Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The subtle art of avoiding avoidance

Here is the thing, I am trying to get some work done.  Not piffly, "that would be nice but whatever" work like the gardening.  But real, "if I get my splintered mind together someone may actually pay me" work.

Arrrrggggg.  Avoidance.  What a blot.  My life conspires to distract me and I am aiding and abetting it.

When I was young I used to do the usual amateur night things - drinking too much coffee, creating weirdo hairstyles and cleaning out the sock drawer when I was supposed to be studying for exams.

This is not me playing with hairstyles - it is how my hair looks if I ignore it.  Just joshing. Not me at all.

Aside from my ongoing caffeine addiction, the vanity of the long-haired monsters and the proliferation of sock drawers within my realm of responsibilities, I have 10,000 new ways to distract myself, things that need doing and have a reasonable claim upon my time.  Things like:
  • ensuring the fire hose of fresh food flows through the house
  • doing reading with children and otherwise supervising homework (do you know how many animals begin with X - several in fact, but only if you look them up on the internet because there are none in the 3 dictionaries I checked - I know, I know, what was I doing with a printed reference source - sooo pre-wikipedia)
  • caring whether the 453 brown marks on the girls legs are bruises or smears of dirt from falling off the monkey bars (I am looking at you, spaghetti-arms)
  • occasionally removing the 424 specimens that turn out to be dirt
  • getting exercise, because that may actually contribute to the work
  • getting the children to clean their rooms - surely one of the most pointlessly difficult tasks among the pantheon of human endeavor
  • picking long and convoluted recipes that are a pain to shop for and more pain to cook, especially later in the week when even takeaway is looking pretty good because you never did buy that rocket and if you never open the pan drawer again it will be a relief, especially as one of the sloth girls jammed the frying pan in so badly that getting the drawer open is going to be a considerable topological puzzle
  • starting new novels at 9.45 at night and then finishing them (oops - not sure I can put that one in this list - note to self - start a new list of avoidance activities that are unsaleable as needing doing - call list "Things I like to do if only I could relax and spend my life playing about like a monkey in a fruiting tree")
  • reading notices from the school, because tomorrow is cross country running day and if I had ordered the special morning tea from the canteen before the cutoff two days ago, my children would be joining the 5 million others lining up for their biscuit and milk instead of gazing at the bruised fruit and bottle of warm water sludging around their lunchboxes.  Meh.  Let them eat fruit.  They will probably get dragged off with asthma attacks half way around the course so morning tea will be a moot point.
Anyway, before I get too crabby, there are lots of avoidance options available.  Which to choose?

I know, I will write a blog.  That is sure to help.

Friday, March 22, 2013

On my list of things to do and other fantasies.

On my list of things to do is to trim the grasses that line the path at the front of the house.  I am not sure if I got what I expected.  I was hoping for a neat avenue of grasses around 3-4 foot high tickling up to the path and inviting people to the house.  I was also hoping for plants without any overly fussy care needs, like water. 

Sadly, I seem to have gotten the wrong ones.  They are over 7 foot.  If you use the path after rain or dew you pretty well need to be in a wet suit.  On the up side, during some horrific heat waves this summer where many of the dry-land plants were starting to collapse in desperation, the grasses just kept their stalks up and waited it out.

So, in the absence of several hundred smackeroos or a propagating fest to replace the dear things, I thought I would give them a hair cut and just manage their legginess with regular trims.  (Cue dark, sarcastic chuckle.)

I intended to do this about a year ago.  No action so far.*

On the up side, they do make a nice swishy wave when the wind blows.  A recent rearrangement of the lounge means I can sit on the sofa and watch them swoosh, spreading their seeds about the garden with the clear intent of total domination - kind of like triffids but with less lethality and propensity to wait around for your corpse to decompose.

*I like to think that a recent (weeeeellll, three years ago) accident with the secateurs involving a fast doctor visit, a tetanus injection, a week of dressing changes and a course of antibiotics is a contributing factor to my trimming sloth

Thursday, March 21, 2013

An axe-murderer cat is a good cat.

A couple of weeks ago the cat had a crisis.  What started as an abcess turned out to be a difficult UTI with a side order of rat poison.

She spend a week under the bed, creeping out with horrifying frequency to wee blood and nibble a little food (thankfully, the stuff laced with medicine).  We did not know if the little poof was going to make it.  She misplaced 20% of her weight including all her body fat.  She was a sad little bag of bones.

Then, one Sunday night, she disappeared under the bottom of the curtain.  Suddenly, her little furry mug peered out with Jack Nicholson's expression on her face - the one from the Shining where he has just gone through the door with the axe.

"Ah, thank goodness", I sighed.  "The cat has recovered."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sometimes you make the right decision

The husb. used to have a thing for ludicrously coloured soft drink.  All his favourites looked like they were waste water from either a nuclear reactor or a dehydrated cat.  After we had the first girl I suggested he give it up before she got to 8 months because I sure as heck didn't want to know what happens when you give babies luminous green colouring.  He agreed with sad reluctance and reverted to lemon cordial.

When our oldest girl was 2ish she asked why she couldn't have cordial.  Some rapid dissembling later, "Not til you are five" we said, thinking that was eons away.  Then in a twinkling she was five and we wished we had chosen 42 like we did with alcohol.  So then we had to use the arbitrary parental power to make up a new rule - one glass on Saturday and one on Sunday only.  Ha ha, take that small sugar-lover.

In contrast, with birthday parties we got it right.  One party per monster each every two years -  take it or leave it.  As a parent of two this means I have to organise one a year but that is only 1/2 the pain of two a year.

Other parents seem quite shocked about this.  They do one rain or shine every year and twice in leap years, it seems.  "Meh", I say.  I only had about 2 parties when I was a kid.  I don't remember being overly scarred by it.  I bet most of the other mothers were the same.  Why the heck do the little buggers need one every year now?  Why, why, I ask you?

In any case the deed is done for the year.  Eggs were dropped off spoons, celebrity heads were guessed (with some pretty broad clues) and the grass was soft enough for three-legged crashes.  It is interesting how some children are utterly focussed at winning party games and others are ho-hum-ish.

This is nothing like the cake I made.  Imagine how bloody loopy some kids would get after a bit.  You would want to put them in the boot to take them home. 
One four year old girl polished off a whole slice of brie, which was probably a good thing as she only weighs about 13 kg (possibly 14 now).   One of the 7 year olds kept coming back for giant hand fulls the BBQ chips til they were gone (good thing I didn't get Cheezels or it would have been me).

Another 4 year old was constantly outsmarting his father to return to the plate of lollies.  He would be back every 90 seconds, his father would say "No more", the boy would circle away, move carefully out of his father's eye-line and be back for another.  Sneaky and effective - I predict a big future for that boy as long as he is not done for insider trading.

I was a bit surprised at our girls.  We only buy chips once or twice a year and rarely have lollies.  After an initial nibble of the rarities, the girls seemed to return to their usual food - the fruit took a hard hit.

All in all it went well and I have made a big decision - in 15 months time, when the little monster turns 7, I am letting the husband organise the lot.  He had better start practising cake-making.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tickity tick tick

Make chocolate cake filled with firm but satisfying chocolately goodness (and some sour cream) - Tick

Make orange butter frosting and apply to cake in three layers - Tick

Send children to denude small camellia of leaves, wash then paint leaves with chocolate ready for peeling and adding to top of cake - Tick

Assembly of riduculous masks to be used as blindfolds, directing children to decorate same  - Tick

Return of some semblence of sanity without addressing unlying issues -  Tick

Friday, March 15, 2013

How dull is that - I posted about socks.

We have a birthday party on Sunday.  Not much preparation has taken place so far.  I am praying to the gods of dirty floors (The Great Purple Fluff and Oh Mystery Stain) against rain because it is due to take place in a park and the thought of having to clean the house to have the party here is alarming.

Any moment now I am going to leap up and make the birthday cake.  I just have to get over the trauma of cleaning the loos.  Sometimes monsters are truly monstrous.

I think I may have developed an allergy to being a stay at home parent.  The thought of not being responsible for cat litter purchasing or choosing celebrity heads that 7 year olds will know fills me with insane joy.

What I need is a wife.  It is a pity I opted for a great galumphing husb. instead.

Later - apologies.  I have no idea how that grumpy bastard escaped. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eke, eke, eke.

The girls changed schools this year which meant new school uniforms.  Further, the new school has a stricter approach to uniforms.  At the last one, if you wore the right colour t-shirt it was considered close enough.  And frankly, they weren't all that fussy on the shade, style, or degree of fadedness.  Nice!

Sadly, we are at a low ebb, financially.  This begs the question: how do you afford summer and winter school clothes for two girls who grow like topsy?  Just to make things worst, there are no hand-me-down options around here.  If the younger one doesn't slow down and the older one doesn't hurry up, the 5 year old may be able to start passing things to her 7 year old sister when she has grown out of them.  As things stand they are mostly the same size.

I got a running start at the school fete last year when I purchased a number of 2nd hand items for $2 each.  Sadly, being inexperienced in the uniformy arts (see vague-o t-shirt requirements, above), I assumed I needed to purchase uniforms in the size they wear in normal clothes.

It turns out uniforms are sized differently.  The appropriate summer dress size for my girls is 7 (which is refreshing because one of them is 7 and the other is a human string bean), whereas I usually buy around 9 or 10 for them.  The result is that most of the bargains may be OK in a year or two but at the moment are cupboard cloggers.

Much as I hate it like the plague (nobody wants buboes buggering up the line of their pants), I took in the waist of 17 million pairs* of skorts to get the girls through summer.  This is not happening with winter pants because I refuse point blank to take up legs as well as waists.  As I get paid $20 a week from consolidated revenue, I am definitely not getting enough for that sort of malarky.

So, as Autumn tickles along (only in theory so far with a sustained balmy stretch) I have been thinking of how to eke out the summer gear.  To this end I purchased some long socks.  Maybe that will keep the little devils going for a while before the hard frosts start to turn their knees blue.

*Some exaggeration may have slipped in at this point but if you were trying to push a needle through 4 layers of cotton drill that was so tightly woven it may as well be carbon fibre sheeting, you would be bitter too. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why I dislike major public events.

1. The food.  If you are going to organise catering in a tent, where you have to be able to serve, conservatively, 600 meals an hour (that is 10 plates of food every minute), the likelihood that the food you are serving is going to have been kept cold enough during transit and storage, and heated to a high enough temperature not to give you a roaring bottom is low. What is more, I do not want to queue for an hour to play gastro-roulette with something that is surprisingly expensive given the coating of cheese-like substance that bears a closer resemblance to erasers than a dairy product.

2. Surreal street theatre. Now personally, I like a gaggle of angels dancing around, riding tricycles, then getting all stressed out when one of them strips to an overly hairy body-stocking and runs away from attempts to re-dress him by his angel cohorts.  Sadly the children find this confusing.  It seems it is difficult for children to process that someone would pay a group of people to dress up and attempt silliness at a public event with no particular audience except whoever is around at the time.

I once went to an event where there were demonstrations of different types of dances.  There was a group of Morris dancers who broke out into jingly, hanky floofing, knee wiggling splendor during a number of time in the afternoon but only if they could find a spot where there were very few possible watchers.  Chronically shy Morris dancers seems odder to me than hirsute stripper angels.

3. Noise. Call me old and grumpy but I don't like sound systems that make your ears hurt.  Just think how much grumpier I am going to get when I am actually old - bet you can't wait.

4. The toilets.  Probably most of what I have to say on this topic is covered in Kenny, a film about corporate toilet rental.  I prefer to put my 2-lumpy-pregnancy-addled pelvic floor to the test rather than chance fate in a high-usage rental convenience.*

I will leave you with a quote from that august piece of film-making:

     "There's another classic example of someone having a two inch arsehole and us having installed
       only one inch piping."

* Though I do remember having to make significant amendments to my "I am not going there" rule when I was pregnant.  Put it this way, I am never intending to urinate in the toilet block behind the Geranium** hall again.

** "Geranium is a town with 60 residents, and has a hall, two churches, a store, a garage, extensive sporting facilities*** and the only other bowling green in the area make it an important local centre, and an attractive township for farmers to retire to."

*** This may be an exaggeration.  For those who understand the significance of this, Geranium is too small to have a football team in the local Mallee League.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How to make a cat fly.

If you spend several hours in the evening vomiting so hard you sound like you are possessed by demons, so hard that your child wakes up and comes out of her room dragging her entire bedding for comfort and your husband has to put her back to bed while you battle the dark adversary in the loo, then you finally fall asleep with your light on and your bucket beside you because you never know when your last vomit will be, and your husband sleeps at the foot of the bed because only a madman would sleep next to a vomit wife, and you are half awoken at 4 am by a gentle tinkling of bells by your pillow and in a millisecond you realise your cat is about to use your head as a launching off point to catch a moth up the wall attracted by your bedside light, and if, in that groggy split second, you swipe the cat and she goes flying across the bed, over your husbands feet, and wipes everything off your husband's bedside table so that he has to get up to pick up his clock radio, and the cat limps off grumpily, and you turn off your light and it takes you an hour to get back to sleep because you have a sore tummy and back where your muscles have had the unaccustomed work of emptying you out down to your toes, then it is really the cat's fault - not the vomit but the swipe.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And then a miracle occurred

My little monster started school this year.  Organisation is not her strong suit and the first couple of weeks have been marked by exhaustion and buckling under the pressure of getting ready to attend.

Many is the day where we have been scrabbling to get out the door, with me slapping on sun screen and brushing hair and ordering her to pick up her shoes and socks and put them on in the car.

The worst days are the ones where she has to empty the dishwasher before getting dressed.  We are talking here about someone who works one fork at a time, pausing between each item to sing a tune and possibly wriggle a little dance.  Occasionally, a full ballet breaks out.

The dear husb. has been working on the dishwasher front.  He spent a week showing her short cuts (say, three forks at a time), and generally gingering her up.

I have been organising the carrot and stick collection.

I have made a poster (with pictures) for the fridge that lists the morning tasks in order.  I have come down hard on either monster getting out toys and playing with things before the list is complete.  I have explained several million times that if she doodles around during getting ready time, she will not have any play time at the end.

I also try  to finish my tasks early enough to be ready to play before we leave.

Slowly, with a number of leaps backwards, we are seeing improvement.  Some days we leave the house 10 minutes before ETD and goof around outside: shooting some hoops; swinging on the swing; and getting the school uniform nice and muddy.  Other days, we leave early and take some of the journey to school on foot, pausing to compare opinions about people's garden plants.

It is like a miracle.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Saw giant fish, fell down a drain

On Saturday night we did something we rarely do.  We went out with the monsters after their bedtimes.  There is an event on around here where they pick a bunch of largely white public buildings and light them up with beautiful projections.

This is a library.

We thought we were going to send 1/2 the party.  The little (ignoring leg length) one gets tired and she was doubtful as to whether she wanted to go.  It was also surprisingly chilly for the second day of Autumn.  As is often the case, the process of the husb. and sibling preparing was too much for her finely tuned sibling rivalry so we all joined in.

While I did nag them into warmer clothes (another 5 minutes of my life I will never see again) I did not achieve optimal results.  The wind was fairly bitey so the little (yes, I know she is a giant among 5 year olds) one was cold and whiney.  I donated my coat to her which she wore as a fetching full length dress.

The actual doings involved wandering around paths between a group of public buildings going "ooh", and occasionally "ahhh".  There was a dark bit and a hill between some of the sites.  The husb. and one girl went over and tired girl and I went around.  The path was dark and crowded so I walked on the edge with the drain.  One piece of drain cover was in fact missing so in I went.  Just one leg but it was not very pleasant.

By the time I said "thanks I am fine" to some nice women who were worried I had broken my leg, assembled myself and the girl, bolted around the hill to meet the others, found someone in charge and taken them back to the hole so they could stop other lucky souls falling in, and met the family back at the car, it was not as pleasant and relaxing as it might have been.  

Also, I now have a lovely bruise.

The fish were good though, as were the choreographed, illuminated stilt walkers.

The buildings were beautiful and the whole things suggests there will be a time in the future where we can actually go out after 7.30 pm.  Whoo hoo!