Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Yep. Its been a while. Much has happened. Little will be revealed because much has also been forgotten. Today's post will not be in Pirate-Speak.

DW's parents have recently returned from a tour of the North and so DW was very keen to visit them. They live far enough away that it is better to stay overnight and its a nice little weekend away. The trip isn't as much fun as it used to be. Princess can talk the legs of a horse, as our pony, Stumps McWhinny will attest. Most kids will enjoy a long, warm car ride by dozing quietly or, like Little Man, slipping into a temporary coma. Princess unfortunately takes two hours to fall asleep and the trip is two hours and five minutes long. And she always says the same thing when she wakes up; "I was alseep." Anyway, the long-absent grandparents were greeted at first by a sort of fake coyness, followed by strangling hugs. Princess expresses affection by wrapping her arms around a person's neck and squeezing until the gasping stops. If love hurts, unconditional love can be lethal. DW and I watch and giggle to ourselves for a while before prising her away from her victim. Fortunately, with both grandparents attending, one recovers while the other is choked. Throw in a favourite uncle and his partner and there were choking blue people everywhere. We had arrived.

We usually have a nice, quiet time at the grandparents place and this visit was no exception. They live in a small country town and have a big garden surrounding the house which makes it feel even more isolated. The quiet serenity is punctured all too frequently by someone yelling at Princess to get off something, off someone, don't give the baby that, where are your clothes, put your boots on if you're going outside, take your boots off if you're coming inside, are these you muddy footprints all over the clean carpet, you can't be still hungry, sit down while you're eating, I thought I told you to take those boots off, just the boots not all your clothes, I know your hungry, get off the baby, don't eat that and aren't you cold without your clothes on.

This time, Little Man made his presence felt because he is up and running and occasionally falling down. He babbles in baby speak though occasionally he will say "Dadadadad". He answers most questions with a determined ignoring but if he feels up to providing an answer it is always "No!" with a quick shake of the head and a big smile. I amuse myself by asking questions to which the answer "No" will be funny, like "Are you a big man?", "Can you ride a horse?" and "Does E = MC squared?". He always says "No" and I crack up. He also thinks its funny but I don't think he really understands the "ride a horse" question.

He did manage to momentarily draw our attention away from Princess the other day when he had a pronounced allergic reaction to something. It wasn't serious in so far as his respoitory system wasn't compromised and he didn't have to stop eating while his skin went red and his face swelled up. He did notice his great big lips made it a little awkward to get food in but that didn't stop Little Man. He kept on shovelling whatever he could get his hands on straight in. DW quickly took him to the local GP who was able to control the reaction but unfortunately we were not able to come to a reasonable conclusion as to what the cause might be. DW had given him egg earlier that day but he has had egg in other foods before. We had also had a delivery of pea straw as mulch for our new backyard. And we had a bit of a gale the day before which has meant lots of dust and stuff had gotten in the house. And Little Man eats anything he picks up. So we are left with a bottle of Phenergan and his name on a waiting list a month long to see an allergy specialist. At least it didn't upset him.

Anyway, that's all I have time for at the moment.


Thought for the Day: Why are chips not counted as "vegetables"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Today is Talk Like A Pirate Day. Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day. Today's blog will be in pirate speak, in honour of Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Arrr, so aft t' last week. After th' Dingo tide came th' buildin' o' th' vegie bunks tide, then th' garden bunk edgin' an' th' sand pit deepenin'. Unfortunately, Wee Man has nay been bunkin' well at all so DW an' I ben takin' 't in turns t' look after th' lad's at night. On accoun' o' I had spent th' tide ridin' around on th' aft o' th' Dingo (which be actually hard work - 'tis so!) DW tookst an extra night, so I would be refreshed when th' timber be delivered th' followin' mornin'. I be refreshed like a fish lyin' on its side in a desert, gaspin' fer water an' one solitary drop o' rain hits 't on th' side o' th' face, one centimeter from its bung hole.

But me inability t' focus properly or form sentences has nerestopped me from usin' power tools so ou' I sailed' t' build some vegie bunks. DW be able t' help fer a while until Princess an' Wee Man drew th' lass' away in a cunnin' ploy consistin' o' incessant naggin' fer food an' a smelly nappy that e'en bein' outdoors couldna mask. I could tell she be reluctant t' leave me on me own but I assured th' lass' that very wee could possibly go wrong. Anyway, what could go wrong, did go wrong. Th' REALLY hard clay be also peppered wi' lumps o' rock an' a couple o' me stakes didna go in straight, which has resulted in a couple o' th' bunks bein' a wee irregular. An' thar be a couple o' gaps. An' some gaffer tape. But otherwise 't came up really adequate.

Then we had a eyeball th' sand pit I be buildin' fer Princess an' Wee Man. We had already agreed that Wee Man no' be allowed t' use th' new sandpit until he has stopped eatin' sand on accoun' o' 't be pretty expensive an' we still had some o' th' bilge watery old stuff about. So Princess be jus' about beside herself when I started clearin' th' section fer th' lass' sandpit. Now I had broken up th' clay wi' th' Dingo but DW decided th' sand pit would be too shallow so I had t' go down another 10 t' 15 centimeters. Fortunately 'tis only a 2m x 2m area. I got me mattock an' I attacked 't like a crazy swabbie durin' a full moon. 't tookst me about four hours. Me whole body be sore an' shakin' on accoun' o', as I mentioned last high tide', me mattock`s shiny yellow plastic handle dasn't absorb ANY o' th' shock.

Then came time t' get th' soil. Me older laddie, whom I shall call Shteve, an avid landscaper, came o'er t' help. We borrowed a trailer from th' husband o' a matey o' DW`s whose buxom beauty supports his Media Centre efforts. We bought a lot o' dirt. 't seemed a lot t' pay fer dirt. I dasn't really like payin' fer dirt. 't jus' dasn't seem starboard somehow. Anyway, th' "organic compound" we bought be arr jus' about th' best dirt ye can get an' so we got a lot. On accoun' o' we can only get into our aftyard via th' garage, we had t' use th' trailer rather than a single truck load. 't did make 't easier t' spread th' dirt ou' but 't be a nightmare tryin' t' aft th' trailer through. I be nay big wi' th' whole drivin' o' th' car fore let alone aftward an' so puttin' a trailer full o' very expensive dirt on th' aft wasn`t th' best idee. DW an' Shteve stood on either side o' th' door through which th' trailer be supposed t' go an' laughed an' laughed an' laughed. I`d be havin' laughed too if I wasn`t sweatin' like a pig, cranin' me neck t' be seein' behind an' really, really angry. After about ten attempts an' several refusals from DW an' Shteve t' be havin' a go, I finally got th' trailer into th' garage aftwards. DW kindly suggested we jus' push 't th' rest o' th' way an' I agreed. I had t' do that nine times. Th' final time I jus' drove th' car straight into th' aftyard an' used a technique I learned from an Austin Powers movie t' turn around again.

Durin' this whole adventure, Princess be playin' in th' increasin' piles o' expensive dirt, gettin' more expensive herself by th' minute. At one point I be about t' tell th' lass' nay t' play in th' dirt wi' th' lass' socks on, when I realised she wasn`t wearin' any socks. In fact, I be nay e'en sure if she be wearin' britches. When she finally got into th' bath that night, 't be like puttin' a bucket full o' black grog into clear hot water.

Anyway, more next high tide'.


Thought for the Day: Damn! My new leaf looks the same on the other side.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Some people suffer in silence. Not me. I'm sore. I want the world to know.

Its been a little while since I last posted a blog. The reason is I have been on holidays. When I say holidays, I mean labour camp. I may or may not have mentioned my dislike for gardening. I may or may not have mentioned my barren wasteland of a backyard. I may or may not have mentioned DW's plans to transform our backyard to a something Jamie Durie might feel comfortable in (her metaphor, not mine). Anyway, we have been discussing how to approach this dilemna for some time and finally, I took a week and a half off work to give this whole garden makeover caper a bit of a try.

Now, I'm no Jamie Durie (so I am reminded) but I figured that I could wield a mattock as well as the next man, so long as he also worked in IT and hated gardening. A while back I bought a shiny new mattock with a bright yellow plastic handle and just to see how well it would work, I had a go at the backyard. We have clay in our backyard. Lots of clay. And we also get some pretty hot weather. So our clay has baked pretty hard. Anyway, when I swung my shiny new mattack with the bright yellow plastic handle down onto our sun-baked clay, expecting the sharp metal edge to disappear with a thud, I was a little disappointed. Firstly, the blade did not sink into the clay, but rather bounced and made a chinging sound like metal on concrete. A tiny powdery dint now marked the surface of the clay, the only evidence that anything had happened. Other than the fact that I was now dancing around the backyard shaking my hands vigorously because apparently the bright yellow plastic handle doesn't absorb ANY of the bone-jarring shock. DW popped her head out to ask what was happening. I told her it was likely to be a bit slow with just the mattock.

Anyway, last week, I decided that the only thing to do was hire some heavy machinery. We don't have access to our backyard from the rear so the heavy machinery would have to come in through the garage. I considered using a bobcat but I really wanted a rotary hoe. And I don't mean a hand-held rotary hoe, because I used one of those at the front of our house with DW's dad and it didn't work nearly as well as I hoped. So I opted for a Dingo with a rotary hoe attachment. In fact, I opted for the biggest, diesel-powered Dingo on the lot.

I have never used a Dingo before nor anything like it. There are twelve controls on the control panel and they are arranged to provide the experienced user with easy reach to everything, and to baffle the hell out of newbies. Fortunately for me, the hire place runs an introductory training course which runs from 9:30am to 9:31am with a 30 second break. Also, the drive home was fun because the family station wagon and a large, diesel-powered Dingo on a reinforced trailer weigh pretty much the same. The only advice given by my instructor and new-found mentor (we really bonded in the last 15 seconds) was to try a stay out of enclosed spaces and to start on something that didn't matter too much. And to buckle up on the way home.

So, I finally got home, white as a sheet, and drove the car into our backyard. Ten minutes later, I was zipping around the backyard like a mad man. Turns out the lever I used for forward was actually the throttle and what I thought was the throttle was actually to raise the bucket and the levers for steering are counter-intuitive and the best way to get somewhere was to try and drive away from it. Brakes weren't mentioned and they probably should have been. As it happens, I managed to get the hang of it before destroying the fence (only one pailing came off and I nailed it right back up, twice). A few minutes later I was zipping around the backyard, not like a madman (you could tell because I wasn't screaming and sweating like a fountain), but like a man with a purpose. And that purpose was to transform the backyard. I had a mission, and I chose to accept it and didn't self-destruct in five seconds. I plowed and hoed and dug and twisted and turned and sculpted and churned. It was like a ballet on ice, though instead of ice we had clay, and instead of ballerinas we had something more like a metal hippo with a flatulence problem. And of course, the Dingo.

Finally, it was done. I had done as much damage as one man can do in a miniature bulldozer. Even DW was impressed, noting my "on-the-fly" adapting of the plan as a stroke of adequacy with extra helpings of "it'll do" and a dash of "can't read a frikken plan". Anyway, with some creative genius, DW devised a new plan to make it all work and so I reluctantly drove the Dingo back to the yard and prepared myself for the following day of gardening/landscaping. At least I'd be in my element for part of the day, when I was building the garden beds. But that can wait until tomorrow.


Thought for the Day: Should people who don't live at the top floor of apartment blocks refer to God as "the man upstairs"?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

NEWSFLASH: Hell has frozen over!

Little Man cut his long awaited top tooth. Princess asks to go to bed! Husband not *complete* idiot! One of these stories is simply not true!

Well, Father's Day has come and gone. It was somewhat overshadowed by the above news. Little Man didn't have his tooth through at morning tea time. By lunch time however, he was like a saber-tooth tiger that had just got his sabers. Well, saber anyway. Actually, it was just this little white fleck peeking through the swollen gums but there it was. I suspect it actually came through when he did a face plant into the kitchen bench. Yes, the Bench of Unyielding has claimed another victim, bringing forth the Tooth of "we-waited-for-six-sleepless-weeks-for-that-tiny-thing"! Great! Another how many to go?

And in other completely unexpected news, Princess actually asked to go to bed. And it wasn't because she had stashed supplies of yummy food under her bed in case dinner was crap, which it never is. She actually wanted to go to sleep. She had had several days of rigourous activity and had just gotten over a cold so that might have contributed, but by 7 o'clock on which ever night it was, she was fast asleep and didn't wake up until 3am, when she told me she had a bad dream and her feet hurt. I asked her why her feet hurt and she said they didn't, it was in the bad dream. So I took her back to bed and told her that she should not worry about her feet or the bad dream. She didn't want to go back into the dream and have sore feet again. I told her that when she went to sleep, it would be a completely new bad dream and there was no telling what might hurt until she got there, so not to worry about her feet. About an hour later she came in to tell me that she'd had a bad dream where someone was chasing her and Big Ted and I asked her how her feet were. She said they were fine and I said, "There you go. All better. Now go back to bed until 7(am). Don't make me chase you."

We were mistaken when we assumed that once Little Man cut his tooth he would start sleeping through again. Unfortunately, he had gotten himself into a routine of waking up in pain. Well, the pain was gone but why give up a perfectly annoying routine if you don't have to. And what's even better, now when he wakes up for his 2am rant, he feels fine so he plays and laughs and giggles and bangs and kicks the wall and tries to reach stuff and says things like, "dadad gloddle oddle bup oddoo blupeeiiieeeee glurdle dadddaadd mmmmmmmmm. Hi." Its cute the first few times and then its really annoying. The first few times ended two days ago.

Anyway, back to Father's Day. Well, in my house, Father's Day apparently means Father's Turn. Up at 6am to feed Little Man, change nappy, burp Little Man, wipe up vomit, put Little Man to bed, try and convince Princess that its not time to get up or sing, almost make it back to bed, try to settle Little Man, change nappy, get breakfast for Princess to try and shut her up, get breakfast for Little Man to try and shut him up, wipe up breakfast, wipe up Little Man, change nappy, change Little Man, change TV channel for Princess, change channel again looking for cartoons that Princess likes, finding "Lion King" DVD, getting Little Man out of high chair, wipe up vomit, grab God knows what out of Little Man's mouth, fix DVD for Princess, find biscuit for Little Man, sooth grumpy Little Man, put Little Man into bed, lie Little Man down, lie Little Man down, lie Little Man down, give Little Man bonjella, lie Little Man down, walk out on Little Man standing in his wooden cage laughing at his daddy, sit down in lounge room and ponder the possibility of going back to sleep in the five minutes remaining before 7am. No point. Besides, I knew if I wanted any more pampering for the rest of the day, I'd better let DW have some sleep.

When DW did finally get up, it was present time. I got a huge Toblerone chocolate thing from Little Man and a cap and some araldite from Princess, and a really cool router kit from DW. Didn't see that coming. Actually, that's true. I was hoping she wouldn't get the cheapest router she could find and instead she gets not only a very good router, but a whole set of bits and stuff to go with it. Now I really have to clean up the garage. Princess also made some stuff for me at Kinder. She gave me a keyring with her photo, a card she had made herself and a hanky with a picture of me painted on it. Or possibly a picture of what she expects will happen to the hanky the next time I get a cold. She said it was me but it could still go either way. She also drew a picture of me on a card with a bunch of things she knew about me. Like, how handsome I am, cold season notwithstanding. That I was "maybe six" years old and I like Pepsi Max and watching movies and Buffy on TV. I like strawberries and yogurt, playing catch and brushing her hair, which makes me sound more gay than I really am. Still, it was the best part of the whole day for me. What can I say?


Thought for the Day: Thou shalt not change thy wife's desktop image

Friday, September 01, 2006

Spring, spring, spring, spring, spring!

Yes, in case you missed it, it's finally Spring! We made it through Winter. I like to pat myself on the back every time I make it through Winter because I achieve so little otherwise. And by the way, I have been unwell for the last couple of days and so haven't been blogging. Its amazing how feeling unwell makes me want to not blog. Anyway, I'm feeling better and its Spring and I'm convalescing and DW would like me to take a few minutes to herself and do something constructive. Or blog.

Ok, so time to catch everyone up on things at my house. Well, we had Little Man's second party for his first birthday and I actually finished his little truck. After adding wheels, it was definitely a truck so that's what we are calling it. It actually looked pretty good and he was able to push it along and ride on it. It looked like he might have been really interested in it until someone got him a shiny plastic trike that has stickers and rolls smoothly and doesn't hurt to sit on. I've decided to assume that the problem is just that I haven't painted his truck yet and all will be well when he sees his bright red truck with fire licks down the side and the superglue sets on his fancy little trike.

Toys are getting smarter. One of Little Man's toys is a car dashboard thing. It has a steering wheel and indicators and horn and a little dashboard car person thingy. It makes a carcophony of sounds but here is the kicker. If you play with it for a little while making all sorts of crazy and increasingly annoying noises, you get told off and told its a kids toy, for Pete's sake. So you walk away and slump down at the table and look at said toy longingly, knowing that if you touch it, well, on a scale of 1 to 10, it wouldn't be good. Obviously intended to draw a toddler's attention back to itself, the toy waits for a couple of minutes and bursts back into life. Needless to say, a surprised look is not enough to shield one from suspicion.

Apart from his truck, all of Little Man's toys make some sort of noise. Princess likes to see if she can get all of them going at once to create a kind of carnival atmosphere. Little Man eats the wrapping paper and plays in the boxes. Next year he will actually enjoy the toys. When he hits three, he will finally understand that it is HIS birthday and not just a lucky day when people give him stuff.

So now we are passed the birthdays for the year. Its something of a relief. After proving just how good I am at carpentering, DW has decided to focus my attention on the backyard. Apparently we have decided that the weeds have to go and we need something resembling a structure, a plan. So we drew up our plan and we argued about the merits of the plan and drew up another and debated the virtues of the new plan and then drew up a third plan and disagreed on the pros and cons and so on. A few reams of paper later, we settled on a plan DW liked and we thought about how we would achieve this new wonder of the world. It was decided that we would do things in stages. So we started by drawing up a plan. I get the feeling its going to take a while to get this done.

Also, the bedroom has been delayed. But I have decided to take some time off from work and get the rest of the things we need to finish and DW has agreed to paint stuff and we are hoping to finish by the end of September. At least we have already agreed on the plan. We just have to find the time. Did I mention we have kids?

Lastly, tomorrow is Father's Day and DW has headed off to Bunnings to do some shopping. Bunnings is the perenial backup for presents for me. Whenever DW can't think of anything or runs out of time, she goes to the Bunnings drive-through-for-women which asks only two questions, "Cars, gardens or wood?" and "How much?". This year DW started fishing for ideas a few weeks back. Catalogues were left lying about. The following week, a highlighter appeared beside the catalogues. Then DW started to ask me what I was working on or what my Dad might want. Then she mentioned that Father's Day was coming up. Then she mentioned that a bloody hint would be good. Then she said what do I want for Father's Day and to be specific. I said I would like a router. She said, "There, now, that wasn't to hard now was it? Any normal person would have known how to leave a hint." Three days later she said, "What the hell is a router? Do they have them at the drive-through?"

DW is actually great when it comes to buying me gifts. She tries really hard and usually comes up with great ideas, even ones I wouldn't have thought of myself. For my birthday she bought me a hammock which is big enough for two. Unfortunately, Princess ALWAYS wants to get in with me, which reduces the relaxation component and increases the desire-to-throttle-but-can't coefficient. It might be ok if she'd just lie still but she has a condition whereby she is acutely annoying. DW also bought me the most beautiful, wonderful, shiny drill bit set which I open occasionally to look at but am too afraid to use. I think she is going to get me a router tomorrow. I can't wait!


Thought for the Day: I don't know Jack Squat. Or his brother, Diddly