.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

In which I show myself to be an utter piggy wiggy

To celebrate the boy's birthday, we went out for a nice dinner last night. I'd actually tried to book a table at his favourite restaurant, The Great India, but apparently they won't take bookings for twosomes for Saturday nights. It must be all the large groups of Give-me-yer-hottest-curry folk who, having drunk the pubs dry, need to fill their stomachs with something challenging.

So we went to The Recovery Room, which used to be the hardly-missed Malo, and before that the very-much-missed John Street Grill.

When I eat out, dessert is pretty much compulsory, so I told the boy I intended to skip the starters and just order a mains and a dessert. But the boy insisted that we both get starters, because he had his eye on the scallops with the black pudding pancakes.

So, against my better judgement, I ordered the selection of warm breads - 6 thick slabs! - with olive oil and a nutty dip.

(FYI, the boy's main was an excitingly-described lamb rump with roast potatoes. Both it and the scallops caused him to roll his eyes back in ecstasy. I had the intriguing chocolate pasta with grilled haloumi bits, a very "meaty" vegetarian dish which I couldn't finish 'cos it was too rich.)

And after all that, I still wanted dessert. This wasn't anything to do with physical hunger, oh no. It was the call of the creme brulee accompanied by almond biscotti and raspberry sorbet.

Yummy as it was though, I was too full to do it justice. I really didn't want our romantic dinner to be marred by digestive failure (again).

The boy playfully admonished me for not cleaning my plate.

"I knew I should've just ordered main and dessert", I retorted. "It's your fault for making me order a starter".

"Yeah but you only ate half of it" he replied.

"It was a starter for two!". (Okay, maybe you had to be there.)

All in all, it was a lovely evening out, despite the icy winds and the unexpected rain (possibly because I'd had the foresight to wear my hooded sheepskin coat - the boy however, got a little wet and cold around the ears). The boy can be difficult to please when it comes to eateries, so it was nice when he announced it as being "pricey but really good". My own opinion would be "Good, but pricey".

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Boy in name, boy in nature

When I knew that the boy's birthday was coming up, I decided to simply ask him what he wanted. Whatever I ended up buying him was coming out of his pay packet anyway, so it was better to get him something I knew he'd like.

And do you know what he said to get him?

An XBOX 360 and a game called Guitar Hero II. If you haven't already guessed, the latter comes with a shrunk-down version of those guitars you'll see played by Kiss-inspired bands, in garages all over the world.

And he was very pleased with it. Very pleased indeed.

**As a footnote, I did intend to surprise him with an additional birthday item - a pair of grandpa-style slippers to keep his feet toasty during the long winter nights with the game console. P'raps it's just as well I couldn't find any that were dowdy enough, because he may not have got the joke.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Now I know! You just have to believe in yourself!

This one’s from The Editter’s George jnr. I'll admit right now that this isn't my best effort, but that's what happens when your first line sounds more like a last line!

"Now I know! You just have to believe in yourself!" Alannah seemed to have overlooked the fact that Flashdance was just another Hollywood ra-ra movie, not a piece of historical evidence. Sure, self-belief is totally vital if you want to make it big in an artistic industry like dance. But all the self-belief in the world isn’t going to do you any good if you look like a WWF wrestler with a self-destructive penchant for fried foods.

Fortunately, her delusion was short-lived. Even a girl who’s dreamed of being one of those butterfly-like creatures since she was 6, has to bow down to reality eventually. And besides, believing in yourself isn’t something you can just whip up on demand.

Trouble was, if Alannah couldn’t spend the rest of her life fluttering about in a tutu, what was she going to do when she left school? She had no other interests and that was obvious from her exam results.

So an appointment was made with Mister Harris, the school’s vocational guidance counselor. He evidently hadn’t quite finished his tea break when the beefy teenager pushed open his office door and peered around it. She watched him quickly chomping down on the remaining half of his chocolate biscuit, as though he was worried she'd take it from him.

An hour later, Alannah knew that she wouldn’t like to be a bank teller (too much customer service), truck driver (too much time away from home), librarian (pays peanuts), television reporter (her skin would break out at the merest sniff of makeup) or travel agent (too much emphasis on selling). On the other hand, she still didn’t know what she wanted to do with herself if it couldn’t be dancing. On top of that, she was already well late for dinner at home.

She sat on the bus feeling horribly let down by nature. It just didn’t seem fair that, no matter how much she loved doing it or how good she might be technically, the door to her dream job was firmly closed because she didn’t fit the image.

Alannah didn’t know it yet, but one day she would be a founding member of the Big Ladies Movin' It Dance Troupe.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Moving on

I think this morning's visit to our local library's pre-school storytime will probably be our last for a while. When TLM was younger, she could sit through half an hour of storybooks, either intent on the story itself or interested in all the children around her.

But this morning TLM was clearly uninterested, because she kept trotting back to where I'd parked the buggy and rifling through the nappy bag looking for snacks to eat and zips to play with. Unfortunately, we weren't able to simply leave because the buggy was parked in (because we always seem to be the first to arrive).

So I took her over to one of the library computers, found a children's website and let her loose on the Teletubby game pages. She liked it so much she wouldn't let us leave, even when I wanted to go to the toilet.

And that's how I know that she has moved on from storybooks to computer games. My little girl is growing up, and she's going to be a lot like the boy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Geometry for beginners (0-18 months) 1

After having abandoned my first attempt at an abstract painting, missed the second class and spending days thinking about what I wanted my painting say, I started and completed this one at yesterday's class.

It looks nothing like my classmates' work, one of which was a fabulous impressionistic flower garden scene and the another impressive one being a moody picture based around a collaged image of a ball gown hanging from a coathanger (reminicent of Seraphine Pick).

I got the impression that perhaps the classmates thought my effort was a bit simple. But then, that was what I was aiming for. It is, after all, based on TLM's shape-sorting toy, as well as images from her Baby Newton DVD.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Going potty

I may be wrong, but I'm getting the feeling that TLM will very soon be ready for potty training. For a while now, she's been telling me when she's got a poo. Sometimes, "I've got a poo" means that there's a little brown deposit in her nappy right now. Other times it seems to mean that there'll be one in a minute. Then there are the time when I have to assume that either she's trying to tell me she's got wees, or that she's having me on.

We've even got the equipment ready. I went out one weekend and spent part of my child-free time searching the perfect potty. What I settled on was a 4-in-1 affair, which combines a step (to reach the sink), a potty, a potty seat which can be transferred to the family toilet, and a lid for the whole lot, which can be used as a child's seat. It's all very high-tech and comes in a very attractive lime green and blue.

But even if TLM might be ready for potty training, I don't feel that I am. From what little I know, that period of toddler development largely consists of (for the parent, anyway): 1. never leaving the house, and 2. even more laundry than you had to do before.

I'm thinking of waiting until she's old enough to train herself.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It was my partner who spied it first...

At last, I have come up with a story worthy of ms macs first line. It's about sex, money and shopping. Just joking.

It was my partner who spied it first; the crumpled white and blue of the plastic bag, hidden on the embankment at the train station.
“Thank God” I whispered, the tight knots in my neck muscles suddenly unravelling for the first time all day.

When you’re a member of the police force, having a hens night is never just a Chinese meal followed by a pub crawl. Some idiot always decides to do something mean and nasty, like shave all the bride-to-be’s hair off or arrange for the words “Carpet Muncher” to be inexpertly tattooed on her biceps while she’s comatose in the ladies’ toilets.

In fact, if I really think about, fear of my anticipated hens night was probably one of the reasons it took me so long to agree to marry Frank. Frank would have you believe it’s because I’m a free spirit, hard to pin down and even harder to stop from flirting with every fireman from here to New York. Well, okay there’s a grain of truth in that. Who could resist a hot-blooded fireman? I’m only human, after all.

But really, I love the guy – Frank, that is – and ever since that evening he made me the most amazing lasagne I’ve ever tasted, I’ve known he was the one for me. He’s no muscle-bound silver-jacketed superhero, but he can cook like a god. And give a helluva good backrub. Like I said, the only reason I didn’t marry the guy two years ago was because I was shit-scared of walking down the aisle looking like early Sinead O’Connor.

And I suppose I did get off lightly, because when I march down the aisle tomorrow it’ll be as a brunette and not a baldy. But those cows stole my wedding dress somehow, and hid it in a shopping bag in a disused railway station.

And that’s not the worst of it.

When I opened up that plastic bag, I got an eyeful of orange silk. Orange silk.

Now I’m going to be indistinguishable from the bridesmaids.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Writer's block

You might well be wondering why I haven't posted any new attempts at story-writing for a few days.

I have in fact been labouring on ms. mac's first line, though very unsuccessfully. There's just no way I've been able to turn it into a tale of shopping, sex OR money. It's certainly shown me that I can't write police stories. But I'm not giving up on it, because that's would just be impolite. I'm going to keep with it until I produce something I can bear to be read by your lovely selves.

It might just take a while. Or...perhaps a slight change of wording.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Little Pretender

Recently TLM has taken to playing "pretend" games - well, one in particular. She's constantly wanting to be lifted into her cot, where her nanna quilt now lives, and pretending it's bed time. Which sounds like every parent's dream, except she insists on me being in the room with her.

Here's a picture of TLM pretending to do the dishes.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mac Attack

The boy and I had hoped that it had abated, this mysterious energy force in my body which causes our wireless Internet connections to fail.

He thought we couldn't go wrong with a MacBook, because Macs in general have a reputation for being just about fool-proof. But it lasted only a week or so because suddenly it wasn't able to get on the 'Net any more.

So I'm back to very old desktop computer, the one which takes about ten minutes to start up and sends out "overheating" warnings when the room temperature gets over 20 degrees Celsius.

I shouldn't complain, really. Some people have no choice but to blog at work or at the public library.