Archive for the ‘And introducing…’ Category

I have often said that when Tiddles McGee turned three years old, it was like we turned a corner and found some remnants of our old “pre-children” lives waiting there. Life suddenly seemed full of possibilities again…

Now that he’s turned four, however, we seem to have turned another corner – and found a puppy waiting for us there, wagging her tail and with one of my perfect red shoes already in her mouth.

I’ve only got myself to blame. You see, I have also often said “We can’t get a puppy until Tiddles turns four.” It seemed a safe enough thing to say when he was two, for example. Or even three. But when it was a week before his fourth birthday? Not so safe. I should have set the goal posts further away – fourteen or, better still, forty-four – but I was only echoing what the experts said. Stupid experts. They really should know better.

I tried to put the kids off, saying it’d be better to wait until Christmas (and such) but then my husband started in on me, too.

“If we don’t buy the puppy today, I’ll then be away for work for two weeks and then it’ll be practically December and every man (and his dog) will want a puppy for Christmas and we’ll have missed out all together,” he whined.

The general gist was that if I didn’t let him go out and buy a puppy At That Very Moment, we’d never ever get a dog and the kids would blame me, like, FOREVER. I was in the midst of pre-party “planning” so I just agreed with him so we could go back to talking about the important stuff, such as where to hang the disco ball and why I couldn’t find any coloured stockings that weren’t “Tangerine Explosion” in the local Coles.

Of course, when he took me to see the dog he’d found, I fell in love with her.

“You fell in love with the cat, too,” my dear friend KT warned me. “And look how that turned out.”

“Well, I didn’t know that the cat was going to grow up to be homicidal!” I exclaimed. Of course, as I’ve admitted before, calling him Genghis Cat instead of, say, Fluffy Fluffkins of Fluffville Manor, may have contributed to this a little.

So here I am. With a puppy. She’s half-Staffy, half-Jack Russell and 100% Love. And her name is Roxy.

(An aside: I thought Roxy was a safe enough choice until KT started singing a song from ‘Chicago’ that reminded me that ‘Roxie’ was a fame-hungry murderer. I’m hoping the ‘y’ instead of the ‘ie’ will make all the difference, frankly.)

In the days leading up to Roxy’s arrival, people took great pleasure in telling me how having a puppy was like having a baby in the house. And when she first came home, I cried alternate tears of happiness and of grief and had to have a Little Lie-Down shortly afterwards.

But then there I was the very next day, showered, fully-dressed, drinking a hot cup of coffee and about to leave the leave the house – WITHOUT THE PUPPY – and I thought “There’s no way in fuck this is like having a baby.” And I simply stopped panicking.

As for Tiddles McGee, whose birthday was a little hijacked by Roxy’s arrival, and who had the unnerving experience of opening a big cardboard box and finding a living creature inside instead of, say, a Kung Zhu Battle Hamster Ninja Training Ground Dragon Alley U-Turn set… Well, all I can say is he’s stopped hassling me for television quite so much when his siblings are at school and I regularly hear him saying to her stuff like “Would you like cheese, Gromit?” in his best Yorkshire accent and “Let’s get on my pirate ship, puppy. You can be my pirate dog!”.

Yes, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship… for all of us. Except for my shoes and the distinctly murderous cat, that is.

Happy Birthday, Tiddles-McGee-Who-Is-No-Longer-Three

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So, it’s official. We have a NEW CAR to replace The Love Bus, now dearly departed (see “The Long Journey Home“). This is the first time I have ever experienced this NEW CAR feeling. By the time I got my license to drive in the winter of 2007, The Love Bus had already been with us for over a year, and around for at least 20 years previous to that. This NEW CAR is not only NEW to us, it’s also NEW within this decade. That’s worth the capitalisation of NEW CAR, wouldn’t you say?

My NEW CAR joy, however, has been somewhat dampened by the extreme pain I’ve been experiencing following my little oral surgery “holiday” (see “Result“). Some holiday that turned out to be. I can bet, though, that my oral surgeon is thanking his lucky stars that I have had that NEW CAR feeling to distract me. So, instead of marching into his office and kicking him where it hurts so he can experience just a small taste of the pain I’ve been in, all I’ve done has been to mutter vaguely on twitter about dropping the words “fuck” and “arse clown” into my next exchange with him (as in “I’m in fucking pain, you arse clown”).

[For the record, when I did actually ring “Dr Nick”, he was extremely dismissive about my complaints. “Oh, that’s just muscular,” he said, after I’d explained how I felt like I’d had to squint directly into harsh sunlight while being forced to smile for the camera and repeatedly slapped on my right cheek for 24 hours straight.]

[Also: I have a theory that while I was sedated, Dr Nick and his anaesthetist made me their Ventriloquist Bitch and video-taped me for hours doing a testimonial for their upcoming late-night infomercial by squeezing my cheeks together repeatedly and making me appear to say stuff like “Even when I’m heavily sedated, I am extremely happy with the services of Dr Nick and Associates”. Or that they tried to fit a whole basketball in my mouth as part of some kind of sick bet and then posted their results on YouTube. Either way, I really can’t explain the “muscular” pain, otherwise. Or why people keep recognising me on the street.]

Anyway, the NEW CAR came to us with its own name. Because it is a Mitsubishi “Starwagon”, we have rather imaginatively named it “The Star Wagon”. 

Other than being NEW, The Star Wagon has other some other qualities to recommend it:

For one thing, it is white. Just like the A-Team Van. Except that the A-Team van was actually black. Whatever.  From certain angles, it might even be taken for a “light commercial” vehicle. The Mild-Mannered Lawyer, in particular, was impressed with its “loading zone potential” and my husband and I are currently looking into buying some magnetised Australia Post signage to slap on its side when we need a handy parking spot. But don’t tell anyone. 

Also, it has “walk-through” from the front seats through to the back. I think this particularly excites my husband because the next time the kids won’t quit their jibba jabba, he can shout at them “Don’t make me come back there!” and it will actually mean something. Because he can. Go back there. Using the power of the walk-through.

It has a “vacation stripe” down both sides. 

It hasn’t broken down (yet). 

It is NEW.

On the downside, it lacks a certain “personality”. When Mistress M first saw it, she exclaimed “It looks great! But it’s not very ‘you’…”. Which suggested that The Love Bus had been “me” and made me wonder what part of “unreliable 80s throw-back champagne-coloured rust-bucket on wheels” she was referring to. And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say anything right now. 

Anyway, as wise friend LSK pointed out, “too much personality in a car can be a bad thing.” Just as Dr Nick is about to find that too much personality in a patient can also a bad thing, if my pain doesn’t disappear by our appointment on Monday. Which, also for the record, I will be driving to in my NEW CAR.

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There’s not much to speak of in the small country town that my mother lives in. We shall call this small dot on the map “Blinkton” because – yep, you guessed it – if you blinked you would be forgiven for thinking you’d just passed one of those mysterious roadside “weighbridges” that always have a “WEIGHBRIDGE CLOSED” sign just before them. For the record: I have yet to see a weighbridge actually open in this State. I mean, aren’t any of the truckies watching their weight any more?

Anyway, Blinkton does have a pub and that is all a town really needs to be considered a town. For one thing, how many weighbridges have you seen with a pub? Although, arguably, the one weighbridge that does have a pub is probably the only weighbridge on the planet with a “Weighbridge Open” sign. 

ANYWAY, the other night my husband took The Pixie down to the Blinkton Pub (not the weighbridge) to pick up some fish and chips on the aptly named “Fish And Chips Night”. When The Pixie grew fearful about all the “big men” in the front bar, he took her to the dining room to wait for the food. 

Their conversation went something like this:

THE PIXIE: Daddy, why are there so many big men in that other room?

MY HUSBAND: They like to meet together and drink some beer.

THE PIXIE: (looking up) What’s that?

MY HUSBAND: Oh, it’s a disco ball for when they have parties here.

THE PIXIE: Do the men come here to dance with each other when they’ve finished drinking beer?

MY HUSBAND: (spluttering into his beer) Uh, maybe. 

When my husband relayed this conversation to me later, it was only natural that the concept of the “Blinkton Men’s Association Disco Dance Party” be born.

It was a concept that fortified me considerably, I must say. After all, walking into a front bar full of 40-something blokes drinking copious amounts of beer can be a bit intimidating. But imagining them all kicking off their shoes and dancing the light fantastic? Well, it’s as good as that age-old advice to imagine the audience naked when public speaking. Of course, in my case, I was always imagining them to be naked and jelly-wrestling. But perhaps that’s just me and my comfort zone. 

Anyway, we’re slowly unraveling the mysteries of Blinkton with every successive visit there. The day after the fish and chips night, my husband mentioned he’d walked past the Anglican church and it looked like it hadn’t been used for a very long time.

“I thought they had a service there once a month?”, I said. “And what’s more, I thought you told me that.”

“That was the Presbyterian church!” my husband replied. “There’s a huuuggge difference between an Anglican church and a Presbyterian church, my darling.”

And he gave the kind of laugh that was the equivalent of saying “Now don’t you go worrying your pretty little head about such things and go get me a beer instead”.

So I decided to call him on it. 

“What is the difference?” I asked. 

“That’s easy!” he told me. “Presbyterians have presbyteries.”

“And what’s a presbytery?”

“Uh, I don’t know.”

A long silence fell upon us, after which I spoke, at first hesitantly, and then with growing confidence. 

“Um, I think that, er,  the main difference is that Presbyterians frown a bit more than the average, uh, Anglican. As a general rule… You know, just sayin’… Oh, and Presbyterians are far less likely to dance the Macerana at the Blinkton Men’s Association Disco Dance Party. And they’re probably the ones behind the closure of all those damn weighbridges.”

Yep, I think I got it in one.

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Some people have written to me complaining that my husband has been unreasonably objectified by only ever being referred to as “my husband” in this blog and not being endowed with a charming nom de guerre like the rest of my family and friends. 

And, of course, by “some people”  I mean “no people” – but look, it was just a way of opening this post, okay?

Still, even if someone had written in complaining about that, they would be raising a fair point (and look, it’s too late to write in now, the point has been made. Let. It. Go.). In other blogs, I have seen the husbands referred to things such as “The Gate Keeper”, “The Donor”, “Him Outdoors” and “What’s-His-Face”. I guess my defence is that my husband is so many things to me it would  be impossible to sum him up with any other name than “my husband”. 

But if you really insist, here are a few alternatives I came up with:

1. The Enigma

The other day I caught my husband laughing at something. I asked him why and he said “You really don’t want to know”. But because he said I didn’t want to know, it made me want to know all the more. So I pushed him for an answer.

“Oh, I was just thinking of wearing a fez to breakfast.”

Why??” was my immediate response.

“You asked!” he said. “Up til then it was still in my head so it wasn’t ready yet.”

Ready for what, I’ll never know. Perhaps that’s for the best. 

2. My Rock

They say behind every blogger is a tolerant partner. My husband really is very tolerant and, indeed, supportive of my writing. Just the other day, I decided to get up at 5am every morning to write.

“That’s what Hemingway did.” said my husband. “And look what happened to him.”

“He got a Nobel Prize for Literature?” I asked.

“Well, yes. But he also became a cantankerous old man who nobody liked.” my husband said. “And then blew his brains out with a shotgun.”

Uh, thanks. 

3. The PICTAAECH (“The Person I Can Talk To About Anything, Even Cat Homosexuality”)

Recently we discovered that Genghis Cat has found himself a girlfriend a few doors up from our house and it warmed the cockles of our heart. 

“Does it make you feel less guilty about having had him castrated?” I asked my husband.

“It probably be better if he found himself a boyfriend,” my husband replied. “With a girlfriend he’d need fully operational breeding tackle, but in a same-sex arrangement, he could get away without.”

Followed by a long pause while I thought about what castrati gay cats get up to. 

“I can’t believe you just made me think about that,” I said.

My husband shrugged. It was all in a day’s work for him.  

4. The WBMD (“The Wind Beneath My Doonah”)

Enough said. 

5. The OTA (“The One True Artist”)

My husband has the real talent in the family. If you need proof, here is a cartoon he drew for Mr Justice:


But seriously, my husband is the better writer, the deeper thinker, the more creative soul between us. I just merrily skate along the surface in life but my husband is always thinking, thinking, thinking. And not always just about things like wearing a Fez At Breakfast, although I suspect that there was some deep ontological reason behind even that thought. 

This week marks the 9th year of our marriage, while later this year we celebrate 11 years as a couple and 13 years as friends. I want to say thanks for the journey so far (and it has, as they like to say on Reality TV, “been a journey”). Whoever would have thought those two twenty-somethings in love would find themselves a decade later in a ramshackled weatherboard house trying to make major decisions about their lives with children scrambling over them like they were climbing frames.

Interestingly enough, etiquette dictates that a couple exchange “leather goods” in the ninth year of marriage. Yeah, baby! It’s our Leather Anniversary! Are you thinking what I’m thinking, my darling? Yes, I thought so: His & Hers Leather La-Z-Boy for the glorious years of slow decline ahead of us. Oooh, just the spelling of La-Z-Boy has got me all aroused…. 

Happy Anniversary, my husband. 

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Cafes and children aren’t always the most natural fit, but there is always (always!) a mother’s need for caffeine pushing them together. 

Yesterday, The Pixie, Tiddles McGee and I met with a friend and her two children for some urgent re-caffeination.  It started off in a very civilised manner but the kids soon finished their Blue Heaven-flavoured milkshakes and double-choc brownies and, funnily enough, had got that Wild Look in their eyes – the one which says they’re about to start smashing furniture. So we wisely got the hell out of there. But where to go next? The wind was so bad that the local parks had all put up sandstorm warnings and, somehow, browsing shops full of expensive breakables with four kids drugged to the eyeballs on sugar just wasn’t appealing.

So I suggested that we go sit in my car. At that very moment, the traffic parted to reveal “The Love Bus” parked across the road in all its dented magnificence and it seemed to wink at us and say “Come, my children. Come sit in me and be merry.”

The Love Bus is no ordinary car. For one thing it’s an 1986, 8-seater, champagne-coloured (how festive!) Tarago with central locking (the height of car technology in 1986 and pretty much its only modern feature). 

It came into our lives – much like the Littlest Hobo – just when we needed it. We had just lived through a long period of having no car at all – there had only been the Other Woman in my husband’s life: his motorbike. (I’d give the motorbike it’s own “And introducing…” post except I already feel it gets quite enough attention as it is, thank you very much.) I had been doing okay without a car (having never had a car licence at that point certainly helped – but that’s another story) but my already-strained relationship with public transport was about to be well and truly killed off by the arrival of baby #3. 

Enter The Love Bus, still looking like it had when it was first bought, all clean carpets and upholstery, the result of TLC and undercover parking for 20 years. I think it took all of 3 months of three feral kids and a Not Drowning Mother on her P plates to make The Love Bus look its age. 

And, also like the Littlest Hobo, the Love Bus has been known to do Good Deeds. I was once trapped in the middle of nowhere with the kids in that blessed car. It was around lunchtime on unseasonably hot and windy day, I only had a few crackers and some water, and we had to wait there with nothing, *not even a McDonalds*, in sight for two whole hours.

That day, the Love Bus saved us from a potentially spirit-breaking situation – although one *could* argue that it had caused the situation in the first place by breaking down. In any case, I laid down the seats at the very back to make a bed and let Mr Justice plan where we were all going to sleep that night and where we were going to install the kitchen, etc. For some reason, The Pixie had been cast as the family dog in this particular scenario and was barking and growling a lot but, hey, they were all happy, jumping from seat to seat. In fact when the RACV man finally turned up, Mr Justice turned to me and said “Thanks for the best day ever, mummy”. And since we ended up having to replace the engine to the tune of $3000, it was just as well that the Best Day Ever neatly coincided with the Most Expensive Day Ever. 

So yes, we’ve had some mighty fine times in that car, yesterday being another of them. While the kids ran wild in the back, jumping over seats and finding treasures like squashed sultanas and Happy Meal toys, my friend and I sat up front and managed to have an Actual Conversation. Sentences were finished! Meaning was imparted! We understood each other! Dang it, I’m getting all teary now… Someone should make that car a saint!

At the very least, I’m going to petition the cafe to do driveway service and then we’ve got ourselves the perfect playdate.

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People often ask me “Just what, exactly, *is* that manky scrap of grey cloth that your daughter drags around with her all the time?”. And, if they dare get up close to said cloth, their next question is usually “And why does it smell so strange?”

Why, it’s “The Duck One”, of course!

The Duck One had humble beginnings as a breastfeeding-friendly nightie (decorated with, you guessed it, ducks) given to me before Mr Justice was born. It saw me through many an overnight breastfeeding endurance event with my first two babies and by the time the third baby arrived, I welcomed it as a comfortable old friend. 

In the meantime, Tiddles McGee’s arrival stripped The Pixie of the title of “House Baby”. But unlike Mr Justice, she didn’t resort to using her new sibling as a drum. She found other, strange strange ways of expressing her discontent.

Firstly she embarked on her “Holly Hobby” phase, where she mostly hid under a large purple straw hat, adorned with a large fake rose. People couldn’t see what she was thinking or hear what she was saying – and worse still, she couldn’t see where she was going. That poor hat endured one wall-collision too many and was soon taken off to  Daddy’s shed “to be fixed” (one day I’ll write a post about that magical place where broken toys often go but ne’er return).

It was then she turned her attentions to The Duck One. Whenever I was doing the dishes in my nightie (which was all the time in those days – hey, don’t judge me: I had a newborn!), I’d look down to find The Pixie stroking a corner of the nightie and sucking her thumb, with a far far away look in her eye. It got to the point that she couldn’t pass me in a corridor without stopping, stroking and sucking her thumb. 

Then came the night The Duck One was invited to have a sleep over with The Pixie. Pretty soon, The Duck One – now known simply as “Duck One” – was a regular fixture in her bed, along with those random pieces of lego and that half-eaten apple. 

Then Duck One began to go accompany The Pixie everywhere – to the shops, the kindergarten, the zoo, family weddings…  The Pixie became Duck One’s full-time custodian – or perhaps it was the other way around. And I was finally forced to choose between doing the dishes in the nude or actually getting dressed, which probably was a good thing as my “newborn” was now crawling and eating breadsticks. 

And then things all went a bit David Lynch. I’d find The Pixie *inside* Duck One, still sucking her thumb, as if returning to the amniotic sac from whence she’d sprung. And from time to time, I would find The Pixie and Mr Justice bouncing on the trampoline *both* inside Duck One. It was all strangely disquieting, not least of all for Duck One, who was quickly stretched from a size 12 to a supersize 24. 

Almost two years on, Duck One still figures largely on The Pixie’s social horizon. There are now strict rules about Duck One staying in the pram or “looking after the car” on excursions, mostly because I got sick of Duck One being thrown down on the floor of public toilets when The Pixie needed to go. (Which goes some way in explaining why the strange smell). And of course, every night Duck One is there in The Pixie’s bed, the keeper of her secrets and the catcher of her dreams. 

These days Duck One even has a nickname – as if dropping the “The” hadn’t been informal or intimate enough. The Pixie lovingly refers to her (and she *is* a she) as “Duckwy”. Yes, indeedy. There are many humans on this earth who yearn to be loved half as much as this scrappy piece of cloth – and sometimes, looking at The Pixie with her most treasured possession in the world, I am one of them.

The Pixie and Duck One

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Genghis Cat

Genghis Cat is one angry mo’ fo’ of a kitten. 

Of course, we may have somewhat shaped his destiny by calling him Genghis Cat. Let’s face it: the pages of history contain few killers by the name of Mr Fluffkins.

Unlike the other characters featured in this blog, I’m not giving Genghy a nom de guerre. A cat this cranky shouldn’t really have his anonymity preserved – if anything, he should have an AVO taken out against him. I don’t care to count the number of times an unsuspecting and already hard-done-by parent has been attacked, unprovoked, on the way to the toilet in the early hours of the morning. 

But it wasn’t always this way. He came to us as a small grey bundle who hid in corners and who I cradled gently to emulate the warmth and security of the mother cat he’d left behind. He was the little cat that turned me instantly from a distinctly *non*-cat person to a “I-like-this-cat” person. As my dear friend KT said, “Well it’s just about now in the cycle of things that you’d be pregnant again.” She had a point. We’d been churning out children every two years and my husband’s vasectomy had put an end to all that. A kitten seemed the perfect thing to fill my achingly empty arms. 

But what we didn’t realise when we brought him home was that there was a Jungle Beastie lurking within – one that could turn any household chore into a siege situation. Nothing enhances washing the dishes quite like the jaws of a small creature around your ankles. 

Nor did we realise that, by acquiring a cat, we would immediately sever the bonds of friendships with a number of people harbouring previously undisclosed cat allergies. Whether or not they really had the allergies or just saw a convenient way out of our lives, we’ll never know. 

Nor did we foresee my husband would have to give up his morning meditation. It’s hard to feel at one with the universe with a cat clamped firmly on your vitals – although some might argue this is a true example of instant karma. 

And we certainly never dreamed that getting a  kitten could further damage our already sagging public image. My typically disheveled children now have cat scratches across their hands and faces to join the Milo stains on their shirts and their perennially missing shoes. 

Still, we all love Genghy. We feed him, we play with him, we pat him, we clean his kitty litter tray (although, with the kitty litter, by “we” I mean me). And most of all, we admire him because, as the smallest member of the household, he has garnered a lot of power. Even the fearsome Tiddles McGee (aged 21 months) is learning to show him deference. 

But now I fear that some greater mischief is afoot. Since we did our civic duty by getting Genghy de-sexed and microchipped, there’s been a new edge to it all: a sense of growing resentment, a rising tension between beast and owners, a promise of payback Big Time. 

If I happen to look out into the garden, more often than not I see him there looking straight back at me, as if he were channeling Robert De Niro himself from “Cape Fear”. Even as I type, he’s out there somewhere, lifting weights and getting tatts, and watching… planning… waiting…

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