Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Shoe Story

See these happy girls? Any of them could be me. Shoe shopping is my sport, my drug and my secret lover all rolled into one. It gives me such a high, such a sense of achievement that nothing else can beat it. I strut out of stores with a pair of brand-new shoes feeling unbelievably smug, and as I waft out of there smiling I actually have to fight the urge to high-five myself. And then I can't wait to get them home and examine them from every angle. I look at them tenderly, deciding what to wear them with and when. It's almost like falling in love. And it's even more like love when it all goes wrong.

Recently I bought a pair of silver ballet flats to replace a loved-to-death pair that had been retired. I hit the shop, picked them out, tried them on, loved them, bought them. Too easy. AND they were on sale. Bonus.

I resisted the urge to wear them immediately as it was raining and we had a birthday party with a petting zoo to go to and I had a sneaking suspicion there would be animals there (yes, I'm very perceptive like that) and that they may have questionable personal habits. As it turned out I was right because I not only walked through duck poo, I knelt in it as well. And I had a pony ride. But I digress.

So the next day I wore my shoes for a few hours around the house. I took them off at one stage and noticed that the silver coating on the leather had come off around the toe and the side of the shoe. It seemed to be unsealed and was rubbing off on my hand, so I decided to return the shoes the next business day.

I have shopped at this particular store many, many times and been served by lovely sales assistants who can't do enough for their customers. But this time I was served by a man who seemed to take a strong dislike to me the minute I said "return". He glanced at them and told me I had damaged the shoes so he wouldn't refund me or exchange them. He also told me he had an angry phone message from me about these shoes which he'd be hanging on to, should he need to use it against me. I breathed deeply, smiled and told him I was here because the shoes were obviously faulty. I also said, still smiling, that I had left no such message, but it seemed he had received another complaint about the same ones, so obviously there was a problem with them and shouldn't he take it up with the manufacturer?

About this stage of the conversation he got aggressive. He threw the shoes at me and told me to get out of his shop and never come back. Call me sensitive, but this is where I got seriously pissed off. I realised I was getting nowhere and was being conned. And suddenly, somewhere in my brain a bomb went off. I now know what people mean when they 'see red'. I lost my temper and shouted HANG ON A MINUTE! I'M THE CUSTOMER HERE and moved on to how he CANNOT TREAT ME THIS WAY. People were standing there staring open-mouthed at the crazy woman waving shoes around. I would have. Then I barked something about consumer affairs, that he would be hearing from me and stormed out of the shop.

Which may have been quite a powerful exit had I not had to immediately storm back in to retrieve my two year old who was trying on gold wedge sandals and refusing to leave. It kind of killed the moment. But that said, I wasn't really trying to make any kind of impression, and I don't actually feel good about making a scene or shouting at anyone, let alone complete strangers who I believe owe me money and I'm trying to reason with.

The result of this is that I now have a consumer affairs case pending against the shop, so I won't name and shame just yet (but I'll update this post when I can). I'm still mad as hell, and I have no idea whether I'll get my money back, but my hope is that I can give the owner of the shop at least my money's worth of grief over it. I was left feeling ripped off and humiliated which can't be good for future business. What is also bad for his business is my word of mouth, which I have passed on freely to everyone I know. I've since heard feedback from friends that my experience is fairly common at this store, as the owner's usual mode of operation to avoid making good on people's returns is to be a bully. I hate bullies.

You know the worst part? I feel like I've been broken up with really badly, because I really loved that shop. It was a treasure trove of shoes of every kind at every price point for every occasion. I can never go back again because, just like a break up, it all went wrong and now the love is gone. Hell hath no fury like a shoe lover scorned.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Swimwear Shopping is an Extreme Sport

*This will be me on holidays, except I will try to remember to take my shoes off before swimming. Still, we all know after a few cocktails anything's possible...

Swimwear shopping requires five key elements: focus, fitness, stamina, high self esteem and a whole lot of patience. I know this because I did it recently, and it's fair to say the experience almost broke me. If I had to describe it in just a few words... It sucked the big one.

Wherever you're from and whatever you call them, swimmers/bathers/ togs/cossies do the same thing.

They allow us to go naked in public and pretend we're not.

Two weeks ago the elastic in my favourite red one-piece turned to custard. Literally. After Lucy's swimming lesson I lifted her out of the pool, pulled myself out as gracefully as I could and headed towards our towels, only to discover that the front of my swimmers were swinging past my hips like a prolapse. Not. Good.

Timing wise, it wasn't the best time for the old cossie to pack it in. It was the last week of August, and therefore Winter. Finding ANY kind of swimwear at this time of year is almost impossible. Two weeks into September I'd be slightly better off, but the choices were few and far between. I went everywhere, I really did. And I tried on everything. With a two year old in tow. It was a laugh a minute. But the hardest part wasn't the lack of choice. It was the lack of the essential items required for a swimwear-ready body:

Tan (real or fake)



Soft lighting (Myer tends to frown on BYO candles in their change rooms. Go figure.)


Personal retoucher.

I am only half joking about these, and while I don't actually hate my body, like most women I am acutely aware of its flaws, be they real or perceived. Thing is, when we put on our swimmers and venture forth, apart from a thin piece of Lycra to cover our private bits, we are basically naked. And when it's Summertime and hot, and we're all on the beach and everyone's happy and summery and has attended to a few of the above, it's happy days and who cares. But with the exception of Miranda Kerr and that incredibly hot woman in the new Seafolly campaign, who has a body they'd be happy to see in a swimsuit at the very end of Winter? Hands up!

While I was tempted to buy one of those fabulously modest birkinis just to cover up the multitude of sins I've been able to hide over winter (especially as the elastic headed lower and lower in my old swimmers), I decided on a forgiving tankini from Tar-jay for our weekly dunking in chlorine at swim school. I also bought a Jets one piece with an invisible in-built strapless bra thingy to make my boobs salute the sun when we go on holidays. It's all false advertising and I won't be doing star jumps in it, but by golly the girls look perky.

As my two purchases go, I'm as happy as I can be with swimwear, but now that the naked-in-public thing has dawned on me I'm having a fit thinking about getting nude every week at swimming. I've done it happily all year but suddenly have given myself a reason for a weekly anxiety attack. Thankfully the pool we go to is full of lovely Mums of all shapes and sizes who, like me, couldn't give a toss what anyone else looks like. I've just had one of those 'a-ha' moments and have remembered that Summer body confidence takes time and layers of fake tan to build.

By the end of Summer I'm practically romping around in hardly a cheesecloth hanky every day of the week, but from here I've got a long way to go.

Time to break out the St Tropez and suck it in.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is it ever OK to discipline someone else's child?

The subject of when, if ever, it's acceptable to discipline other people's kids has been on my mind lately. To be clear from the outset, I'm not some cane-wielding headmistress who's always on the lookout for a delinquent kid to sort out, but sometimes I wonder what, if anything, I am morally (and legally) entitled to do in a situation where a kid needs to be pulled up.

Last week at preschool, as six parents and their kids waited for the front door to open there were two little boys doing what little boys do, play fighting and shoving each other up against the door. They were hitting the door with a fair bit of force but their parents both seemed oblivious. It WAS annoying, particularly BC (before coffee) but I figured it wasn't my place to say anything.

This went on for a few minutes before one of the other parents went completely off his nut at them, yelling at them to "Stop that this minute! You'll break the door and then there'll be serious trouble! Now come here and sit down!" (or words to that effect - he did go on a bit, and boy was he LOUD).

The ensuing silence was deafening and he collective air sucked in at that moment almost started a low pressure system. The parents of the boys called them over sheepishly and they sat down. Nobody dared say a word, and everyone started inspecting their shoes. Finally, a brave soul enquired to nobody in particular if we were all going to the school concert and the ice broke.

It was a hot topic of conversation at the park that afternoon. "Did you hear him? You can't DO that!" was the gist of it, and the consensus was it was a definite howler by this Dad, who will henceforth be known as "The Daddy Who Lost His Shit at the Boys" by parents and kids alike.

But it doesn't stop there. It's not only an issue if you take on a kid in front of their parents. What about the child on a play date at your place who empties drawers, draws on your walls and pushes your toddler down the stairs. What do you do then?

Having recently felt the wrath of a close friend whose child my husband inadvertently told off (long story), it's a sensitive issue and one that can cause tremors in even the most rock-solid of friendships.

Personally, I'd like to think that if my kid is being offensive, or doing something dangerous, or mean or behaving in an anti-social manner and there is a reasonable adult nearby, the adult is entitled to tell them to stop whatever they are doing. This doesn't have to be delivered in a whispery 'Stop that please, petal' kind of voice, but neither should it have to come with a backhand. There's a lot of grey area in between, and that's where the trouble starts.

I have been known to ask kids at the park to please stop throwing bark in my baby's eyes and then calling in their parents when they didn't. They parents didn't like it but frankly, neither did I appreciate having to ask them to step in. I hope in these situations I don't go into overprotective mother mode, but I can't guarantee it's the case. My husband calls me Mother Lion with good reason, so I'm not going to get all 'glass houses' here. I'm just saying that when it comes to disciplining other people's kids there's a whole murky subject on who should deliver it and in what form. And on which side of it you're standing at the time.

I'd really love to hear your comments on this. Have you ever had a parent face-off over disciplining someone else's kid?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Dog Blog

*This is not the greatest picture of Syd but the little bugger won't sit still.
Look, I know I go on a bit, and I'm especially guilty of raving when I'm excited. Many of you already know about Syd the Silky Terrier who is our latest addition to the family. So, as threatened, here's a bit about him.

Syd is 11 weeks old, and is the latest in a long line of Silkies, following Louis, Woody, and our beloved childhood dog Dudley, who lived to a grand old age of 18 before shuffling off to the big doghouse in the sky. I think that's something like 126 in human years.

My sister Amy also bought a pup from the same litter as Syd and called hers Alfie. We joke that we're going to end up as crazy old ladies who live together having outlived our husbands, and breed Silky Terriers between botox shots and G&T's. It's funny but could easily come true, which is frightening. But I digress.

Syd and Alfie seem to adore each other and it's lovely that they have their brother around the corner. They attack each other in a yapping, feral ball of teeth and fur every time they see each other, which we're hoping is their way of showing affection. If not, things could get ugly down the track.

When Alfie's not around, Syd spends his days hanging by his teeth, which are usually attached to one of the girls' socks or pants. There's always a lot of screaming and yelping involved and a crazed dash for the sofa, where the kids launch themselves to safety, and Syd ends up wedged under the couch and needs retrieval.

Lucy calls him 'darling' which is adorable, and she happily shares her dummies with him. We're keeping the worming up on everyone. Sofie is unsure of him, as he is jumpy and nippy and while he is growing on her, she regards him suspiciously. That is, except when we walk him to the park or past preschool and are mobbed by the kids. At such times he is "MY puppy Syd. Do you want to pat him?"

He's getting the hang of house training. Sort of. He now pees on the carpet and immediately runs outside. My patience and my carpet are being stretched to their limits. I don't even want to think about having to toilet train Lucy, which will be coming in only a few short months.

In the evening, Syd divides his time between my lap and Mark's, wagging his tail and doing adorable puppy things which ensure his survival the next time he pees in the house. We love him and are so happy he's ours.

Finally, his name. I'm not an 'I saw it in a dream' kind of girl, but shortly before he came I dreamt we were picking up our puppy at the airport and he had a destination tag on his box saying SYD. As he came on a plane from the breeder in Queensland it just kind of fitted. And stuck with our family tradition of naming our dogs after old men. I have no idea why.

I can't promise anything, but I'm going to try to make this my last dog post. As I mentioned to someone recently, this blog is starting to look like a pet shop. And I don't want to be the crazy blogging lady who has nothing to write about but her pets. Even if it's true.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake (the most dangerous cake recipe in the world)

UPDATE: Since I posted this afternoon, a few people have mentioned that this recipe is well known and does the rounds on email on a regular basis. When I was given it as part of a flyer for our local school's cake stall, it was the first time I'd heard of it which is why I thought it was worth sharing, so I apologise if you've seen it before.
So, like me, if you missed it the first 50 times around.... Chocolate Mug Cake!
My thanks to the mystery donor of this recipe at Orange Grove Public School, from the bottom of my thighs...

4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 egg

3 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons oil

3tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)

Splash of vanilla extract

1 large coffee mug

1. Add dry ingredients to mug, mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly with a fork.

2. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract and mix again.

3. Put the mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high). NB The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

4. Allow to cool a little, tip onto a place if desired.

5. Enjoy! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?

Because now we are only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's worse than being late?

I can't handle lateness. At ten minutes I will be understanding, twenty at a pinch, but after that I start to get mighty peeved. I consider lateness to be rudeness. I believe it's a show of disrespect for those who are expecting you, and sends the message that your time is more valuable than theirs.

To get down from my high horse for a minute, I also accept it is sometimes unavoidable, and even I am guilty of it from time to time. (Unbelievable but true.) When I am running late I get myself into such a hysterical state it's almost laughable. Especially when I arrive apologising and gasping and nobody had actually noticed I was late in the first place. But I try not to be, and generally speaking I'm a pretty punctual person.

And then sometimes good intentions go to the other extreme. Here's what happened on Sunday.

On Sunday we packed up the family for a small family friend's second birthday party, starting at 3pm. By 2pm we had everyone napped and fed. By 2.25 we had wrapped the present (having spent a sizeable part of the morning fighting off the crowd at the Target toy sale to find it), wrote on the card and everyone had a crack at signing it.

After the usual Benny Hill chase around the house with squealing half naked children, we finally got everyone clean, dressed nicely and looking respectable. It was 2.45.

We got in the car and Husband suggested a quick detour to his office to pick something up. No way! said I, that will make us (gasp!) late. Can we please go there after the party instead? Ok, says kind husband, sensing his wife is about to become completely neurotic. So we continued on, no detour, straight to our friends' house. We parked, unloaded, smoothed down skirts and put hair clips back in and, knocking on the door, made our entrance perfectly timed at 3pm.
A week early.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jumping on the weekday wagon

I've come to the conclusion that I am hitting the chardy just a little too hard, too often. I mean, is half a bottle a night considered excessive? Probably not, except sometimes it's more like two-thirds, and the fact that I'm rounding it down makes me concerned that I'm turning into a pisshead.

So, once again, I'm slow on the uptake but I'm going to have a crack at Dry July (midweek version). And yes, I am aware of the fact that July is now half over. How convenient.

I used to be a weekend only drinker but recently it's crept up on me and has become party time anytime. That's not to say I'm going to bed hammered every night, and I'm still up and out running every morning but I'm thinking about the health messages we are constantly hearing telling us to cut down, embrace alcohol free days and send our kids positive drinking messages. I guess it's sinking in, because I'm getting paranoid about how much, and how often.

As to how it's come to this, I blame my family (shame on them). By the time the day ends, the kids are fed, watered, cleaned and bedded, I'm ready for a bit of grown-up entertainment. Which usually means Masterchef, time to talk over the day with my hubby and a glass of wine. Or three.

I figured that if I blog on it, it's out there and I have to actually do it, instead of thinking about it and wagging my finger at myself but doing nothing. So here goes. I'm not promising an epiphany or any soulful revelations, but I think it's time to show a little restraint, midweek at least. I don't want to turn into one of those sozzled mummies who ends up in rehab and misses the school swimming carnival (I knew one from my school days). Or get to a point where I CAN'T have an alcohol free day because I truly need a glass of wine. Pass the mineral water!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Felt Like Teen Spirit

*Stunt double used for photo. The likeness is uncanny.

Sometimes I realise I'm about to miss something and then go at it full-tilt to get my maximum enjoyment in the short time I have before it passes me by. Case in point was yesterday's TripleJ Hottest 100 of All Time which was played for most of the day. While we were out driving with our CD player on (duh!) I missed many of the tracks that have formed the soundtrack to my life such as Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.

So when I got home and had a look at Twitter I realised what I was missing. Mark threw on the stereo and we got busy catching up and making bets on who would be number one. By the time we got to Bohemian Rhapsody (6) I had the volume up, the cardie off and was swinging my hair like a crazed metal head. Jeff Buckley made me cry with Hallelujah (3) so I excused myself to go Tweet, and pulled myself together for The Big One.

Number 2 - Rage Against the Machine - Killing In The Name brought the kids running. It could have been because I turned it up so loudly the kitchen windows rattled. I was worried I'd scared them, but Lucy started shaking her hair and punching the air with her little fist (she's two). She's always had a bit of rock n' roll attitude, but this confirmed all our fears. I also suspect the famous line "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me" from the song has special relevance to her. I am not surprised.

Sofie was jumping on the couch shouting 'yeah! yeah!' at the sight of her mother playing air guitar in a full lunge. Mark was jumping up and down on the spot, which meant he was dancing.

And then I had one of those amazing moments where the sound disappears and everything slows down just for a moment. I looked around the family room and saw my elated, crazy family Going Right Off. And it was wonderful to see us whipped into such a joyous frenzy, just having the most fantastic time doing something so great together. It wasn't Scrabble, or sport, it was our very own mosh pit. And it was gooooood!

By the time Number 1 was announced as Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit the kids were exhausted. Lucy obviously didn't agree with the consensus, announced "NO!" and left the room. Sofie followed. Which left Mark and I to relive the early 90's when we were just together, going to the Big Day Out and had no kids. It was right and perfect and we danced and shouted and punched the air. It's a good thing I didn't have the webcam on or we would have ended up on "Past-it People Looking Stupid" or some equally humiliating show.

Then, when it was over, we turned down the stereo, fed and bathed the kids and agreed that that was the best fun we've had in ages. We might be almost geriatric, but we rocked out.

I think I've poisoned the fish.

OK, so some who visit here (thanks, guys) already know we've recently acquired a fish tank. It's officially my daughter's tank, which was purchased by her adoring Grandad for her birthday because 'she's old enough to look after a pet now'. Which she does by instructing me on a weekly basis to remember to feed the fish. Which I do. Daily.

But I digress. We got the rogue snails under control and it's been all bubbles and relaxing aquarianism (is that a word?) here for the past month or two, give or take the odd cleanout a fish tank requires.

Last week I got fed up with looking at the brown stain that was spreading across the tank and decided the only way I was going to get rid of the slime was to dip the ornamental mermaid into diluted bleach. I figured it would kill the algae and restore the mermaid to her milky-skinned glory, which it did. After rinsing the mermaid with half of Warragamba Dam the tank has never looked better, the mermaid is smiling and everything looks lemony fresh.

Everything except the fish.

The big gold one is pretty robust, and I'd bet you couldn't kill him with an axe. 'Blackie' isn't looking too bad either. But 'Flounder' is looking decidedly unwell. He's taken on weird white spots since the cleanout, which have appeared on his tail and around one eye. I'm wondering if he's gone all Michael Jackson (is it too soon?) and just been bleached a bit, or if this is The Beginning of The End.

Naturally, I've Googled the symptoms and have come up with everything from Fin Rot (fatal) to Tank Damage (also fatal). Nobody said anything about bleach poisoning, but I suspect no-one who truly loved and cared for their fishy friends would actually use bleach in their fish tank (let alone admit it on a pet-care website), so it's a given that it might have an unfortunate prognosis. We shall see.

With a new puppy arriving in around a fortnight, I'm concerned about my nurturing abilities. Now I've cracked the bubbly and high-fived myself for getting two babies past the two-year milestone, am I dropping the ball? Have I forgotten how to look after small creatures? Is it time to get out 'Babylove' again and do a refresher course?

Time will tell. If the fish makes it, I'll relax. But until then I'm staring into the tank and holding my breath. If you can, say a prayer or offer up a thought for Flounder. I suspect he could use all the help he can get.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Things I Shouldn't Have Done (Part 1)

Regrets, I've had a few...
Without breaking into song, it's occurred to me in the past day or two that there are some things I'd rather not do again. Regret is a horrible feeling. It's like Guilt Lite. It has a particular sting, not unlike guilt, that makes us shake our heads and wonder "how could I have been so... dumb?".
Without laying every sordid detail of my life bare, at least today, here's part one. I'm ashamed to say there's more to come.

Regret 1. The Fringe.

Oh, lord how I wanted it, thinking it would make me look younger, infinitely chic AND keep my forehead warm for winter. I was thinking Lily Allen meets Coco Chanel in her fringe phase. It has become more like a wonky awning on my forehead and is just a pain in the arse. The blunt, ironed perfection that leaves the bathroom seems to morph into a puffy, wavy mohair blanket by the time I reach the front door.
To make it worse, every time I get rained on (which lately seems to be twice daily, at least) it further turns on me by going in four different directions. I have taken to wearing my daughter's clips to keep it out of my eyes, which is a completely wrong look on so many levels. I just hope it grows quickly so I can tuck it behind my ears sometime before my 40th birthday in a few years' time.

Regret 2. The Hangover.

Last Saturday evening my sister and I decided somehow, somewhere along the way, to drink our body weight in wine. It was not a premeditated strike on my liver, but it was one hell of a job. As we weigh roughly the same, it was a pretty fair fight. We laughed, we ate, we looked at family photo albums. Our partners watched the rugby, so essentially ignored/left us to our own devices, which was getting completely faceless. Let's just say it was fun while it lasted. I assume my hubby said goodbye to them and called them a cab, because I don't remember going to bed. Sunday morning was NOT fun. Or Sunday afternoon. Or even part of Monday. Now I know why I don't do that any more.

Regret 3. Saying YES.

I do not sew. I sometimes think I'd like to, but my brain wagged the compulsory sewing classes we were subjected to in years eight and nine. How I escaped with nothing but the ability to badly fix a hole in a sock and replace a button amazes me.

So imagine my surprise when my mouth overrode my brain (which actually isn't that surprising or unusual, now I think of it) at Preschool yesterday. The sign on the notice board said "Help! Parents needed to help sew costumes for end of term concert. Please see Mrs Wilson." So I did, and offered my expertise. I warned her I wasn't very good but was willing to help. I now have 10 tracksuits sitting in a bag awaiting sequinning and sparkles for the 'gravity' dance number. I now regret that the preschoolers will have the crappiest costumes in the whole school because S's mummy doesn't know when to shut her mouth.

So much regret, so little time to blog about it. Stay tuned for more, coming soon.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

For Louis

Pic: Amy Sibraa

The day you were born I got a phone call to say you had arrived. I actually jumped up and down for joy at the news. When you came home to us you could fit in the palm of my hand. You let me carry you around in my handbag, with just your little head sticking out, and you came everywhere with me. We had just moved to Brisbane, and you were my only daylight companion in those first days. In no time we were each other’s best friend.

I was so proud of you when we went out for walks, you charging ahead on tiny legs, going a million to the dozen, always keen, even when those tiny legs gave out and I had to pick you up for the last leg home.

You used to hide under the coffee table and leap out to scare us. And you vandalized the flokati rug. It’s never been the same since the ‘cheese’ incident. You grew and found your voice. And you barked. And barked. All day, all night. I realise you were doing your job, but you drove us insane with your incessant yapping, right under our bedroom. It earned you a couple of kicks up the bum. You deserved them.

On the afternoon of your first new year’s eve, Mark took you for a walk around the block. You stuck your head through a gate, and almost lost it to a much larger dog, who also managed to get a decent grip on your neck. The ensuing scuffle saw Mark stick his foot through the gate, which saved your neck but broke Mark’s toe. It’s still crooked.

We had to find you a companion when the hormones kicked in. You were so happy to meet Mr Bear, and he became your bitch, in every sense of the word. At least you showed him affection. I suppose it could have been worse…

And then, when Sofie was born you were so excited to meet her. You loved her and wagged your tail whenever she so much as squeaked. If you were jealous of her, you never let it show. When Lucy came along, again you were as overjoyed as we were. She became a third and abundant food source, and you allowed her particular leeway when it came to vigorous pats and cuddles.

You were the dog who made timid children forget their fear of dogs. Wherever we could take you, you went. When we didn’t take you, you dropped your head, dragged your feet out the door and gave us your most heartbroken face. Every night at bedtime Mark or I had to drag you out from under Lucy’s cot. You thought you were one of the kids, and you were as much a part of our family as any one of us.

So when we lost you two weeks ago, it tore a hole in us. You were only five years old, and we had expected to see you grow old with our family. Not only was your death untimely, but violent and cruel. I wish everything about that afternoon could have been different. I can’t help thinking my negligence was a contributing factor. One more brick was all I needed to block that fence… but I didn’t see the hole. Those horrible dogs should never have been there. I should have forced the neighbour to get rid of them before something like this happened.

As we come to terms with your death, we also have to adjust to your loss. We all miss you terribly. Sofie told me this morning how much she misses your waggy tail. Lucy still calls to you in the garden. Mark misses your silhouette against the wall in the evening. My morning run is lonely without you, and there are people stopping me every day to ask where you are. There have been cards, flowers, notes and visits from family, friends and neighbours who loved you very much. You couldn’t have had any concept of how popular and loved you were.

To us, you were more than a pet. You were one of us. And a very good boy. (Except for the barking but now is hardly the time, is it?)

I should let you know that there is a new puppy coming in the next few months. He cannot and will not replace you, but he will fill the hole you have left. We will love him and treasure him as much as we did you. He has the same Grandad as you, so we believe a little of you will live on in him. But we will never forget you, and we will always remember you as the happy, loving and sweet little guy you were. Thank you for enriching our lives in ways you could never have known.

You will be in our hearts always.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Tale of the Snail

(With a nod to Julia Donaldson)

Here is a tale of a tiny snail,
who appeared in our tank with barely a tail.
So tiny, he looked like a speck on the side
But the speck moved a little and started to slide.

A snail! we all cried, What the heck? How the blazes?
And several other exclamatory phrases.
We gave him a name: it was Shorty the Small,
Our brand newest pet, and the smallest of all.

It took him forever to get here to there
But he covered some ground and explored everywhere.
The very next day, young Shorty the Small
Had doubled in size and was having a ball.

But... he wasn't a purchase, or even required,
So how in the devil was Shorty acquired?
And still the plot thickened - how can this be?
First there was Shorty, but now there are three!

They came out of nowhere, more, and still more.
How do they get in? Through a secret snail door?
FISH! Said the pet shop, they'll eat them for lunch!
That's how you'll get rid of the Shorty Snail bunch.

The pet shop explained how the snails found their way.
There wasn't a snail door, they were stowaways.
They arrived on the plants in their eggs as wee babies
To start a new life, and some more Shorty's maybe.

But it wasn't to be. We took home three fish.
Who seemed to be hungry for snail as a dish.
It's sad, but it's true, and we just couldn't look
So we set the fish free and opened a book.

In the tank the next morning there was less of a crowd.
The snails were all gone and the fish looked quite proud.
And ever since then, there's no sign of a snail.
And that is the end of the Shorty Snail Tale.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why the Library is Dangerous

Yesterday I pulled a groin muscle while returning the kids' library books.
It went like this: Pull up outside library, grab books, jump out, drop books on road, bend over, pick up books, turn around, hop up kerb, TWANG! Ouch. Limp limp limp. Return books. Limp back to car, go home and get ice pack for groin.
I do realise this was not actually the library's fault, and will not be suing anyone. But it got me thinking that these days, nowhere is safe. I mean, you could expect an injury at say, the park. Or even falling down stairs. But who knew that libraries could be such dangerous places? So, obviously feeling somewhat morbid, I started imagining all the horrible things that could happen at the library:

*Paper cuts.
*Getting a finger jammed in the photocopier.
*Dropping The Oxford Comprehensive Dictionary on your foot.
*Getting rammed in the back of the ankles by strollers at Story Time.
*Head injuries from bashing it on the desk when you can't figure out the catalogue system.
*Death stares from librarians.
*Fatal allergic reaction to the half peanut butter sandwich found on page 7 of Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy.

Have I forgotten any?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Posted Today On Mamamia about "Toxic Friends"

I had a friend who loved to get together and trash everyone we knew. She tore into their appearance, their taste, their partners, their incomes. She probably did the same to me behind my back. She was two-faced and mean spirited, and every time we hung out I was left with a big, sad hole in the bottom of my stomach. Toxic in every sense.
I had known her for a long time, all through school and our weddings, but I just had to pull the plug. I ignored her calls, and really had to hide for a while until she got the message and went away.
To be honest, I feel a bit gutless for not actually telling her why we couldn't be friends any more. But I didn't want to discuss it, I just wanted her bile out of my life. And, let's face it, who wants to get into a scrag-fight? I'm almost ashamed to say this about my own gender, but women are like rats... never corner them.
Mutual friends have asked why I broke up with her and I've told them the truth. I had hoped they would pass it on.
So, last week, about seven years since our last conversation, she asked me to be her Facebook friend. I guess the message never got through.

Sleep is for Wimps

Last night was a night of hot, shallow broken sleep. If you can call it sleep.
Four visits by The Fairy who had variously lost her drink bottle, then dolly, needed a cuddle and had a sore back.
Then our electrical safety switch tripped, which sent our cordless phone into a beeping frenzy as it's power was switched off. With the fuss it made you'd be forgiven for thinking it also needed a cuddle. So Hubby gets up, turns the power back on, returns to bed, gets up again, makes notes for his meeting in the morning, comes back to bed.
By now I am awake. And angry. After what seems like hours I finally fall asleep again for about seven seconds before the alarm goes off to welcome in the new day. Oh, hurrah.
The Fairy is barely awake and she's yawning into her Rice Bubbles. She is weary from her nocturnal activities and would like to stay home today. She is packed off to preschool with instructions to have a nap at rest time.
The Pixie on the other hand is full of beans after a long, restful night's sleep and wants to dance the day away. I can only dance with her and hope she has a long nap.
I long for a night of uninterrupted sleep, but in the meantime I'm trying to convince myself that sleep is overrated. I'm going to soldier on, get stuff done and have my third coffee for the day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Shut Up Gwyneth

Ok, clarification time. Gwynnie was actually talking about her blog, Goop, when she said that. She was defending it to some nosy journo who had the nerve to ask her what was so damn good about it. I've been onto Goop, and... well, obviously I don't get it because I don't like it. I think it's elitist twaddle at worst, and hilariously funny at best. Especially as Gwyn loves to tell people how they can dress like her, be better mothers like her, and generally more enlightened... yes, like her.
So now I'm back on my original 'shut up Gwyneth' bandwagon.
In terms of words of wisdom, I suppose it was a good comment in defence of Goop (such a perfect name). And hey, nobody wants to be hammered about sharing their life on their blog (ahem...)
Quote of the day: "You don't really get it, because if you did, you would like it..." Gwyneth Paltrow.
Usually, I would steer clear of anything Gwynnie has to say and she is one of the last people I'd ever quote, because I think she's boring and incredibly uptight. But this struck a chord with me.
Just goes to show we all have a few words of wisdom in us.
It's amazing when you see someone from your past doing something that would seem to be completely out of character for the person you knew back then. Case in point is an old friend I've lost touch with, who has undergone a metamorphosis. Her whole persona has changed, from her look, to her accent, to her goals to her... everything. I know this because she is in the public eye at the moment, showing everyone her new self and claiming to be the person we all should want to be. I'm happy for her, and it's great that she's doing something that makes her happy. A lot can happen in 13 years, true. But it makes me wonder if I ran into my old 13-year ago self in some weirdy parallel universe, would I think I was so different?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is there anything better than rolling around on the floor with your kids? My 19 month old and I just had fifteen solid minutes of playing 'roly poly', killing ourselves laughing and trying to keep the dog off us. I'm still wiping peanut butter off my face from all the kisses. Heaven.
It's taken forever to set this thing up. I'm still not sure about how much of my personal info to put on here, as I do get freaked out about identity theft, weirdos and by over-sharing people.
For someone who spends way too much time giving her two bob's worth on other people's blogs, it's about time I took the reins and took on some of the responsibility for posting content. And it's just ocurred to me that I can steer this thing anywhere I want it to go. Scary.
Annoyingly, after all that setting up, my time is now up... Baby is awake. At least I'll have time to think about what I'll write next... so I guess I'll see you later.