Saturday, December 31, 2011

The thought that counts...

At 4pm, when I should be in the school run, I’m actually gluing the beak back on a tiny penguin.  Having already stuck the belly back on a humpback whale, and the ears on a panda. It’s a long story. 

In the countdown to Christmas, Lucie’s 4th Birthday, and half her other pals’ too, I need presents! MORE PRESENTS!

I also need treat bags. A tradition I only recently learned about, along with other mysteries like school holidays, teacher’s gifts and so on, I am assembling Lucie’s birthday treat bags for her class-mates tomorrow, and after calling the pre-school I’m faced with the hard fact that I need TWEN-TY-ONE!!!!!  

So each bag has a balloon, a Chuppa-chup, a Kinder chocolate, a whistle and I found these cute little rubber animals (they’re actually Japanese designed collectible erasers).  But realising I would come up way short, I bought a five-pack of cheaper imitations that looked exactly the same…until you open the packet and they tumble out in pieces.
What would I do without superglue?

Just another of those random tasks that falls to a mother that she can’t remember when other women ask “what do you do with your time? why are you always so busy?”

Other random tasks that fell to this mother during the week were nine pre-school teachers to buy gifts for; four really special ones for her teachers for the past two years, three less special ones for her new teachers and little presents for all the casual staff who also do an excellent job
Then there are the afore mentioned take-to-school birthday treat bags to assemble, another twelve on-the-day-birthday party bags (where I went way overboard), gifts for our elderly ex-neighbors, a total of six kid's birthday parties to shop for and attend.. then there was Lucie's first ever birthday party. And this is all outside of the normal run-of-the-mill Christmas shopping which I haven't started.

I realised that I was getting a bit gift-obsessive when I started looking for ideas for the council guys who collect our garbage... I know they do a fab job and they're always very forgiving when I wave them down because we've forgotten to put out all the bins. But what did I think I was going to do? - stand on the curb at 5am wearing PJ's and a Santa hat with an arm full of parcels? 

Hey, it's the thought that counts, right?


And how's this for recycling? 12 failed attempts at a passport photo became this years christmas card!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

DIY passport mugshots

DON'T try this at home..

My husband says "just sit her on a stool with the white wall behind and take her photo".. yeah right!

We have a trip to India planned for the new year, but for some reason, being allowed to holiday in a third world country involves more paperwork than your average mortgage application and ID checks that would do the FBI proud.

(There must more illegal immigrants from Australia than I imagined) So despite our good current Aussie passports, we apparently need some heavy duty visas and that means more photos.

I was actually hoping to avoid the whole passport photo thing for another year, when Lucie’s passport needs renewing. I imagine her being more of an age then, where I might be able to ask her to sit still for a nanosecond and have her oblige.

The first time around for passport photos I was given some pretty tough instructions:
Show the baby awake, looking straight at the camera, both edges of the face clearly visible, with a neutral expression, mouth closed, and no pacifier.  

I thought “but she doesn’t have head control yet and you want me to tell her to keep a neutral expression? Are you insane?”  I was also told her neck had to be visible, which sent me into a complete tail-spin, but fortunately that wasn’t correct.

But a very helpful photographer gave me a tip that worked out fine; ‘Lie her on a white rug on the floor, put a rolled hand-towel under the rug under her neck then take the photos from above her’.  Good tip – saved my life.

Young as she was, Lucie did have a considerable repertoire of ‘other’ facial expressions that apparently needed to be expressed first, but in the end after about 30 mug-shots, she tired of face pulling and I achieved that elusive ‘neutral expression’.

Nowadays Lucie is about as helpful as the dog in front of the camera. (He’s like a canine version of George Clooney but wont sit still for a heartbeat – it’s a total waste of a gorgeous face)

Ok so Lucie’s not a supermodel. She is however, still very partial to pulling faces. To make matters worse (for me) having a warped sense of humour (where did she get that I wonder?) she also enjoys my frustration to the point where she cracks up laughing at me the more stressed I get and the more begging I do.

Again, after a lot of shutter clicking, I emailed one borderline-acceptable-photo ot the travel agent, but the jury’s still out on whether it’s up to India’s Secret Service’s standards.

If they reject this one, I am going to bite the bullet - fight the chaotic Christmas traffic, the parking pandemonium and hand her over to a professional passport photographer. Let them deal with her antics before mummy develops Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from pressing the shutter button.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bad Santa versus Thunderpants

Last time I took a child to see Santa the old bastard tried to hit on me.   

And as we left, my disillusioned little niece announced; " That Santa was creepy."

That experience, gave me a serious dose of the bah humbugs. I was with my sister at the time, taking her adorable little girl to see a department store Father Christmas and within seconds, Santa was all over me like a cheap suit. I swear it was like a scene out of "Bad Santa", but I couldn't imagine this guy looked anything like Billy Bob Thornton under his red suit and fake whiskers.

Shamelessly, in front of my little niece, he suggestively asked me to sit on his knee showing zero interest in the cute little girl who'd stood in line to meet him.  The poor little pet was gutted.

And puleeease, what did that idiot expect? A breathless response of "Oh my gosh Santa, you're so hot, let me get rid of these people and well go play pin-the-tail-on-the-reindeer in your grotto"?  What a lunatic.
So we rejected the photo all agreeing, that couldn't be the real Santa cos that one was a sleaze bag.

He was actually not that old a bastard underneath the beard and white brows, and that decided it, with my little girl I'm not visiting any Santa under 70 years old - the older the better. Old gentlemen Santa's know how to behave.

A week ago we were driving past a movie theatre with a costumed cartoon Santa out front.  Lucie bounced up and down in her booster seat gesturing madly; "go cuddle Christmas?"  "cuddle Santa?" but this Santa was on the other side of six lanes of one of the busiest roads on the lower north shore. So we did what all parents do in these situations: we made hasty rash promises. In fact it would be have been a much easier Santa introduction in front of a movie theatre, even with the problematic traffic logistics, than in a department store toy department geared up for Christmas shopping.

This year we're looking forward to a very special Christmas - the first one where Lucie halfway understands what the hell is going on.  Not surprising considering her preschool class has been flat out all November making decorations. Just like the retail stores; as soon as the pumpkins & witches come down, the tinsel & reindeers go up to replace them. We'll still be nursing new year hangovers when the first easter eggs roll onto supermarket shelves.

But I did find an upside to all this hype. Since we lost our latest and greatest goldfish, Piggy, feeling I couldn't cope with another funeral-by-flush (not to mention the work involved in keeping a healthy tank - yes you'd be surprised), I negotiated with Lucie that we could replace the fish tank a little Christmas Tree for her bedroom (and a plush Santa and Reindeer).  Ok I threw those in, 'cos (a) they were seriously cute and (b) it didn't seem like a fair trade to me  - a live pet and a pretty 5 litre aquarium exchanged  for a $6 tree. My conscience was bothering me. 

Did I mention that motherhood seems to inject your conscience with steroids?

Well the tree's gone down a treat ( I don't  have to clean it every week or change and condition it's water- I'm not feeding it twice a day) and Santa and Rudolf have now been on as many social outings as Dora which is saying something.

If fact Santa, Rudolf and Dora the Explorer all went to visit Santa today.
The promise was to visit David Jones, hit Santa's cave then swing by the puppet windows. But, still feeling the emotional scars of my last visit albeit about 15 years ago we put the kibosh on the department store Santa idea. Also, as my husband pointed out, how many tantrums would it cost me trying to escape the toy department after some cuddly old guy's been asking Lucie what she would like?

So I was feeling pretty clever finally deciding on a local shopping mall where Santa's sleigh was set up amongst harmless pharmacies, phone retailers and book shops.

Lucie was excited, and I was hopeful, there was only one child ahead of us and Santa was nicely aged and very polite with not an ounce of sleaze.

But as she climbed into the sleigh next to the man in red, Lucie let one rip like I've never heard before. Honestly, it was like a trumpet blast, it was epic, like she had a microphone tucked into the waist of her knickers. I think they heard it up in the food court.  So loud for such a small bum, I thought for just a second "oh god, Santa's incontinent".. until Lucie giggled and said "Mummy I did a poot!"

Fortunately childbirth has seriously impaired my ability to achieve deep levels of embarrassment so moments like this one just crack me up. Within seconds my mascara had become two black creeks trickling down my face and the photographer was hyperventilating right along with me.

When I was semi-composed again and trying to behave like a serious mummy again, I stupidly asked Lucie if she was going to sit on Santa's knee like the last little girl. Santa's mouth curled up in a worried smile; "Not sure Santa thinks that's such a good idea.." he said. 

Children with noisy bums sit next to Santa
It's a shame my little niece couldn't have called up some of her own thunder- down-under; it would have given Sleazy Santa just what he deserved.   

But for the sake of this year's lovely Father Christmas I'm just grateful it wasn't a stinker.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Food Glorious Food

Confessions of a culinarily challenged mum...

I’ve never been any great shakes in the kitchen. And, being severely culinarily challenged, spending 30 minutes with my nose in a cook-book preparing a special, nourishing and fancy looking child’s meal, to have it arbitrarily sent back to the kitchen without having been tasted is seriously un-fun. 
Is it any wonder Lucie ended up with vacuum packed organic toddler meals for so long?

As I saw it, that was 30 minutes stolen from my life twice a day each day that I wanted back.  30 minutes that could have been put to better use, like clearing up the debris after the detonation of yet another toy-bomb.  (This is how we describe what she does to the living room each night)

Now she's crazy about chops and sausages (thanks in no small part to Day Care) and…guilty confession number one - I sometimes give her warmed up chips from KFC or McDonalds to go with them.  Is that bad? 

Do I care at this point, mores the question? 
Anyway, now there’s this other problem; I don’t know if it’s the successful speech therapy, but somewhere along the line my little daughter learned the phrase "too much mummy, I'll choke!"?   
So even with her favourite foods, she takes teeny tiny mouse-sized bites of everything, while I tear my hair out by the roots. 

One night I seriously considered entering her into the Guiness Book of Records for the slowest consumption of a mini hot-dog - 50 minutes.  I thought that was the limit until she ‘chewed’ her yogurt so thoroughly a mere 80grams took another 20 minutes to disappear.

It used to be bed-time where I was held hostage, now its meal time and I use every trick in the book to get her to eat.  Guilty confession number two; TV was the most successful; (I hear gasping in the back rows).

But the old “Ok TV goes off if you don’t eat your food” worked very well – she sat at the table and ate.  I know what you’re saying; meals are family time, no entertainment, no toys, yahdah yahdah, but weekdays she’s on her own at the table, it’s boring for a little kid.  So where’s the harm if she gets the job done, uses her utensils and is still happy to sit down with family sans TV on the weekend?

I may not have convinced you but you can be smug now, because that get-out-of-jail-free-card seems to have expired.  DVD’s have music and she likes dancing very much.   

So now we have musical interludes that stretch meal-times to what seems like weeks; every few minutes she’s up and off, skipping around the room with a big grin on her face, arms flailing like a mad gypsy.

Meanwhile I shout, I plead, I threaten (sometimes I laugh- hysteria?) and as she flits back to the table and throws a fork full of food into her mouth with a meaningful nod in my direction, I glance longingly at the refrigerator where a chilled bottle waits for wine-o-clock.

On feeding fussy’s:

A wee note on cutting corners on dessert:

I have mentioned previously my trick of serving puréed veggies and fruit as a dessert.  I don’t make my own – hell no!
I use Rafferty’s Garden Organic superheros. So look for these in your supermarket, there are loads of flavours, they’re healthy, naturally sweet AND you’re getting veggies in without a fight so it ticks all the boxes.

Our biggest saviour on the food front has been her attending a really good (as opposed to the first one we sent her to) Long Day Care centre.

Sally’s Place has it’s own chef and the kids eat an enormous variety of foods including Mexican, Indian, Japanese and as a result Lucie’s so more chilled even, dare I say it, ‘experimental’ about what she eats.
Even if she is horribly, atrociously slow about it. At least we’ve moved on from the “yuck, its disgusting” phase.

So on the really tough days I don’t feel ‘so’ guilty about the Birds Eye chicken fingers (could constitute guilty confession three) or the quick-fix Super-Cheesy-Corn-Omelette for dinner (see the new fast food section), knowing she’s had good organic snacks and balanced meals cooked for her throughout the day.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

But seriously if you’re in the market for child care, after you’ve ticked all the other boxes, pay attention to the meal service, it can save you a lot of time and grief.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I need a new Birth Plan… HELLP!

A new mother once described her birth experience using the words ‘wonderful’ and ‘euphoric’ but since then I’ve often heard even gushier adjectives. 

Never has it been described as ‘I felt like a big tote bag in which several people were simultaneously rummaging for their lost car keys at the bottom’.  Or was that just mine?

Welcome to the emergency C section.

As reproductively challenged as one could be for no good reason, I was miraculously having what my obstetrician described as “a dream pregnancy”.  He made that comment on the Tuesday of my 37th week.  By Sunday I was having tubes threaded into my veins (STAT) and destined to be in hospital for the next nine days, almost half that time served in intensive care.

I’d wanted drugs on a Sunday and the only place you should ask for serious pain killing drugs on a Sunday, when you're heavily preggers, is at your maternity hospital of choice.

The nurse knocking off her shift, on hearing my complaints about the tightness and pain around my rib cage, shoved her handbag and coat away again and took me to the loos with a little jar.  She didn’t look pleased that my wee looked like Guinness, as it had for a couple of days. She took my blood pressure and looked even less pleased.

But she kept smiling as she told me I looked a bit dehydrated and I should have some fluids while I waited for the doctor, and in went those tubes before you could say “s’ok I can still drink.”

She was prepping me for theatre and loath to excite or frighten me with that news, considering my blood pressure was apparently 180 over 100, she kept the whole thing very low key.  Ducking out of the room to call my obstetrician and anaesthetist, who arrived with the speed of the armed forces at DEFCON 3, everyone was keeping it nice.

Within 45 minutes I was in OR with my scrubbed up, bewildered and not-a-little-suspicious husband, about to have my baby girl rapidly pulled out of her packaging.

Ouch much? After being zapped in the nether regions by what felt like 240 volts, twice, I was told that was just the epidural finding its way home. Let me tell you being zapped in your nether regions is seriously un-fun at any voltage, but without time to ponder that state I quickly became a big numb carry-all.

That is to say there was no feeling apart from the lingering memory of the recent genital torture (one which stays with you a surprisingly long time), and a not so gentle pushing, shoving and general rummaging below the belt.  Very strange indeed.
Fortunately when my baby was put into my arms I hardly noticed all the vulgar slurping- hoovering and espresso machine sounds coming from down there, that unseen place on the other side of the curtain. Hardly.

I did however notice my baby, unlike babies born in the movies, was all gooey like a channel swimmer covered in copious amounts of lard. I was told she needed to wear this for a day to keep warm.  And what pray tell is wrong with a nice clean bunny rug?

Anyway, we were over the moon as new parents are, little Lucie had a good sticky-beak at all the surgical staff; the way they were buzzing around and her undivided attention to them, I thought she’d get her first whiplash.

But we were only in the Maternity ward overnight when Dr Ric called and said something about moving me to the ‘special care’ unit, “nothing to worry about, just there are more nurses on staff to keep an eye on my blood pressure” because it was still ‘a bit’ high. I bought the story, my husband did not. Dr Ric said another doctor would come to see me and explain the details.

The details where this: I had a life threatening complication of pre-eclampsia – OK he didn’t tell me that in so many words (we wikipedia’d it after), what he did tell me was that I had HELLP syndrome; that my blood wasn’t clotting well, and with very high blood pressure that wasn’t a good thing considering I’d just been sliced and diced. (I’m paraphrasing here of course – no self respecting doctor would EVER say sliced and diced –not to your face anyway).

The pain that I’d come in with and had been trying to alleviate with ‘Deep Heat” was actually my liver swelling, a problem solved by the removal of my little lodger. Apparently the placenta and the rest of my body just weren’t getting along very well.

Christmas day in the Intensive Care Unit was less than festive but a vast improvement on my first couple of days, and Christmas lunch was surprisingly good. Tiny Lucie was doing fine and behaving herself so well she was allowed to stay with me and enjoy many hours of staring at the twinkling Christmas lights decorating the walls in between the scary looking equipment.

When I first got to ICU they performed a procedure called a Magnesium Protocol, which made the Epidural seem like a relaxing Thai massage. It felt like I was being cooked in a microwave oven from the inside-out with my blood boiling in my veins.

To add humiliation to injury; my first trip to the bathroom in my blood spattered backless gown was assisted by a Calvin Klein model in his twenties – they dredged up another young cutie for my second trip and after that I just tried to hold on till the nurse would let me shower.

I got my own back on them when I removed the pulse thingy from my finger to eat lunch – of course the monitor told them my heart had stopped and the SWAT team arrived before I could pick up my fork.
Eventually we were back in the maternity ward and cruising along and even having visitors. The nurses called me the “Deep Heat” girl since I’d come to hospital asking if I could use it safely and been given an epidural and baby instead.

Dr Ric marched in during one visit to tell me; “Now the panic is over I can tell you, you had me very worried for a while there,” and my visitors, a couple we know from the dog park, nearly fell out of their plastic chairs. Famous last words Doc…

As it happened the night before my intended release, having knocked over a bottle of water and leapt out of bed to catch it, (as you do) minutes later I had a blood geyser. I’d burst some stitching or an artery somewhere and the damned water bottle had landed on the floor right side up anyway.

Didn’t want water all over the hospital carpet-what an idiot! So back into the OR for this little OCBer. With my seriously impaired clotting ability and turbo charged blood pressure, it was like a scene straight out of M.A.S.H by the time I was wheeled back into the theatre. In all, I’d spilled a litre of blood. But not one drop of water – good girl!

The best thing about this little episode was the pethidine, also known as laughing gas, and did I laugh! Amongst all the blood and gore of being stitched back up again, apparently I tried to do stand up comedy (laying down) until Dr Ric told the anaesthetist he'd better shut it off, the kill-joy.

But as they say; all’s well that ends well. Not only have we all recovered with no ill effects and we have a delightful little girl in our lives. We are very blessed, and in no small way will forever be in the debt of the following people:

Dr Ric Porter (obstetrician extraordinaire and very fine stand up comedian himself) and Dr Ian Love (best bedside manner on the planet),

The lovely Nurses and staff at Mater Hospital Maternity and ICU Units,

And of course the wonderful, Lily Liu without whose needles and magical herbs I wouldn’t have taken this journey in the first place.
And finally for anyone reading this who is up the duff: If at any stage you feel pain around your torso like you’re wearing an incredibly tight bra – especially if you’re not wearing one at all; if your wee looks like Guinness; and your legs are so swollen they look like they’ve been put on upside down and your thighs are bulging out of the tops of your shoes: 

- Call your obstetrician or your maternity hospital STAT.

For more reading on Pre-Eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome try these links:

"Honey? have you seen my ankles? I cant find them anywhere..?"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When the poop hits the fan...and other embarrassing moments

There is apparently scientific evidence that getting 'knocked-up' shrinks your brain  - if that's the case then raising your offspring only makes you realise you didn't know sh*t in the first place.

I find 3-4-year-olds to be random little people with moments of cognitive brilliance peppered with episodes of psychotic, simian behaviour.

We'd had a sh*t week, quite literally, since we had a broken sewer pipe shared by all 4 Victorian terraces in our row. I found myself on Wednesday juggling a crazy child and a plumber who was dealing with a river of sewerage running down our newly paved side passage.

And while getting stuck into my new job as ‘involuntary strata manager’ led me to getting stuck into the Xanax, I had some lovely moments with my little girl as we replaced our afternoon bike ride to the park with a new stay-at-home game: 'chemical clean-up'. You know she's quite a dab-hand with a mop my girl.

So long as lots of bubbly detergent was involved she was overjoyed at the idea of swabbing the deck, which fortunately was only desecrated by the plumber's boots, while I tossed litre after litre of disinfectant, then bag after bag of top soil around the lower garden.

"What's that smell? It's disgusting!"; one of her new favourite phrases, had a lot of air-play until the disinfectant finally overpowered the previous stench.

Her speech has come along nicely, since she started with a speech pathologist; albeit sometimes embarrassingly so.  Like the time she pointed an accusing finger at an unfortunate looking elderly man in our doctors waiting room, crying “That man scares me mummy!”  I don’t know who was more mortified, me or the poor old man with the great-face-for-radio. 

And then there’s the joyful and loud descriptions of all her bodily functions: - During a speech pathology session: “I’ve got an itchy bum, Tiffany!” Both Tiffany and mum had to take a minute before being able to respond to that one, but it was quite good as far as sentences go.

And then again supervising bath time: -  on hold to one of the utilities, just as the operator finally answered, Lucie shouted in excitement “the pooh is coming mummy!”
I asked the operator if I could put her on hold while I perched my wet girl on the loo and Lucie qualified her statement, making an exaggerated grunting sound; “uuuurgh – it’s a really BIG POOH mummy!”

Someone somehow had turned up her volume. The operator was still laughing when I picked up the phone again.

And then the evening she turned political commentator: catching the early news on TV she took one look at our Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and shouted 'Go away cow!'.  

We didn’t know that Lucie needed help with talking; being in a bilingual family we expected her speech to be delayed that’s what ‘they’ say isn’t it? 

But after having her tested it turned out she did have delayed speech despite randomly using some very extravagant sentences.  (‘Go away cow’ not being one of those)

If you are in any doubt about your little wrangler I suggest you take a look at Speech Pathology Australia. You can read fact sheets online, download resources and look for practitioners in your area.  It will either give you peace of mind or set things straight before it impacts their schooling and social skills. 

We’ve made huge progress in a few short months and not just with Lucie’s communication skills but her personal confidence and interaction with other children. :0)

linking with melbourne mum

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Read My Sticky Lips

If I've learned nothing else this week, it's that dogs and lip-gloss, like pre-schoolers and shopping centres, DON'T mix.

Our long suffering mutt the heroic survivor of many attempts at being ridden, accessorised, plastered in stickers, and had pretty much every appendage pulled on (yes 'that' one too) has now been subjected to animal cosmetic testing the stuff of which beagles' nightmares are made of.

I used to work for a cosmetic company and with all the furor about these companies testing on animals It used to conjure up so many strange images for me:

Like rows of guinea pigs strapped to reclining chairs in front of stage mirrors with people in lab coats mercilessly applying blue eye shadow and caking on mascara.  All the while the guinea pigs are yelling;  "NO STOP Noooooo! Oh Lord, I look so cheap!" This picture inevitably lead me to visions of the aftermath where  the guinea pigs, having been released, are in a bathroom somewhere scrubbing their furry faces with cold cream and  balled up tissues.

I can tell you It's not so funny when you see your own animal with a panicked expression watching the approach of a fully loaded lip brush.

So that was the first and last time I bought She-Who-Worships-Pink children's, or any other kind of, lip gloss. Subtly tinted or not, it still reeks of synthetic something-not-entirely-unlike-strawberries, it's sticky, it stains the sofa with grease and upsets the dog to have plastered on his little black lips.  Maybe he's born with it - maybe its Maybeline

It was a bad idea, as was the thing it was supposed to provide a 'soft' solution for - a shopping trip with cranky child in tow.  In theory; a little treat to stave off more serious choices and avoid another epic biblical shopping centre tantrum, of course it didn't come close to working. The road to parental hell is paved with such 'theories'.

And it's like the acoustics are just too tempting anyway so she's just got to try out those lungs and test the echo.

But where shopping centres were bad enough with all those $2 rides at the foot of EVERY damned escalator, now you're tripping over toy vending machines filled with happy meal style evil plastic junk that kids love with a passion.

You need a lot of gold coins for these puppies and even If you have enough gold coins on you, just try explaining to your 3.5 year old that you can't choose which toy comes out despite the alluring display on top.

But despite the public meltdowns and the would be contradictory screech-fests, Lucie apparently loves shopping.  Well I do too, but NEVER with her along for the ride.

It was 4.45 am the next morning that I heard noises downstairs and it didn't sound like the dog having one of his vocal leg wiggling dreams. 
Dead giveaway: there was a light on too.

I found a dining chair pushed up to the wall where the light switch was and my little princess was wandering around with her rag doll in the stroller and a paper carry bag looped over the handle.

She picked up one of the dog's chew-toys and said brightly 'Hello how are you, I'll take this.'

I yawned and I must have looked confused because she qualified: : "I'm shopping! " I love shopping."
Buddy yawned too and gave me as knowing a look as a fur-face can: Read my sticky lips - NO MORE shopping trips.

linking at Mummy Mondays

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fishy Business

Our goldfish are getting into yoga in a big way - they've pretty much nailed the downward dog pose.

I asked the guy at the pet store if they should be spending so much of their time stood on their heads at the bottom of the tank and he looked worried. He said they were probably stressed - sheesh what do goldfish have to be stressed about; especially when they're yoga junkies?

The fish tank was my brain child. We had to get rid of the dummy at night, said the dentist, said the speech therapist. So I started talking up the dummy fairies and how they could turn dummies into fishes if little children could sleep without them. And how said children had to be sure because it wasn't very nice to sleep with a fish in your mouth if you changed your mind later.

So we made a schedule and on day one Lucie gave me her dummy in the morning and announced 'no more' further qualified by 'turn fishy". The dummies where all dropped into her pretty tank (which had been in her bedroom for a month waiting; teasing; fishless) and she was delighted with the two little fish that appeared, after pre-school, swimming laps.

To cut to the chase it was all going well until she tested the changing her mind theory on that first night, the second night was a breeze, and the third, then the fourth was a shocker again with night wakings every three hours or so.

Well a few weeks later things outside the tank are improving, it's in the tank I'm not sure about.

Maybe the fish are picking up on our stress; her meltdowns, the randomness of blissful sleep throughs followed by shouty all nighters. Or maybe they don't like the collection of butterfly stickers that now decorate their home? Who knows what makes a fish stressed?

I know what makes me stressed - returning to sleepless nights compounded by the fear of having to explain dead Nemo and/or Pinkie to my three-year-old, while I'm taking care of them like an ICU nurse!

Was I naive in thinking you just bought a bowl, let it sit for 48 hours then whacked in some goldfish? What's with all the rocket science? 10% weekly water replacement, water conditioners, daily stress-zyme additives and bubble blowers and after all that, not so reassuring assurances that "its really hard to keep em alive - the first 6 weeks is crucial stuff"..

They're not heart transplant patients for God's sake, they're bloody fish and it's high time they started behaving like it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nappies to knickers

A friend with a new baby told me 'you can’t get the trifecta': Feeding, Sleeping and Toilet Training. At least one has to go pear-shaped probably two.  Like when you’re single and having a great job, great apartment and great boyfriend at the same time is inexplicably impossible.

Well my darling girl was a terrible sleeper and breast feeding WAS rocket science for both of us; followed by the 'solids struggle' so my expectations on toilet training have been raised somewhat.

This project has been delayed thus far due to back to back house-guests most of last year; followed by selling our house; followed by our uber-movers throwing us into total chaos for our first month in the new house: (tools in the attic and silk dresses in the shed kind of stuff). I still haven’t found the gift I had for my afore-mentioned friend's baby shower, or importantly this week; the toddler toilet seat. I will mention at this point that all of the boxes have been unpacked, so go figure..

But my little girl has taken to this stuff like a duck to water after a bit of a rough start. I never wanted to use a potty, enrolled at the 'begin as you mean to go on' school of thought. But when push came to shove she was getting pretty pissed-off being dragged away from her art/ puzzles/ gardening/ dancing/ TV to sit on the damned toilet every 30 minutes. So we opted for the Toilet seat every hour or so and the potty in between. It's become a comfy little throne for her where she's happy to sit and watch cartoons or read, or chat with her Dinosaurs,  or just watch her own front bottom to see if anything's coming out yet.

When she does something substantial, she bends over it to inspect the outcome and every time makes the same announcement: “Yuck”.

My problem with this extra curricular activity is that I'm still finding and fixing stuff post move and organising and reclaiming spaces and doing washing and cooking and clearing up and meanwhile she's getting very independent.

So at the weekend I'm in the Laundry fixing shelves to the wall and I hear a scraping noise in the next room, I vaguely wonder if her father is still watching her, or his blackberry, and which dining chair she's chosen to take for a walk. Then I hear a splash in the toilet and I turn.  Well slay me, the little villain has done her business and decided, in the absence of adult supervision to transport her load to the toilet bowl.  She pushed the potty across the lounge, up the step past the kitchen and didn’t spill a drop, so how proud do I feel?

Now my world revolves around her bottom: washing out potty, and teeny tiny undies after accidents (of which there are thankfully very few), and replacing contraptions on the toilet after adult use that assist little people up to the big toilet.

The downstairs loo is sporting what looks like a Lego crane, the upstairs loo has a large duck for a seat. She shouts, her new favourite word; "knickers!!" with the same explosive enthusiasm her father deploys for Arsenal's goals.

But apart from the odd setback, usually followed by a trailing bath towel held firmly between her legs for the preceding hour, this new idea of self toileting seems to have awakened an independent streak a mile long.

So I “left” her on the potty again (she actually wouldn’t come off) while I went to dig through the laundry which has been buried in tools and other flotsam since we moved 3 months ago.

I got side tracked when I found a leg from our sofa on top of the washer, remembering that the uber-movers had either knocked or pulled off most of the legs and there was actually only one attached to the thing.

Somehow after upending the sofa and screwing all the legs on, side-tracked again, I end up in the upstairs bathroom digging my Philips-head at something else, when along walks a little half naked girl carrying a warm potty to the toilet bowl to empty it.

I note how carefully she’s clutching it to her chest so she won’t spill it - and then there’s that random step down to the bathroom that none of us have quite gotten the hang of yet...

Many thanks to Knappy Knickers for this beautiful photo of Ollie and his little friend. 
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