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Archive for October, 2010

I have to admit that I went on my recent Ikea junket with a hidden agenda: find the rudest sounding Ikea product name.

After fifteen minutes of being led through the story by my charming guide Mark, I blurted out my agenda.

“Oh, great!” he said, rubbing his hands together with glee. “My favourite one is just around the corner…”

And he led me to a DUMBASS wardrobe – although it was ostensibly spelt DOMBÅS. I knew then that I was in good hands.

I was there to learn about the Ikea Family, the loyalty program recently launched here in Australia. Oh, and to receive my Ikea goody bag, which didn’t disappoint, not least because it contained a complimentary bottle of Glügg. Yes, Glügg! For the record: I’m still unsure of what, exactly, Glügg is, but I expect that there will be a Glügg Occasion at my 40th birthday party, some time after 4am when the wine’s run out.

A few things I learnt about the Ikea Family:

  • It’s free to join and you can join online from the comfort of your own home or in-store at your next visit.
  • If you forget your card or your small child has played 52 pick-up with the contents of your wallet back in the car, you can print yourself out a temporary one in-store.
  • Swiping your card at the checkout earns you savings on a host of different products throughout the store – most are ongoing and with a few “limited time only” offers thrown in for good measure.
  • Every time you use or swipe your card in-store, Ikea donates 10c to charity and somewhere someone opens another bottle of Glügg (OK, so I made that last bit up).
  • Your purchase is insured from store to home which is good news for people who do things like drive into a low multi-storey carparks, completely forgetting they have new roof racks on their car – should such people exist.
  • Ikea’s usual 90 day return policy is extended to 365 days for Ikea Family members. Ikea’s policy is generous, according to my guide Mark. You can return something as long as it is in “re-sellable” condition and with its original packaging.

“So!” I piped up, when Mark shared this last point with me. “Let’s just say someone who was about to turn 40 – don’t know who – bought a whole heap of garden furniture and party lights – for example – and then discovered a few days after they’d turned 40 that they actually need it any more?”

Mark, thinking I wasn’t serious, laughed and told me a story about once selling a man 148 folding chairs and then seeing him the following week trying to return them, each with a little bit of grass on the bottom of their legs.

That chair-returning man was a loser. I totally would have crocheted little booties for the chairs to protect them from the grass. You know, with my non-existent crocheting skills – the same non-existent crocheting skills that I plan to use one day to crochet my friend Mrs Woog a merkin. What’s more, I would have given those crocheted chair booties a fabulous Ikea name like KNUBBIG (which is actually the name of an Ikea table lamp and looks a little like BIG KNOB, tee hee hee. I hope it comes with ANSLUTA power cord connection. A SLUTTER, geddit?).

Anyway, Mark, if you ever see someone trying to return 148 folding chairs and the Ikea Dodgy Returns Crime Lab picks up acrylic wool fibers on the base of their legs, it’s fair to say that the perpetrator got the idea here.

Also, if there’s a sudden rush on Glügg, you’ll know who to thank.

Glügg!

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You know that saying that you never really know what goes on inside a relationship? I think my husband and I are a sterling example of this. Few people have any idea what goes on inside our marriage and it’s likely that they don’t really want to know.

But I’m going to tell everyone anyway.

Back in the day, when ‘Lost’ hadn’t become completely incomprehensible and was still shown in a reasonable time slot, my husband and I would sit down of a Thursday night to watch it.Well, I would watch it and my husband would just sit and tut and let out exasperated sighs as if to say “Could this show be any stupider?” but strangely never ever took my suggestion to go and spend his time doing something else.

Secretly, I suspect he loved Lost and wanted to kiss it on the lips.

Not so secretly, I knew he was waiting for Troy to come on. You know, Troy Ellis the guy who does the Powerball draw.

Oh, how we both loved Troy. We loved him more than we loved Vanessa O’Hanlan who did the helicopter traffic report on Sunrise and who (almost) inspired us to have t-shirts made up to say “The O’Hanlan”. We loved Troy because he was the consummate professional  – unlike Gavin, who filled in for Troy one night and read out one of the numbers incorrectly.

(Poor Gavin. He really blew his one chance at fame. As that urban poet, Eminem, once said “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow/ This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo!” Gavin, you sure did blow but not in the way Eminem intended. And no, not in the way you are thinking. Sheesh.)

We would often tell tales of Troy trying to blag his way into A-list events, that time he tried to date The O’Hanlan and how he would meet Gavin down at the Bingo night at the local RSL where they would take over the microphone and start shouting out random numbers (Gavin would still get the random numbers wrong. Poor Gavin.)

We would even sing songs about Troy. There was Toni Childs’ 1988 hit Stop Your Fussin’ (“Stop your fussin’, Troy/ stop your fussin’, Troy/ your time will come… yes, your time will come…”), Deniece Williams Let’s Hear It For The Troy!, The Cure’s Troys Don’t Cry – all sung using the vocal stylings of Toni Childs, of course. (Of course!)

We even thought of starting a Troy tribute band called ‘Troy Division 5’.

This wasn’t our first collaborative venture. In 1999, we came up with a successful marketing campaign for ‘Clipper Organic Teabags’ with a jingle and everything. By “successful”, it meant we bought at least two more packets of the stuff so we could keep singing the jingle.

And then there was this radio ad we wrote for Bondi Junction (in Sydney):

VOICE ONE: (broad Australian accent) Come and have a cup of cino and a cruss-ont at…
VOICE TWO: (heavy French accent) … Le Jonction!

Of course these days, we no longer watch Channel 7 on a Thursday night. My husband now has a proper job and I have this blog to entertain me (I have many Hugh Jackmans to befriend on Facebook, don’t you know!).

Sadly, Troy is no longer the centrepiece of our marriage…. Although, if Channel 7 wanted us to write a pilot for a sit-com called ‘Gavin and Troy’, we’d be willing to reinstate him…

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Imagine being one of the Chilean miners still waiting to be rescued from the mine and getting a message from one of the guys who’d been already rescued saying  “Enjoy yourself down there while you can! Above ground is sooooo overrated and there’s nothing on TV tonight,  anyway.”

Well, that’s how a little how it felt when I was wrangling a wailing newborn and a shouty toddler at the supermarket and some random stranger would pat me on the arm and say “Enjoy the baby years, love. They go past in a flash!”

(It should be noted that generally, the kind of people who offered such advice, would have just spent their life savings on a Winnebago so they could enjoy their grandchildren at a healthy 400km+ distance. Whatevs.)

Still, here I am, actually standing on the other side of that long dark tunnel called “The Baby Years”. The moment Tiddles McGee turned three, it was like someone handed me a large martini and said “Enjoy yourself.” Well, it was more like “Enjoy yourself a little more than you have been enjoying yourself”. There’s still the early mornings and the washing and the cooking and the laundry and the dishes and the picking up of toys and the perpetually unsolved mystery of the odd socks – but everybody can wipe their own bums now and (mostly) sleep through the night, even if they often do so a mere 1cm from my face, holding onto my ears. (That’s my Tiddles McGee for you).

And now it feels like I was never in that ‘dark place’. That place where days lasted years and I thought I might never wear an item of clothing that wasn’t either stained with hindmilk or had an elastic waistband that came up to my armpits. That place where the idea of ever being able to walk across a room without a small child clinging to my leg seemed impossible and where three hours of unbroken sleep was the greatest gift I could ever be given and would make me weep openly with gratitude.

But it was also a place where gummy smiles were my bestest reward and my days were punctuated by unbridled laughter and the kind of joy that banging an empty plastic bottle on a table can give a little person. A place where small arms automatically reached out to me the minute I walked into view because, to my children, I shone brighter than the sun and they were only truly happy when they were safe in my arms.

So yes, random strangers at the supermarket, you were right. Those baby years really did pass by in a flash. And I do wish I had stopped and enjoyed them a little more — and not least because I can see a flashing sign coming up in the distance saying “WARNING: TEENAGE YEARS AHEAD”…

Oh, shit.

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Today, I have the great pleasure of giving away a copy (or two) of ‘Cocktails At Naptime‘, by Gillian Martin and Emma Kaufmann. Described as “a woefully inept guide to the early years of motherhood”, it also boasts itself as being the only parenting guide that doesn’t offer any actual advice.

To have a chance at winning a copy, please leave a comment below describing the most useless or annoying advice to a new parent that you’ve ever heard. The winner will be drawn randomly on Friday 22nd October at 2pm AEST (or thereabouts).

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