27 October 2007

Mummy, Why Isn't Greg The Yellow Wiggle Anymore?

Greg was exhausted. It had been a long day. The trouble began in the morning.

Breakfast everyone!" Greg called. "We've got a big day ahead!" Murray and Anthony came to the table along with Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, Wags the Dog and Captain Feathersword. But where was Jeff?

"Where's Jeff?" Greg asked. "We have so much to do - we need Jeff!"

"I think he's asleep again, me hearties," the Captain offered.

"Oh no," said Greg. "We'll have to wake him up. Ready everybody? One, two, three, ... WAKE UP JEFF!" Jeff bounced out of bed smiling and jumping around, making bird noises. How strange. Such a compulsive and deep sleeper, such an easy waker. "Odd," thought Anthony. "Narcolepsy or lazy old man?" he wondered.

"Now I have a few things to talk to you about. I'm glad I've got you all together," said Greg. "There's a bit of a mess outside. Who is responsible for the desecration of my roses again? Dorothy?" She shrunk under his gaze. "This can't go on, Dorothy. If you can't control yourself I'll need to spray garlic on my roses. And what about the holes in the ground? Was that you too?"

"Woof," said Wags sadly and put his tail between his legs. Greg was disappointed. "Oh no Wags, have you been running around, digging the ground again? Oh me, oh my! How many times have I told you..." And Wags whimpered.

"Never mind everyone, we'll fix the yard later. We've got a bit to do today so let's just focus on today's tasks, okay? Now Anthony, you're off to your Overeaters Anonymous meeting, aren't you?"

"I hardly see why it's necessary," complained Anthony. "I only eat fruit salad (yummy yummy) and vegetable soup (uh uh huh), but they seem to think that because eating is my schtick that I need to attend the classes!"

"Yes, whatever, " said Greg, getting impatient. "Look, I need to you run an important errand when you go. Can you take Wags to the vet for me?"

"Sure, what's up with Wags?" asked Anthony

"He's got the mange" replied Greg. Everybody stared at Wags and moved a little bit further away.

"Ohhh-kay..." said Anthony, suddenly unsure. "You'll have to stay in the back, Wags. And don't chew on the seats or shed hair in the Big Red Car. Come on, boy."

"Woof," said Wags.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door of the Wiggle House. "Who can that be?" wondered Greg.

Officer Beaples stood outside the door. "Ello ello ello! And what 'ave we 'ere?"

"Oh, good morning officer," said Greg. "Actually you've caught us at a pretty bad time - I wonder if you wouldn't mind..."

"Well your day is about to get a bit worse, my lad," said the officer. "We've 'ad a complaint about Murray's guitar playing."

"A complaint? Surely there must be some mistake, Officer."

"No mistake, laddie. Turns out your neighbours aren't all that fond of 'Music With Murray' after all. They've asked me to come down 'ere and hin-vestigate! 'Ang on a minute, what's all this then?"

The good officer had caught sight of Anthony about the set off in the Big Red Car. "That registration sticker appears to 'ave hex-pired. Could I see your license please sir?" Anthony sheepishly handed over his drivers license as Officer Beaples began checking the Big Red Car for any "hin-dications of hun-roadworthiness."

As Greg stood there aghast, Henry the Octopus raced out of the house with his tentacles flying this way and that. "Where do you think you're going?" demanded Greg.

"I've got a lunch date with Chef Alfonso - we had a really good chat after the show last night. He said he liked the look of me at the show and he had some new ideas for me!"

"You're not thinking of leaving The Wiggles are you?" demanded Greg.

"Oh, no, not at all, not at all," reassured Henry. "No, quite the opposite. I think Chef Alfonso might have some good ideas for how I could be used in our upcoming shows! He mentioned some of his ideas to me, let me see now, there was a thing called Octopus Terrine, that sounded like me doing some singing number, and there was Octopus Confit and Octopus Risotto too - I think they're different types of circus tricks or something. Anyway, they sound great and Alfonso said we could discuss them today. He said he'd have me for lunch, so I'll head off now ..."

"No no no no!" screamed Greg. "Henry, come back here! I think we need to have a little talk."

Henry sat down in a huff and crossed a few of his legs.

"But before I talk to you I have something to sort out with Captain Feathersword. Where are you, Captain!?"

"Ooh, yes, Gregory," said the Captain, appearing from the kitchen.

"Listen, we need to discuss your use of the feathersword inside the house. I'm getting quite tired of being tickled all day long! Look, it's a little annoying getting a tickle in the ear while you're cooking ..." Greg complained.

"Okay," said the captain giggling.

"... and it's quite frustrating to be tickled on the back of the neck while you're hanging out the washing ..." Greg continued.

"Okay," said the captain again, chuckling.

"... and it really gets my goat when I'm tickled up the nose while I'm trying to get some sleep ..." Greg went on.

"Okay," said the captain one more time, chortling.

"... but when I'm just sitting down for five minutes of peace on the toot and I'm tickled on the ... Captain! Why are you laughing? You have been a Serial Pest since we moved in here! Do you think this is funny?"

"Oooh, yes, I do Gregory, hee hee heeee!" guffawed the Captain.

"ALL RIGHT!" screamed Greg. "I've had enough of this! I thought that we worked well enough on stage that we could manage living under the same roof! BUT I WAS WRONG! It's bedlam, and I can't stand it! I'm quitting!" And Greg stormed off in disgust, striding down the street. "Let's see how Sam manages this!" he muttered.

22 October 2007

A Church Camp I Won't (Be Able To) Forget

I have spent the weekend on a church camp. It was a great camp with heaps of awesome activities and fantastic company, but a few things happened to severely try my patience and self-control.

After one or two of these incidents, I wanted to run away and hide. By Saturday night I thought it would be best for the poor children if I resigned as their mother. And by Sunday morning I was thinking maybe I should start going to a different church.

Here is a short list of the major hassles and incidents:

  • The country setting was lovely but that meant there were bazillions of flies. They had gathered in plague proportions to lounge around on every available area of our arms, legs and faces.
  • Chubbity Bubbity slept dreadfully. Deep in the darkness hours after much broken sleep I simply held her in my arms and looked into her bright beady eyes as I wept desperately for more sleep.
  • Sonny Ma-Jiminy had his normal number of tantrums but I was completely unable to manage his behaviour like I do at home. This was because on camp I usually had Chubbity Bubbity in one arm while using the other arm to hold a plate, a bib, a spoon and swat away flies.
  • I left the washing liquid out of my laundry box during a moment when all three of my hands were busy. Sonny Ma-Jiminy took a quick swig after his shower and started coughing and burping up what sounded like gallons of gurgly, bubbly air. “It’s a-scusting!" he cried. "Yuck! That drink has a weird taste!” I held him up to the basin while he drank and drank and drank (and gacked up some bubbles and froth). No lasting damage, but I felt terrible for failing to lock the washing liquid back up in my laundry box earlier.
  • My only pair of warm jeans got soaked while I was showering ...
  • ... and I sat on a small puddle of spilt chocolate milk in my only pair of half-warm jeans …
  • … and therefore also ran out of clean knickers.

Oh yes, I forgot one.

  • I flashed my Naked Self to the campsite and the World At Large.

It was this totally mortifying flashing incident on Saturday afternoon that broke the metaphorical camel’s back.

It happened like this. In the middle of our dormitory block, there was a bathroom with disabled access. It was a very large room with a toilet in one corner and a shower in the other with no walls in between.

I’m getting good at showering with Chubbity Bubbity now so I decided that she would shower with me on Saturday afternoon. I lay a beach towel down in the middle of the bathroom floor for her to lie on and undressed her and wrapped her up in a towel. I then showered myself and after that I picked her up and cuddled her close in the shower. You can’t get a slippery baby completely clean in the shower but you can have a nice close cuddle and she always seems to enjoy licking the drips of water while showering with her mummy.

The next step was to put her back on her beach towel and wrap her warmly in her bath towel so she could happily kick around while I dried and dressed myself. I reached for my bath towel and as I did, I slipped a little bit on the wet tiles. I automatically stretched my arm out to steady myself, and found myself pressing on the door that connected with outside.

Its latch was a bit dodgy.

The door clicked open and slowly swung outwards as my Naked Self stood aghast watching the door swing wider and wider. I was dumbly aware that each passing second of inaction revealed more … and more … and horribly more of my dripping wet Naked Self to the campsite, the Outside World and the few huddles of friends and church acquaintances who had gathered about 20 metres away in the rotunda.

My towel was not close enough to grab without having to flash across the open doorway and I desperately needed to halt the steady progress of the swinging door if I ever was to shut the stupid thing without having to emerge too far out from the bathroom. I made a quick decision and plunged into The Outside World as quickly as I could and wrenched the beastly door firmly shut.

I stood there in dumb amazement. What on earth? Did that really just happen? Was this one of those awful naked-in-public dreams? Or was it a horrifyingly real moment that my sub-conscious will draw on for inspiration for future awful naked-in-public dreams? It all seemed a bit unreal as Chubbity Bubbity smiled up at me from her towel on the floor, unaware how absolutely mortifying that moment was for me.

Humiliated, Chubbity and I emerged from our dorm ten minutes later. I spoke confidently to people over dinner hoping that my laughs and smiles hid my concern. Nobody mentioned anything about it at all and I hoped that perhaps - just perhaps - this meant that nobody saw my mortifying moment in the first place.

But I’ll never know for sure whether my Naked Self was seen by young children, half my friends and a handful of elderly church people – or not!

And I don’t ever want to know!

19 October 2007

How Brian Came To Be Monocular

I'm not good at keeping fish alive. My brief attempt to become a Fish Owner in my first year at University sadly ended after only a few weeks with the flushing of Doctor Honeydew and the sub-geranium burial of Beaker soon after.

But my Crazy Sister is good at keeping fish. She always keeps a few tanks of goldfish and Black Moors who usually enjoy long healthy lives. I suspect that this is because she knows much more about keeping fish than I do, using plants and snails to maintain underwater eco-systems and finding time for the essential fish-keeping tasks like changing the water.

The most remarkable fish she ever kept was a Black Moor with long flowing fins and goggly protruding eyes called Brian (naming your five fish after the Backstreet Boys is grounds for being called "Crazy", in my opinion.) His early life was unremarkable but an event soon occurred which set him apart from the other Backstreet Boys. That event was The Great Siphoning Accident.

One day, my Crazy Sister decided to clean the tank and replace the water. Her first task was to siphon most of the old water out. I suppose that if I'd changed fishtank water many times in my life, I would have cut corners too. This day, she decided not to remove the fish during the siphoning process but instead to keep a close eye on them as she held the siphon while the water drained out.

But boring tasks are daydreaming tasks and as she mentally floated away for a moment, Brian swam too close to the siphon. Crazy Sister felt a gentle "thoonk" in the tube and looked down to see a black fish eye zipping through the siphoning tube with blood vessels streaming behind it. A quick check of the tank revealed Brian calmly swimming away with similar blood vessels trailing from where one of his goggly eyes used to be.

Now Black Moors characteristically have poor vision to begin with and Brian's certain visual handicap along with the severity of his siphoning injury indicted that perhaps his rapid re-classification from binocular to monocular would end in his ultimate flushing. But the strangest things can happen in the animal world, and to our collective amazement, Brian made a full recovery and later rejoined his band members in the clean tank. (I like to imagine they went on to write a hit single called "Black Moor's Back: Larger Than Life, but a little Incomplete.")

Brian lived for years after The Great Siphoning Accident, even outlasting his fellow Backstreet Boys. He became a large, fat, one-eyed aristocrat of a fish who always swam ten-degrees off vertical and who permanently wore a glum (if somewhat startled) expression.

And perhaps the greatest irony is that although The Great Siphoning Accident is folklore in our family and we will remember it for generations to come, Brian forgot it three seconds after it occurred.

16 October 2007

Spiritual Food, Time Zones and Online Shopping

I've been looking for a rare out-of-print book. I have found it in a bookshop in the UK that sells some fiction as well as Christian books. Every now and then I visit the bookshop's website as I consider whether to buy it from overseas or to try to find it in a shop closer to home.

Last Sunday, I visited the site again to check some details on postage. I got a surprise. Instead of the bookshop's website, I found this message:

We're closed on the Lord's Day!
Just as we wouldn't have a physical store open on the Lord's Day, we don't believe it's the best if we have our online store open today.
We recognise that some of you are shopping for your spiritual food which you may well want *for* the Lord's day, but we'd prefer if you came back another day to do the buying :-)

Hmm. Now I think that in God's eyes, this is a very good idea. I myself find it hard to slow down on Sundays and spend time with God and have a decent rest. And I think that God would be really happy with these bookstore owners who close their online store and give God's day of rest the proper respect.

But as Aunt March said, "the best of us have a spice of perversity in us" and the spice of perversity in me poses two questions:
  1. Is it morally wrong to purchase Spiritual Food during Australia's Lord's Day which, due to time-zone differences, is in fact late Saturday night in the UK?
  2. Do I have grounds to complain because I cannot purchase Spiritual Food from Australia in the earlier hours of a Monday because it's still the Lord's Day in the UK and therefore this online bookstore would be closed?
I think the answers are (1) No and (2) No. And I think that the Pharisee in me would do well to pipe down and leave the issue alone.

But these facts remain:
  • I would still like to buy a copy of this book.
  • I need to have a Day Of Rest each week, just as these online bookstore owners do.
  • The spice of perversity in me serves no purpose other than to provide blog fodder.
In the end, I think that the only thing I've decided after blogging all this is that the best policy would be to buy books on a Wednesday.

15 October 2007

My Imaginary Housekeeper

The mess can get a bit out of control at my place.

Sonny-Ma-Jiminy is now two and a half and he's programmed for mayhem. I put his toys away into his toyboxes; he takes them out again. I put all his trikes and trolleys under the deck; he takes them out again. I put his ukulele away where I can't stand on it; he takes it out and places it where I will accidentally step on it and mindlessly kick it again and again. For example, behind me on the kitchen floor or just outside the shower door before I get out dripping wet.

Chubbity Bubbity is quite dependent on Mummy at 6 months old and she prefers me to devote at least 50% of my ARMS to her. Which means I'm usually doing my housework one-handed except when both my arms are devoted to her care, when nothing gets done at all.

My husband is frequently busy at work or enjoying his own "down-time" (and who doesn't need down-time?)

Puppity Doggity, in her defence following my recent post about the BBQ Grease, is fairly easy to look after however she tends to walk thousands of clover burrs inside on her foxlike brush of a tail. But overall, she contributes little to the general domestic chaos at our place.

And me - well, I tend to procrastinate a little bit. And when things are really untidy, I just look at the List Of Things To Do and I procrastinate a lot.
At any given time I have plenty of jobs on my List Of Things To Do, whether the list is in writing or just a mental note. Large jobs, small jobs, easy jobs and the jobs I'd run away from home to avoid. It's usually a long list and although compiling it lifts the burdens from my mind, attacking items on the list is not enjoyable and nearly impossible to juggle, especially when Chubbity Bubbity is awake.

Now, we're not particularly rich. It's unreasonable to consider spending large amounts of our money employing a housekeeper to attack the tasks on my List Of Things To Do. But I've decided to make myself feel a little better by imagining that I can.

There are three qualities you need in an Imaginary Housekeeper. The first is kindness. I don't want anybody coming into my house and being unkind. The second is a willingness to do anything you ask her to do. I want to be able to leave any job (large/small/easy/run-away-from-it) in her hands and know that she'll do it without complaining. And the third quality? I'll tell you later.

My Imaginary Housekeeper is a lovely Spanish lady called Consuela. Our arrangement is simple: I pay her a lot of imaginary money to come and complete items from my list. It's an imaginary burden on our imaginary purse, but I imagine that I do it. And every now and then I walk past the List Of Things To Do and see a job that is down for Consuela to complete and I think, "Oh poor Consuela, she really is quite busy. I'll just quickly get that one thing done and then she won't have to do it. And maybe I'll save some money today because Consuela will be able to leave early."

And before I know it, I'm getting the housework done and saving imaginary money everywhere. It's a win-win situation. Just tonight I put away three baskets of folded clothes that had been washed, dried, folded and presumably left for Consuela to put away. After about a week of fossicking through baskets of folded cloths for underwear and shirts, I realised that Consuela (being imaginary) wasn't going to get to it so I saved myself a bit of money and did it myself. Just as I should have done in the first place.

The thing is, if I HAD done it myself in the first place, it would have been drudgery. This way, it's not drudgery - it's part of the lovely win-win situation I've created by saving money by getting to it before Consuela does.

And that's the final quality you need in an Imaginary Housekeeper - a little touch of laziness!

14 October 2007

I Am Simply No Good At Wiggly Multi-Tasking

The Wiggles are good. Very good. They are superb children's entertainers and creative songwriters. Their music tends to "switch on" the musical part of kids' brains and it encourages them to grow and develop musically.

Sonny-Ma-Jiminy loves The Wiggles. I often find him singing a Wiggles song, strumming his guitar like Murray, singing the words like Greg and performing the actions like a besotted Wiggly Groupie. He frequently falls asleep like Jeff, stopping all activity as he feigns narcolepsy with his eyeballs rolling back in his head (which has frightened Grandma on more than one occasion.) He begins to snore gently as he waits to be "woken up" when he jumps up and down flapping his arms and tweeting like a bird (yeah, what's with that, Jeff?)

Like most children his age I suspect, he thinks that his mother would love nothing more than to fill her own day with a constant Wiggly Role-Play. But the average mother has many calls on her time, and the pressure to multi-task the housework with the Wiggly Role-Play is immense. To my disappointment, this area has been nothing but a debilitating domestic limitation.

I simply cannot simultaneously hang out the washing while pointing my fingers and doing the twist.

Neither can I peel potatoes while standing on one leg and shaking my hands.

And I can't keep my cool while being wrenched from what was a peaceful sleep with the dreaded words,
"One ... two ... three ... WAKE UP MUMMY!!!"

My only hope is that Chubbity Bubbity will grow into another little Wiggly Groupie and be satisfied following her brother's constant requests to "be Dorothy" or to "stand up and dance" or to "play her guitar like Murray."

Until then, I'll have to bear it graciously.

And just for today, I might put on The Hooley Dooleys instead.

13 October 2007

My 2006 Christmas Poem

A Christmas Poem (with apologies to E.A. Poe)

In this Christmas season cheery, while my baby cuddles near, he
Hears the sound of crinkly paper coming from behind his door,
So he thinks, his hands a-clapping, “Someone’s there and they aren’t napping,
Someone there is present-wrapping, safe behind my bedroom door.”
Peering low, he crouches so he spies the feet upon the floor.
“Someone’s there, of this I’m sure.”

Celebrating, we’re all munchin’ some expansive Christmas luncheon,
Sharing gifts with those we love; we know God’s gifts to us are more!
Telling jokes with bon-bons snapping, piling up the Christmas wrapping,
After lunch we’ll fall to napping, trying to suppress a snore.
Backyard cricket: all the kids are trying hard to keep the score
(Problem is: they’re eight for four!)

Times like this, by way of reason, usher in the Christmas Season
And our thanks for Baby Jesus come quite swiftly to the fore.
Mark the diary, we remember: twenty-fifth of each December
Every precious fam’ly member has been blessed with so much more
Than salvation brought by merely keeping with the ancient law!
Jesus saves for Evermore!

12 October 2007

Frog Dreams - A Key To Your Subconscious?

I woke up this morning to the sound of frogs. We've had a bit of rain recently, after many years of drought. And the little froggies have patiently waited, baked into the dry soil, for some rain like this. It doesn't take long for them to wake up, re-hydrate or whatever they do, and start croaking.

And as I lay there in the early morning light listening to the croaking, I realised that this must be why I had The Frog Dream.

It was stupid. Dreams always are. And I never dream proper storylines, I just dream situations. Nothing ever actually HAPPENS in my dreams; I just find myself in certain places with particular people and ... that's it!

In this Frog Dream, I found a frog and decided to release it outside. I was hoping it would find a home in the bushes or something, I don't know. Anyway as I let it go, I saw that I'd released it into a writhing pile of toads. And that bothered me because in my hazy dream-reality, there's a rule that you must never mix frogs with toads. I cannot tell you why. Nothing bad seemed to happen to either the frog or the toads, but I woke with a vague feeling of unease, knowing that I'd put a frog in with a pile of toads.

And this reminded me of the best Frog Dream I've ever heard. My Crazy Sister once had a dream that a frog had crawled up her pants leg and got itself firmly lodged up under her buttock. It remained stuck and thrashed wildly about trying to get out. Crazy Sister then woke up and realised that she actually had a Massive Buttock Twitch that then persisted well into the next day.

Her subconscious had perceived this Gluteous-Twitchus-Maximus and decided that in order to make sense of it, a Frog Dream was needed.

Sometimes I worry what we'd uncover if we ever broke into her subconscious.

11 October 2007

Puppity Doggity's Very Bad Day

Man it's been a tough day. My patience has been tested from the moment I was woken up early by Chubbity Bubbity, through the torment of getting Sonny-Ma-Jiminy ready for Daycare, continuing on past the preparations for the lamb roast and guests for dinner tonight, through to now - when I sit at my computer and start to blog the lot of it. Well, the bits I can remember anyway.

And yet as I reflect on a day full of difficulties thrown at me by my two lovely little ones, the frustrations that really stick out for me are the ones delivered to me by Puppity Doggity. She's insane, and today I'm not sure she's such a good addition to the family. She's a lovely two-and-a-half year old Border Collie, very personable, lovely nature, easy to train except she is completely insane with other dogs. She has this desire to grovel, ingratiate and humiliate herself in front of dogs she considers her superiors. And the flip side is that with dogs she considers her inferiors - she tries to tear them apart.

First thing this morning she breaks away while my husband takes her out to the kerb to put rubbish in the bin and she flies across the road to maul a tiny ball of white fluff on legs. Snapping, snarling, she gets her teeth involved, there's some blood, you get the picture. And within an hour, Fluff-On-Legs' owner (a complete stranger) is on our doorstep with a rather large vet bill which we're expected to pay. Puppity Doggity gets in trouble.

Then I find that she has been desperately trying to dig up the rotting carcass of some poor dumb bluetongue lizard which I found in the yard and buried over a fortnight ago. Dog in more trouble (though this time, she has no idea what she's done wrong).

And later in the day, I find that she has licked a large puddle of grease (plus cooked meat juices and the essence of a thousand Barbecues Past) from the barbecue roasting tray. Okay, so I left it on dog-level, but with Chubbity Bubbity crying all day, I DID have to leave some jobs half-done! I usually don't mind if Puppity Doggity licks the roasting tray clean - it saves me most of the cleaning. The thing that bothered me was that she gacked it up inside on the lino. (The silver lining here is that she didn't gack up on the carpet.) By this stage, I was too exhausted to work out how to punish a dog for doing a typically doggish thing and I just cleand it up, trying not to gack-up my own lunch.

And out of the thousand frustrating things that made up today, it is this dog and her insanity that will be last in my mind as I fall off to sleep.

Some days need to be totally written off.