Monday, April 22, 2013

Oxytocin levels enter the red zone.

Oxytocin, known as 1-({(4R,7S,10S,13S,16S,19R)-19-amino-​7-(2-amino-2-oxoethyl)-​10-(3-amino-3-oxopropyl)-​16-(4-hydroxybenzoyl)-​13-[(1S)-1-methylpropyl]-​6,9,12,15,18-pentaoxo-​1,2-dithia-​5,8,11,14,17-pentaazacycloicosan-4-yl}carbonyl)-​L-prolyl-​L-leucylglycinamide to its more intimate friends, is a bit of a chemical problem around here.

"Hey, I can handle it, its not that strong a drug.  Ha ha haha ha ha ha ahahahahhahhha ha haa!"

Sure, oxytocin has a bit of a rep as the hormone that stops you from abandoning the distended, slime-covered, mewling infant that has just reaped havoc with your perineum.  "Bugger that", says oxytocin, "give it a cuddle and devote the next couple of decades to meeting its every need."

No, oxytocin's real insidiousness is when it creeps up to flood level within the ordinary household.

I live with two girls, you see.  And then the husband is prone to the odd cuddlesome period himself - aided and abeted by testosterone surges in his case, there being a thin line between a cuddle and a grope.

How can you tell the oxytocin levels are red-lining?  You can't put your socks on in the morning because you are being cuddled.  You can't sort the dirty washing because there are girls wound around your legs.  Your sense of personal space is so squeezed, you contemplate running away and joining a comtemplative order where talking is forbidden and touching is right out.  

Even the cat is adding to the loving crowd, though in her case it might the onset of cold weather making me seem like an ambulating heat source.

I hate to complain but some days I am being loved to death.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mission fail on chocolate addiction.

One of my aims as a parent was to raise kids without raging sugar addictions and in particular, chocolate.  As a lifetime addict I just wanted something better for my girls.

There is a theory peddled by child development types that if you keep babies and toddlers away from very sugary food they will not develop the taste for it.  So I assiduously kept the oldest away from sweets and chocolate and even sweet yoghurt, etc.  This meant warding off shop keepers giving out toffee apples and being pretty bloody firm with grandparents, those insidious, sugar-peddling fiends.

By the time the little one got to two, the oldest was allowed the occasional lolly because she knew about them and what can you say to a three year old when she asks why she can't ever have any treats obviously targeted to children.  And so the younger one got to start earlier.

In both cases, as soon as they had sweet food they loved it.  So much for that theory.  Maybe you need to keep them clear for 30 years rather than 2-3 years, which is all I could manage in our sugar-saturated society.

Sadly, they both took to chocolate like junkies.  They get some chocolate for Christmas, Easter and their birthdays but not really any in between.  Unfortunately, as the older monster worked out, if you eak out each lot of chocolate to say, 5-10 grams per day, you can get from Christmas to mid April with almost a continual supply.

Mmmm, eggy goodness.

That supply has now ended and the sustained intake has meant they are suffering terrible withdrawals.  Like many junkies before them, they are turning to crime.

The other day when we were leaving a friend's house, two little eggs dropped out of the jumper one of the monsters was very carefully holding.  She had to go back and return them and have a solid talking-to when she got home.

Two days later, I noticed little nibble marks in my chocolate supply.  A rat?  Not one that can open a fridge.  No, that is a girl nibble.  I asked them about it and the usual shifty lies followed, but it was perfectly obvious it was the other monster this time.  More talking-to.

Maybe I should let them have a little amount each day - a chocolate methadone program.  I prefer not. I prefer for them to dry out and have a chance to wind back their addictions.  (Best not to point out that I have a daily dose.  At least I have moved past the (extended) period of my life where I could not have any in the house lest I scoff the lot.)

In any case I think we can comprehensively fail my mission to have savoury-preferring children.  Sadly, I think the theory was crap and the application insufficient in length.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy anniversary, dear husb.

Tomorrow will be the anniversary of our 8th year together.  As you know I am not keen on cards so here is a blob instead.

Looking back on this time, I feel it is apprope to make several comments on how things have gone so far.

Firstly, we made nice kids.  Obviously a bit crafty and lazy in the cleaning up department, but generally, they are a delight.  Our genetic combination has produced girls who bunny hop to the loo when they realise the morning wee is overdue, and who pick 'love' as their favourite word starting with 'l' for their alphabet reminder poster.

Secondly, with some stress and hearty discussion here and there, we ride the changes together, whether these have been financial, health-related or in terms of our time management.  I particularly love that you learned to cook and the roast chicken with almonds, olives and mustard served with a rocket mountain is magnificient.  Thank you.

Thirdly, we are getting older.  Aside from the droopy bits, grey bits, tired spells, etc, I am looking forward to continuing to do this with you.  Some time in the next 15 years we may have more time to spend talking together about topics other than plumbing repairs and paying gymnastics fees.  I look forward to that time and in particular I love the fact that I have no idea what topics may arise.  Probably most of them.

Finally, and I am aware of your concurrent view on this, we need more time together - nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Cat stalks beagle.

A few weeks after we got Toast, then a little ball of furry snooziness, we started letting her out in the garden.  After the first week of tentativeness she discovered the cat entrance to the shed and dashed in there and hid whenever she was outside.  She gradually got braver but the scratch evidence suggested that, in fights, she was either running away or lying passively on her back. 

Then she grew some more. 

A couple of days ago I came home to find a tom hanging around the front yard.  This is the same tom that tortured  Mousie in the last few months of her life and left unpleasant fragrances and heaps around the back door just to make it perfectly clear that poor little Mouse had ceded her territory in her decrepitude.  (The cat world is a cruel one.)

Later, the husband heard a cat fight and dashed outside to see the stripey tom and Toast flash by, with the tom in the lead

Then, today, a beagle came into the garden.  Toast disappeared into the basil patch then 20 seconds later came out and started stalking the beagle.  The beagle got slightly freaked (as you would being stalked by a smallish cat) and went and hid behind the disused chicken yard.

Lets face it, our little Toasty has hit her prime.  Bring on the wildebeest.

Just watch the horns Toasty, and save me the ribs - I have a recipe.

Absence of menace.

One of the things that has gone the way of the dodo as a result of this whole child raising gig is menace.  I mean, I never had oodles of it laying about - the odd scary book or movie but not lots.  It all began when I was preggers when even the news could reduce me to a sobbing mess.

Nearly eight years later and I have never really recovered.

I was recently loaned a book by a friend about a 12 year old who kills someone.  I read the back of the book and that was creepy enough.  I decided that whatever had happened to the character to make him decide to kill people by the time he was 12, it was not in my interests to find out.  If my children get arrested in a few years with a sneer and a smoking gun I may well regret it, having completely missed the early signs.

I remember the day when I realised I had probably changed forever.  I was on leave from work looking after the first baby.  At that time I was working in an area that dealt with some - ahem - pretty dark topics.  I had visited a friend at work and was on my way out of the office struggling with the secure entrance door.  Some older bloke was coming in the other way and he held the door for the pram and he said, in an avuncular manner, "Ah, a future employee, I assume".  I said, "No", quite sharply, with a "over my runny corpse" undertone.

I could not imagine my wide-eyed little pip, who didn't even know how to keep a mouthful of mush from sliding sideways out of her mouth, working in such a terrible field.  It is not as though the work is not necessary but I just couldn't stand the thought that she would one day know the things I learned at work.

When I returned to work I swapped jobs within a couple of weeks and began working on climate change - a much cheerier issue all around.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chatting about nipples.

One of the charms of bringing up children is the conversations you have, nipples being a case in point.  If you are 5, you have no idea why your nipples are different from Mum's and what yours may turn out like.  Best ask.

I was watching a very silly movie the other day that included a girl about the same age as my older girl.  She asked her mother about how babies were made. Her mother asked what she thought happened.  The explanation, fresh from the labyrinthine mind of the girl was weird and highly inaccurate (unless I did it wrong, which is possible though unlikely because I did end up with babies - I certainly don't remember a big flap opening at the top of my backside).

Then her mother, in order to ease social embarrassment (there were others present), and presumably because uptight puritanism is preferable to giving your children accurate information, lied her tail off and said, "Yes, that is right."

I try to be accurate.   I also try to give the right amount of information.  Two year olds probably need to know where babies are squeezed out but not about cervical dilation as an indicator of progress of labour.

When my mother was a lassie, being a nice Catholic girl at an all-girls school she was held in complete biological ignorance.  It was probably not a deliberate policy of her mother, just generational embarrassment.  My mother got lucky.  She had a much older sister studying medicine.  A quiet but solid read of one of her sister's text-books later and a whole class of pre-teens had a better understanding of the technical aspects of procreation than they were ever getting from their parents or the elderly nuns.  That is assuming my mother understood the text and reproduced it accurately.  Frankly, even a garbled version was probably better than myth, rumour and a nasty surprise in the back of some boy's car.

The main piece of sexual advice my mum got, nun-style, was that if you were going to chance death and or damnation by sitting on a boy's lap, make sure there was a phone book there first.  The nuns probably knew less about the technicalities than my 11 year old mother.

You can't tell from the photo but those Domincans were all wearing slinky ballgowns under their habits.

My own parents tried to be honest but they did cop out a bit and buy us each a book aimed at our developmental level.  My 4 year older brother's book turned out to be the most interesting one.  Mine was kind of dull.

Anyway, onward ho with nipples and "how does the sperm meet the egg" conversations.  At least the monsters have the ground work.  Without a rooster about, hen eggs won't ever hatch. 

Call me a doctor.  This chicken/ rooster looks remarkably like my husband.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mushroom hunt curtailed due to flappy feet.

On Saturday we went on a picnic.  The location was a planting of northern hemisphere trees in the middle of a forest of eucalyptus in the mountains.  We were off to gaze at the Autumn mushroom crop.

A perfect day for a stroll in a forest.

It involved several kilometres of walking each way.  Shh - no one tell the little monster - she will be too tired.

Given the distance, I opt for boots.  Admittedly purchased in 1996 and worn hard for a number of years, a little torn on the inside lining but they looked good for one more outing.  It has been several years since I wore them.  I repeat, they looked good.

One kilometre up the path, what is that attached to my boot flapping about - ooops - the sole.  And the other is just as bad.  Stop, sit in a patch of spiky bombs (term coined by little monster circa 2012), husband does repairs from the first aid kit.  Luckily the tape is similarly elderly and has developed a vicious stickiness.

The shoes make it to the arboretum.  We gaze at some mushrooms, eat a magnificent picnic and note the interestingly large variety of some weird insect we have no idea what - it looks like a pileup on a luggage carousel.

Sadly the mushrooms were not prolific.  The husband and I got into an argument over varieties.  "Edible", I said, "hallucinogenic", he said.  Luckily we weren't tempted to try.  In an unlikely turn of events, he was right.  Toxic, too.

Hello Fly Agaric.  Your spots are charming.

We sloop back along the path, all foot weary.  I am pronating like a champion as my soles depart in strange directions.  More taping in transit. 

Ah, back to the car.  Boots cut off, oh no, I forgot to wee first.  Good thing no cars went by.  Sorry ants.

Yippee for tape.