Sunday, January 30, 2011

A child’s first pet

Disclaimer:  May I preface this post with the reassurance to all readers that we are strong supporters of RSPCA and the work that they do.

There comes a point in any child’s life when you consider, should we get a family pet?  If so, what would suit your lifestyle? Does your child display any affinity with animals?  Do you, for that matter? Which animal does your child particularly like?

Taking baby elephants and tigers out of the equation, we considered the easy option as a starter kit!  Seeing a relationship was struck up with Max the fish at Hotel Maximilian in Prague, we thought an aquatic version was the ideal solution.

At this point in time a fish was perfect.  They are low maintenance, feeding is simple and inexpensive, they don’t make much mess, they are quiet, they don’t take up a lot of room and they are easy to relocate if you are going on holidays! Perfect!

Now all we had to decide was what sort of fish!  Wow, if you have never been into a fish shop (and I don’t mean the variety with salt and vinegar on the counter), it is worth a trip.  I had no idea the variety and cost such a hobby presents!

Being that this was a first pet, and considering the owner was to be an enthusiastic nearly two year old, we thought something resilient, robust and tough would be best.

Max version 1.2, the Siamese fighting fish, joined our digs over the festive season and was welcomed with that great aforementioned enthusiasm.  The short one displayed appropriate due care and was very fond of her new pet in a hands-off sort of way.

That was until today…

After breakfast, the short one took it upon herself to share.  Spoon in hand, she launched it into the small fish bowl and vigorously started to stir.  Max was caught in a hurricane whirl, swirling and swirling, around and around.

Quickly, we put a stop to this sudden erratic weather event, all the while explaining that we mustn’t put anything in Max’s bowl. 

All things settle again … until … the short one manoeuvered her plate into the bowl…

Max 1.2 is now in therapy on the kitchen bench…with a full belly, some clean water and an understanding counsellor, he is back to cruising around aimlessly.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A person's a person, no matter how small.

Dr Seuss...again!

Our little person is fast approaching the second anniversary of her birth.  Turning two is a significant milestone on many fronts…
  • She is no longer an infant and now requires her own seat on a plane
  • She has enough teeth in her head to warrant an introduction to a dentist
  • She has her own passport, bank account and tax file number
Yes, that’s right…a tax file number!

Clearly the Secretary to the Treasury, Dr Ken Henry missed something in his 2010 Australian tax review.

The Big Four, to which they are affectionately referred, all keenly market ‘fee free’ bank accounts for children.  They blatantly encourage the upcoming generation to save and budget, all the while conning their parents, in the hope that one day these kids will turn into adults looking for hefty mortgages.

As parents, we wanted to secure the short one’s educational future by establishing our own fund by opening one of these ‘fee free’, high interest bank accounts for children.  Into this account we deposited the ‘baby bonus’ and have continued to feather the nest egg with weekly deposits.

Until…the short one was hit with a hefty tax bill…directly swiped out of the account! No warning, no explanation, no way!

Upon further investigations, we have discovered this tax will continue to be debited from the account each and every month until we provide the bank with a tax file number. The bank personnel were less than interested in the fact that their recalcitrant TFN-withholding customer was less than two years old!  We were told in no uncertain terms…no TFN…no tax-free threshold!

So…back to where we started…the short one will very soon be the proud owner of her very own TFN, alongside her own passport, library card, medicare card, bank card…

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Growing up...

From the moment a baby is born, time gathers momentum leaving you wondering where did it go. Milestones for which you yearn quickly pass…

Hand in hand with changes comes a degree of loss…not necessarily articulated, but felt deeply nonetheless.  Change is at times perceived, but not always expressed. It is something you can see and feel, but not necessarily touch.  It is like our shadow behind us, while at the same time walking with us.

The existentialist in me then begins to question, if we can’t touch it, taste it, see it, hear it - does it exist? Does it have to be tangible to be real?

While Maslow put our need for love, connectedness and belonging into a hierarchical framework, we all know that life has little meaning without it.

How do you touch love?  With a gentle stroke across a baby’s cheek…
How do you taste love?  With a kiss…
How do you see love? In the eyes which behold you...
How do you hear love? With the words ‘I love you’…

Is it tangible? Is it discernible? Is it perceptible?  Yes, yes and yes.

What one person perceives is another person’s blind spot.  It doesn’t mean its value is in anyway diminished.

Love is all encompassing and with that inevitably comes a sense of loss.

Embrace the moment, treasure the past and know that there will always be a tomorrow.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Extending a hand...

As the waters slowly recede, the full indiscriminate devastation begins to reveal itself.
People’s family … homes … livelihoods … lost.

Driving through some of the worst flood affected areas, you begin to get a glimpse of the enormity of this state wide disaster.  Many have likened it to a war zone.  Heavy army vehicles are moving into suburban streets armed with the duty of removing the debris of people’s lives.

Thousands upon thousands of volunteers have formed their own army.  Moving into some of the worst areas, cleaning out people’s houses.  Mostly strangers to those who they help, but strengthening everyone’s resolve…together we can overcome this.

Queenslanders are amazingly resilient people. Despite all that has been endured, many can still raise a smile and extend a hand.

Our recovery has only just begun.  A long journey stretches out before us.  Together we will overcome this.

Please consider extending your hand to those in greatest need…Premier's Flood Relief Appeal

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

'Our darkest hour'

In the haunting words of Queensland’s Premier, this is our darkest hour.  

Queensland has faced and is still yet to face some of the most devastating effects of Mother Nature.

Thousands have been evacuated, with more to come.  Lives have been lost; many more are still missing.

While we sit in wait, we watch incredible scenes on TV, unimaginable destruction left in the wake of an inland tsunami.

Our prayers and thoughts are with all of our fellow Queenslanders.

Please consider supporting the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Motherhood…that’s what it’s all about!

I have been having ‘moments’ lately. ‘Moments’ that make me stop and think, ‘Oh my God, what has happened to me?’

I suppose being, what the medical profession endearingly call, of ‘an advanced maternal age’, I had more time than some to become more set in my ways before being initiated into the world of parenting.  So much so that these ‘moments’ often bring me to a screeching halt, asking of myself…is this what this mothering gig is all about and why didn't anyone warn me?

Just let me put these notions to you and see if you know what I mean...

  1. You feel it is necessary to animatedly discuss subjects such as haemorrhoids, nipple cracking, constipation and flatus with anyone who cares to listen and even those who don't.
  2. You think that discussing bowel movements is acceptable dinner party conversation.
  3. Romantic time with your partner is now subsumed by conversation around the price of nappies at Coles this week.
  4. All of a sudden you start to refer to yourself as ‘mummy’ and your partner as ‘daddy’ and your mother as ‘grandma’.
  5. You think any movie screening on free to air and out of prime time season is a new release.
  6. You keep a second fridge downstairs full of milk and frozen bread, just to have that conveniently located corner store feeling.
  7. You keep a tube of antibacterial waterless hand wash in your handbag for those escaped faeces moments.
  8. You have thought long enough about point 7 to do something about it.
  9. You can’t remember the last time you read a book that wasn’t illustrated.
  10. You spontaneously burst into song whilst rocking down the aisles of the shopping centre…’wiggerly woo, wiggerly woo, let’s all do the wiggerly woo’
  11. You know the names of all of the toys and presenters on Playschool.
  12. You think the maker of ‘In the Night Garden’ clearly had a drug problem.
  13. You seriously consider replacing the child’s birthday with annual celebrations of parenthood.
  14. Your iPhoto gallery is completely focused on one event…the child.
  15. You can’t relieve yourself without a short person helpfully proffering wipes.
  16. You have to pack three bags every time you venture out of the house; a food bag, a toy bag and a nappy bag; as if you were heading into the wilds of Borneo for 6 months.

But then…you know you have hit rock bottom when you hear yourself saying what you always said you would never say if you ever had kids…those golden moments when you become your own mother!

How many times do I have to tell you…
Do that again and you’ll know about it…
I’ve told you once…
Try that again, madam, and…
That’s it!

Precious moments that will live long in our memories…and no doubt will repeat themselves in the next generation.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ode to Fatherhood

As we fast approach the short one’s second birthday, it gives reason to pause and consider all that has transpired since her arrival.  

I think the most amazing transformation throughout that time is seeing someone so dear to my heart become the most loving father ever…a true gift in anyone's eyes.

It reminded me of a poem that I have treasured since my own childhood.  A poem that to this day still evokes amazing feelings of tears and joy.  You can’t help but sense the love emerge from every verse.  Written in 1860 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, it describes his undying love for his own three daughters…

The Children's Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupation,
That is know as the children's hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes,
They are plotting and planning together,
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me,
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all?

I have you fast in my fortress
And will not let you depart,
But put you down in the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

Alice, Edith and Annie Allegra
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's daughters

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Old Macdonald had a farm

Our local shopping centre quite frequently plays host to a petting farm during the school holidays.  They haven’t been there this Christmas though, due to the many other forms of entertainment on hand – and I use the term 'entertainment' loosely.  

Aside from the 'Fat Man', at one stage there we were treated to a number of psychics, willing to impart your entire future in 2 minutes, all for the price of a Coles docket.

The seed of a career path must have been sown in the short one’s psyche, as today we were heading to the shops to pick up some essentials when she declares from the back seat of the car that we were going to feed the ‘sheeps’. I immediately denounce such an idea, knowing full well that there were no ovines within cooee of our excursion, other than the pre-packaged variety.

Upon arrival at said shopping centre I was quickly disabused of my previous declarations. 

There before us was quite a large collection of not only lambs, but kids, piglets, ducklings and chicks in various shapes and sizes.

Clearly she knew better!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

No one is youer than you this New Year!

(with apologies to Theodor Seuss Geisel)

While the Festive season can prove to be a stressful time for many, some time ago I decided that you can’t please all of the people all of the time…so why even try? The people that mean the most to you are the loved ones with which you should be.  Life is too short to waste it on those who register below the radar!

With the New Year ringing in opportunities to be explored, blessings to be counted, friends and family to be treasured, I have resolved to remain true to myself. You must stay true to your convictions, stand firm on your beliefs and resist compromising your values.

In the words of the inimitable Dr Seuss, 'Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.' 

Wishing all of our loved ones a New Year that means the world to you, sprinkled with a bit of green eggs and ham!