First Day

Took a while to get her up this morning, but I finally got oldest daughter to her first day of school. She handled it ok I guess.


Pictured: the fine line between “woo-hoo” and “boo-hoo”



I’m accidentally a cat person.  I find dogs annoying and I don’t really like tiny animals or huge animals.  So I go for cats, by default.  They are pretty much all that is left.  Also, and most importantly, they can tidy up after themselves, and I appreciate that in a pet.  Given that baby no. 3 is likely to arrive any day now, I thought I would spare one last thought for my cat who is, basically, about to be forgotten all over again.

Cat and I met around 12 years ago, at a cat shelter.  I had decided on the spur of the moment to get a pet.  I convinced my brother, who was also not busy, and was also a flatmate at the time, to come with me and help me to find “an enormous, grey, long-haired cat.”  Preferably a full-grown neutered male, who would do nothing but sleep on the back of the sofa all day, and eyeball us malevolently from time to time.  That’s what I look for in a pet.  Lazy, self-righteous, monochrome and fuzzy with buckets of disdain.

When we arrived at the shelter, there were many cats, but they all ignored us completely.  All but one.  This strange, half-sized fuzz ball that began to run towards us the moment she saw us… and then stopped halfway, and did the world’s biggest cat-stretch.


AH! A stretchy cat! I want THAT one!!

All thoughts of a big, boofy grey male forgotten, I signed the things and paid the money and took home that small, tortoiseshell-tabby  bundle of fuzz.  The shelter said she was about 2 years old, small for her age, and had no record of her name.  That suited me, I already knew I wanted to call her Matrix.  Not because of the movie, which I hadn’t seen, but because of some weird nerd humour which made better sense at the time.  (No, I lie, it was always a terrible idea.)

Matrix settled in pretty fast.  In hindsight, she took to me faster than I took to her.  I think in all relationships you need boundaries.  Matrix did not hold this same belief.


Stealth-Cat, before I purchased a collar with a bell on it

She kicked off her first day with showing me affection by washing behind my ears.  While I was still asleep.  This is a whole lot less pleasant than you can ever imagine.


What the – ? What is happening to my head? Where AM I ?!?

As if the early-morning confusion of what exactly was going on wasn’t enough, it also meant that for the morning, if not the whole day, my hair was glued upwards and outwards in the most chaotic spiky tufts.  That smelled of fish.  Which is something of a surprise really, because getting her to eat anything was an absolute trial.

She completely refused to eat canned cat food.  To this day, she still will not touch it.  She would only tolerate dried food, or tinned tuna.  It took me 3 years to figure out that she would eat tuna, because I am not very bright, and also because she is lousy at semaphore.

Meanwhile, I would put out bowls of canned food that she would ignore.  I would put out dried food that she would sometimes eat.  But she seemed to spend much more of her time licking the walls of the house.


Yeah, I don’t know either.

She was otherwise healthy, so I let it go.

I decided to try to be friends with her.  I would pat her, but she would just bite me, so I let it go.

I brought home cat toys, but she ignored most of them, or just clawed my hand when I tried to engage her interest, so I stopped.  But one day I found a sort of glove that had strings on the fingers with little toys on the ends, that you could wear and wiggle your fingers and make the fuzzy toy things bounce about.


Yay! Look!! We’re bonding!

Which would have been brilliant, if she wasn’t such a violent, evil-minded killer.


OK it’s not meant to be competitive, cat, but you know what? I think you win.

She has had her slow days too though.  At one house I lived in, the simplest way for her to get in and out without human assistance, was via a small window in the kitchen.


Just came out…. must go in again. So that I can go out again. In order that I may go in again…

One time she came in, just after someone had spilled cooking oil all over the bench.  So instead of a graceful leap from window to bench to floor, she leapt in the window, skidded with surprise across the bench, and landed in an awkward heap on the floor.


Needless to say, this was hilarious.

She shook her head a little and looked around.  When she realised she was right beside her food bowl, she didn’t even bother standing up.  Just lifted her head and then dropped it right into the bowl and started eating, while still lying in a heap on the floor.


Clearly this is a cat after my own heart.

Sadly for my cat, though, she is getting older.  She is not as cute as she used to be.  She still appears to be cute and fuzzy from a distance, but the closer she gets, the more haggard you can see that she is.


Naaaw, look at the cute little – AAARGH! Kill it! Kill it with fire!!

She is also going deaf, so her sweet little mewling has become a sort of plaintive banshee cry that can stop your blood cold at 2am.  Which is her preferred time for conversation.

In spite of all this, I do still think of her, well, not fondly, that’s too strong a word…  but perhaps, as a pet that I… well, a cat that I know.  She’ll always be that insane, sketchy yet hyperactive cat that I… clean up after and receive scars from.  Bless her fuzzy little psychotic tendencies.

OK that’s done, now I can go back to ignoring her in favour of the kids again.


I’m presently 35 weeks pregnant.  B-day is coming, so close I can taste it.  (It tastes like acid reflux).  Naturally the kids are getting more curious, and asking more questions as the due date looms nearer.


Most I am prepared for. Others, not so much.

I stood there a moment, caught between wanting to laugh and how best to approach the answer.  This being a 5 year old, her grasp on genetics is slender at best.


There I am, nearly laughing, but for the taste of acid reflux.

I was also sort of hoping that my husband, who has been reading up on molecular biology and anatomy lately, would step in and say something.


What can I say, the man doesn’t disappoint.

Huh.  I’m going to curl up alone in a chair now, and eat chocolate.  Well, ok, sprawl ungainly across the sofa.  That’s about all I’m capable of right now. To sit there, grumpy and alone.  With my acid reflux.

Expanding Family

Once upon a time, I thought family life would look like this:


Probably with it’s own upbeat soundtrack too.

However I can honestly say that it looks nothing like that, and looks everything like this:


Soundtrack to this image is “mum! mum! mum! mum!!! MUM!! MUM!!!”

You have to imagine that we are also knee-deep in toys, but I couldn’t draw them all in.  Also three minutes after this picture was taken, the youngest child declared that the reason the banana was in her nose was “to get out the pea”.  Don’t even ask.


Bad Holidays

We recently returned from a summer holiday.  It did not go particularly well.

At least, it started out ok, and Christmas day was great.


I love Christmas.

But after that things went rapidly down hill.  And stayed there.  Not even in a good sort of “you’ll laugh later” kind of way.  More in a depressed, dragging its heels, sort of “let this be over soon” kind of way.  Which got me thinking about all the holidays I’ve had over the years where things have been worse.

First thing that springs to mind is the time we went to the beach and myself and our daughter somehow got pneumonia.


This is how I cheer myself up. Compare the dismal of today with the downright horrific of yesterday.

I used to get terribly car sick as a child too, on any car trip lasting longer than about 30 minutes. But I will spare you any drawing of that.  Suffice to say I would invariably put a damper on any family holiday, well before we’d even arrived.

At least as an adult I have outgrown that.  But now I have responsibilities, and this means I have potential to make some truly awful judgement calls.

And make them I do.

Such as the time we took our brand new baby girl to some historically significant lighthouse, and it poured cold rain on us the entire time.  We were not prepared for that, and got soaked through, really quickly.


Pictured: possible metaphor for marital relations among first-time parents

This pales in comparison, however, to the time I was in an airport in Paris, right before Christmas in 2001, and some jerk had decided to put explosives in his shoes and then tried to smuggle them on to a plane.  He failed.  And Charles de Gaulle airport ground to a halt.


I’m not even in this photo. I’m two-storeys down.  It will be another 3 hours before I’m this far along in the check-in queue.

Speaking of Paris, there was the time my then-boyfriend got sick, and sent me to the pharmacist for medicine.  He had a stubborn, hacking cough, and I confidently went to the counter and spoke to the ladies in my best French.

However I forgot the French word for “throat”.

Loudly and clearly, I told the pharmacists that I needed some extra strong medicine, because my boyfriend had bad taste.


This being France, they were really concerned.

Speaking of overseas travel, I once holidayed in Thailand.  I don’t recommend it.


Seriously, even America is not this American.

Then there was the time I received poor communication from some friends, and went hiking up mountains in the most inappropriate attire that you can possibly take camping.


On the bright side, in all the photos of that trip, I am by far the most fabulous.

This reminds me of my earliest holiday memory ever, which was also a camping trip.  I don’t remember anything about the camping part, just that at the end, when it was time to go home, the car got severely bogged in a huge mud pit.  Took ages to get it out again.


Come to think of it, given my age at the time, this was probably the highlight.

But coming in at first place would have to be the time my now-husband / then-boyfriend and I took our first weekend away together.  He went to pick up the keys for a holiday house his parents owned, a few hours’ drive away.  I packed meticulously, and we left in good time for the long drive down there, in order to arrive just closing in on dinner time, Friday night.


Except that about 20 minutes’ from our destination, after being in the car for over two hours, I made some joke along the lines of “hope you didn’t forget the keys!”…


A long silence.

I slowed the car to the sound of more silence.  I repeated the line.  Possibly as a question this time.  A desperate, nervous question.

“Hope you didn’t forget the keys?”


And then he said… “er… um… that is… ” Because he had, in fact, left the keys at home.

And I turned the car around, drove all the way back again.  He got the keys.  Got back in the car, and we did the entire drive again.

The whole thing was executed in a deafening silence.

I was thinking the whole way of all the things I COULD say, but was just too tired, angry and plain astounded to say anything at that point.


Oh, did I roll my eyes out loud? I’m so freaking sorry. Not.

Instead of arriving just before dinner time, we barrelled in, cold and hungry, just after midnight.  I don’t remember clearly, but it is quite possible one of us spent that night on the sofa.

Somehow it must have improved, because I married the guy a few years later.  (And spent our honeymoon in Thailand, as shown above.  My bad.  So that pretty much makes us even.)

All of this makes the recent holiday seem like a complete picnic.  Just had one car breakdown, and a bit of cruddy weather.  Not even bad enough to illustrate.

See, I feel better already.