19 November 2008

Oh boy

Bizarre vignette of the day: Jessie lying on the beanbag happily chewing on a toy with Fred straddled across her back, his little legs barely touching the floor, merrily humping away.

Seriously, this is what passes for normal in our house!

13 November 2008

It's called an elevator

Watching The Big Bang Theory last night (my current favourite), the scene in which Sheldon and Penny are having a conversation as they walk the numerous flights of stairs to their apartments. On each landing they pass the elevator doors, criss-crossed with 'Out of Order' tape. In the ad break 9 Year Old Boy turns to me and asks "Mummy, why are so many of those rooms out of order?".

11 November 2008

My morning fix

I'm at the computer with my morning cup of coffee catching up on my blog reading (also know as avoiding the housework) so I thought I'd share a few of this morning's favourite links:

From Shoewawa, boot wearing season is over here in NZ with summer on its way, and I couldn't afford these in a month of Sundays, but I love love love these Thomas Wylde boots.

The heel, the multiple skull buckles, even the slouchiness (which wouldn't normally win me over) - available here.

From Fashionably Geek, no I haven't reversed the picture, this watch actually runs backwards. Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed (like me) and the theory is that his backwards writing was not an attempt to write in code, but rather to avoid smudging the ink as he wrote.

And it's beautiful to look at. Available at The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, the same site that carries the Dali watch I love so much.

The Boston Globe's Big Picture blog is a favourite of mine - the photo collections are always stunning, and today's Antarctica pics almost have me thinking it would be worth braving the cold to go there (I said almost, I seriously hate the cold).

(Image: Zee Evans/National Science Foundation)

And to end, something a little ghoulish. Ugly Overload has some mosquito photos that will have you reaching for the insect repellant.

And now I should start my day, but tearing myself away from the window may be a little difficult. The lady across the road has had a gardener in the last few days, and today he's out there shovelling topsoil. Young? Check. Tanned? Check. Topless? Check. Toned physique? Check. EEB looked somewhat suspicious when I tried to convince him that maybe he should go in to the office today rather than working from home. I wonder why...

10 November 2008

This is what you get for having kids

After the post about the bean bag explosion EEB's mum emailed me with the story of the time she had taken EEB and his sister shopping and they managed to open the zip on a bean bag and spill the beans all over the store. EEBM quite rightly pretended they weren't with her (oh how many times have I done that).

It's no secret that children were put on this planet to embarrass their parents. When 9 Year Old Boy was a toddler he couldn't make his 't' sounds, and replaced them with 'f'. Imagine if you will how much fun it is when, in the middle of a busy doctor's surgery filled with old ladies, your son announces that he has just seen out the window "the biggest f**k ever"!

Then there was my friend whose daughter went to play at a friends house and decided to indulge her artistic side. Not long after she came home her mum was startled to receive a phone call from the friend's mum, who just wanted to let her know that a certain little girl had written on her son's penis. (Can't have been a very long sentence, one imagines). Luckily the friend's mum had a sense of humour.

When I was a teenager, living with my foster family, my one and a half year old foster sister decided her doll's hair needed washing and promptly did so ... in the toilet!

Thirteen Year Old Girl has always had a knack for asking awkward questions. On one occasion when she was teeny we arrived at my grandparents' house for a family gathering. Great-Grandpa was nowhere to be seen, and upon enquiring wee girl was told he was in the toilet. "Is he sitting down or standing up?" she asked the assembled family members.

Fast forward to another family gathering, wee girl's dad was somewhat uncomfortable at the time having been stricken with epidydimitis ('epidydimis' being the tubing in the testicles, 'itis' being an infection - you do the math) and wee girl was under strict instructions not to jump on him. Well she arrived at grandparents' house, bounced straight onto Great-Grandpa's lap for a cuddle, stopped for a moment then turned to GG and asked very seriously "Grandpa do YOU have infected testicles?".

All I can say is they better look after me in my dotage, because I've earned it!

05 November 2008

Does this mean I'm a grown up?

I'm glued to CNN watching the US elections. Also, GO OBAMA!

Still not entirely clear on how the American elections work, is it just me or is it all very complicated? If it weren't for hours and hours of West Wing viewing I wouldn't have even the faintest idea what was going on!

29 October 2008

I am the most fascinating person

Having dogs can be a very ego-stroking experience - everything I do is, to them, utterly fascinating. Every move I make around the house is accompanied by the tick-tick-tick of two sets of paws following me, every action watched by two pairs of eager, inquisitive eyes. "You're hanging the washing out - incredible!" "You're going to the toilet - amazing!" "You're scraping poo off the deck - astounding! (Also, could you put that back, I was planning on rolling in it later.)" If it weren't for my children's uncanny ability to bring me back down to earth with a crash I could start to get rather full of myself.

Eagle-eyed readers (all two of you) will have gleaned that we have added another fluffy bod to the menagerie. Meet Fred (aka Top Hat and Tails of TennTyne).

Fred is a Sealyham Terrier - a once popular breed that is now top of the list of endangered dog breeds in England. EEB's family in England has always had Sealyhams and several months ago he contacted New Zealand's only Sealyham breeder. She had no puppies available at the time, but when the family who originally took Fred sadly had to return him due to unforseen circumstances EEB immediately came to mind. We met her and Fred at the NZ Kennel Club show on Saturday, fell in love and brought him home with us, where he has now settled in so well that you'd think he'd always lived here. Jessie loves having a playmate, and Fred is besotted with Jessie.

In other news, Jessie bit the corner off the outdoor beanbag, the kids discovered that jumping on the beanbag produces a shower of polystyrene beads, the deck now looks like a snow storm hit it and Fred is walking around with polystyrene beads stuck in his fur. I tell ya - it's comedy gold in this house!

(And in case you're wondering: yes that is EEB in the picture hiding behind Fred.)

17 October 2008

Another one of those 'awwwwwwwwwwwww' moments

I've just bought myself a new wallet, and when I was swapping stuff over from the old one I found two wee notes tucked away in a pocket. They were written by 13 Year Old Girl last year on my birthday, as instructions for herself and her brother regarding the preparation of my breakfast in bed.

The first note reads:

1. Presents
2. Tea (strong)
3. Toast x2 (Marmite)
4. Book (Princess Handbook)

Note that I was provided with reading material, the Princess Handbook is very appropriate is it not?

Second note:

1. Wake up early
2. Be happy
3. Breakfast in bed
4. Big hugs for Mum
5. Happy birthday

I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I love my kids!

16 October 2008

Out of the mouths of babes

I've been going through some old backup discs, sorting out all my digital photos, and I found this little story from 2004 that I thought I'd share with you:

During a visit to Dunedin (which had involved a very exciting trip by plane), I was playing a game with then Five Year Old Boy and his Nana when he told me that I was dead, and had gone to heaven. I asked him if heaven was nice and he replied “No, it’s boring”. “How do you know, have you been to heaven” asked his Nana. “No” said Five Year Old Boy. “So how do you know it’s boring then?” she asked. “Because we passed it on the way here!” was his reply.

03 October 2008

Kleptomaniac dogs, rubber doormats and Michael Jackson

An inspection of the garden yesterday morning revealed the following things: a pair of 13 year old girl's socks, game pieces from Snakes & Ladders, a pair of EEB's boxers, six rubber doormats, three empty tins from the recycling bin, a pair of 9 year old boy's trousers, a ripped bag of kitty litter of the recycled newspaper variety - you should see what happens to that stuff when it's been out in the rain, a cushion, the blankets from the dog's kennel, 13 year old girl's jacket, and the wrapper from the huge bar of Caramello chocolate. We'd only eaten a few pieces out of the block - bet that was one happy dog!

Several things are clear from this. First - I need to get out in the garden more often. Second - my dog is a kleptomaniac. Third - I should stop buying rubber doormats and invest in some wrought iron ones - let's see her face when she tries to chew on that!

The house was (as usual) full of children yesterday, and they entertained themselves for some time playing "Jacksonified" - a variation on the classic game of Tag that they made up themselves. The basic idea is the same as in Tag, but the person who is in is Michael Jackson, and they chase the other kids until they catch someone, who then becomes "Jacksonified". A pretty succinct comment on the state of Michael Jackson's career no? He has joined the likes of the Bubonic Plague and become a children's game (a'la Ring a Ring a Rosie)!

01 October 2008

No smoking please - I'm giving up. No, seriously.

I don't have a particularly good history with quitting smoking (obviously, otherwise I would have, you know - quit), but given that I am now a Woman of No Income (otherwise known as staying home to oversee the renovations, which haven't actually started yet), I think it's only fair that the EEB shouldn't have to pay for my nicotine addiction. He would quite rightly point out that he already pays for my shoe addiction. And my chocolate addiction. And my lingerie addiction. And my 'ooooh that's so pretty, I can has?' addiction. Also, my children hate it that I smoke. Oh and my father died at a relatively young age of a heart attack after a lifetime of smoking. And I keep getting bronchitis. And I'd quite like to grow old disgracefully, not die young of some smoking related condition. Enough reasons already? I sure hope so.

So I smoked the last smoke in the packet at 6.30 this morning. EEB and the kids are ducking for cover - watch this space and wish me luck.

In unrelated news, the dog was outside for five minutes and is now covered in Something Disgusting With Tomatoes In It. Not sure how I'm going to remove it, given that we don't use the bathtub since the 'water leaking down the side of the bathtub and shorting out the washing machine and dryer on the day before we flew to Australia when I still had five loads of washing to do' incident of July 08.

12 September 2008

Everyone has an opinion - bless them!

The thing about parenting is that from the instant you announce your impending arrival to the world everyone has an opinion for you. Breastfeeding, toilet training, two year olds, siblings - the list is as long as the many phases in a child's life. Coming from other parents I can understand it, and I've even been guilty of it myself - the thing is when you've survived a childhood phase and you and your child come out the other side of it (more or less) intact you're pretty damn proud of yourself and eager to share your new-found wisdom with others in the most well meaning way. So when other parents feel inclined to give me unsolicited advice I nod, smile, and sometimes follow it if I think it's worthwhile. When the advice comes from non-parents I nod, smile and generally ignore it (whilst quietly smirking over the shock they're going to get when they actually have children of their own!).

I've noticed this happening again recently because my gorgeous daughter has just turned thirteen. Yep, that's right folks, I have a teenager in the house, and if I'm to believe the comments I've had from some, it's all downhill from here - a hellish dive into sex, drugs and rock and roll which I'm led to believe I'm completely unprepared for. What really gets my hackles up is when people make these comments in front of my daughter. I've always believed that if a person hears negative comments about themselves often enough they're likely to start believing, and embodying, those comments.

Why is it that teenagers are consistently viewed so negatively? I remember seeing a documentary many years about about a famous anthropologist whose area of speciality was teenagers, specifically the differences between teenagers in different cultures. Some of the cultures she studied had no concept of 'teenagers', no word for it in their vocabulary - children essentially went straight from childhood to adulthood, often with an accompanying ceremony to celebrate the event, and she observed in these cultures a lack of what we would think of as 'typical' troublesome teenage behaviour. I don't want to make broad brush stroke generalisations out of this, but it is food for thought isn't it?

The years ahead may be difficult, there may be times when I search frantically for the instruction manual that was through some oversight left out of my daughter's packaging, but in the end she knows I love her and I know she loves me (even on those days when I'm 'The Worst Mum In The World'). We'll come out the other side of The Teens, and I'm going to treasure every damn moment of it along the way.

20 August 2008

No matter what anybody else says, my son thinks I'm cool!

Being a parent is guaranteed to present you with moments that tug at your heartstrings, and when I read this story that my son brought home from school I had tears in my eyes! Here it is, and aside from some capitalisation I've recreated it in all of its glory (note the variety of ways 'piercing' is spelt - love it!):

My mum silly and clumsy. She is very smart and she has lots of anmils. Tom her boyfriend is very smart too. My mum loves the computer and she is very nice her faverite website is NeoPets she is very good at it. She has one son (aka me) and one daughter (aka Shannon my sister). My mum is very happy she had us. She has black/red hair. She has a belly button pieceing three ear pircings and one tounge percing. She is very cool her name is Selina. She has a part time job I love my mum she is the best.

11 March 2008

Puppy training

So, Eccentric English Boyfriend, 12 Year Old girl, 8 Year Old Boy, The Menagerie and myself have finally set up house together. Three weeks ago we moved into our new house, and it still looks like an explosion in a box factory. It's a big house, but we have a lot of stuff.

To add to the chaos that comes with shifting and combining two households we have added to The Menagerie - we've adopted a border collie cross puppy from the SPCA who we've named Jessie, and she's gorgeous. And excitable. And chews stuff. And poos. And wees. And did I mention chews stuff?

She is a lovely girl though, and is responding really well to training. The whiteboard on the wall of our kitchen has written on it a list of the commands we use for Jessie, so that we are all using the same command (ie 'sit', 'don't chew that', 'stay', 'come back here with my bra' and so forth). The other day as I was getting the kids prepared for school in the morning EEB was in the hall attempting to put his boots on so he could go to work. His attempt was obviously not going very well, and judging by the yelling coming from the hall it was probably a lot to do with the fact that he had a small puppy hanging off his shoe laces. He may not have been finding it very amusing but we all did, and after giggling at the commotion for a while 12 Year Old Girl emerged from the kitchen with a wicked grin. "Mum, I've written a new command on the whiteboard" she giggled, and sure enough at the bottom of the list she had written:


16 January 2008

The Great Hunter - The Early Years

It is another blisteringly hot Auckland day today, and my cats are all stretched out in the shadiest spots they can find, moving only when the passage of the sun dictates. Marvin in particular suffers during summer, although his coat is the shortest it is also the most dense (rather like him, I am afraid!), and on days like this his slothfulness knows no bounds.

Marvin wasn't always like this however - six years ago he was a frisky, bristly, playful, clumsy kitten (ok he's still clumsy). One particular day when he was only a few months old I heard him come barrelling in through the cat door and rowl for me in that voice that cats do when they've brought you a present. Sighing, I headed for the dining room, preparing myself for the carnage I would find, and there was Marvin proud as punch in the middle of the dining room rowling expectantly and standing over his prey. The look on his face said it all - 'look mum, I caught it, and I killed it, and I brought it for you, and I'm so clever, aren't I mum?'.

And his prey? One very large, very dead ... leaf!

He went on to be a great hunter, who brought us all manner of things (including, on two separate occasions, tuis). At the ripe old age of six he no longer hunts (obviously that would require too much energy), but I still like to remind him of his first big kill!