Archive for November, 2012

Not Feeling the Love?

November 29, 2012

Possum is 6 years and 6 months

Bandicoot is 4 years and 4 months

Little Princess is 1 year and 11 months (23 months)

 

So here is the thing.  Recently we got some new members of the family.  We have three stinky, furry rodents with great big fangs sweet little guinea pigs living in a mini Taj Mahal in the backyard.

These poor critters are being traumatised… er, I mean, loved to death by our kids. 

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The Rats Casey (on the left), Rocky to the bottom and Miss Fast

We inherited these guys from some friends of ours.  Their son is Possum’s best friend, but since then the Mum, N, and I have become great friends and J’s little sister has become great mates with Bandicoot.  N is a vet (a really cool vet – a zookeeper vet!) so they are used to having a menagerie. 

When they bred their guinea pigs, we decided to relieve the pet shop of some of the load and venture into the world of small furries, much to the kids’ delight.

But here is the thing.  I am not a vet.  Not even an ordinary kind.  And although they are kinda cute, they really stink.  And they poo and wee in the food bowl which just makes a disgusting mess for me each morning.  I can cope with the hutch (now that we have enough newspaper to line it) and with the food, but the food bowl and the – eek – cuddling them… well, gross.

The kids love them, but only Possum can really handle them.  Try telling that to Bandicoot.  And thereby hangs the tale.

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Bandicoot and Rocky – of course he knows everything there is to know…

You see, I am forever rescuing the poor blighters from playing with Bandicoot especially; trying to readjust his grip; trying to get him to hold them and not let them free-range.  *sigh*  It is awfully stressful.

And then, today.

Today, Casey made a bid for freedom.  She jumped from Bandicoot and disappeared through the fence.

There were tears, but not as many as I expected.  And me, well I just felt a bit of guilt.  I also felt sad that it was Casey, whom the kids love and not Miss Fast who is really Miss Scratchy-Bad-Attitude.  Oops.  Not supposed to say that, ‘though, am I?

And then, in my typical empathic nature, I felt bad about a scared little guinea pig all alone; and her two sisters missing her, back in the hutch (okay, where is that bang head emoticon?)

So I went guinea pig hunting in our elderly neighbour’s yard.  I laid a trail of carrots back to our yard (one thing about Casey, she is MAD for carrots) and set up a little cardboard box next to the hutch full of straw, hay and pellets – guinea pig heaven, or thereabouts.  And I prayed.  A LOT.

Supid stinkin’ things.

Anyway, after a very mellow day, I finally put on the kids new favourite DVD – yeah, The Chipmunks.  As is usual in this house, the kids were not sitting still and somehow (who knows) Little Princess ended up on her back, under the table (I think it is her father’s blood, tee hee hee).  I went out to check on her (absolutely fine), when I noticed something in the backyard.

A little brown bundle munching away on a pile of hay and pellets next to the hutch.

Wha-ha – t?

No, really.

So I tried to sneak out.  Ha!  If I leave the building it is like a volcano spewing forth noisy, preschool lava.  I tried to get one of the littles to call Possum as I chased the silly girl around the hutch, into and out of the garden.  It was crazy – I was on one side, she was on the other.  We were doing that dance… to the left… to the right… I mean, really, she is supposed to be a guinea pig, right?  “Why?”  asks Bandicoot.  No sense of urgency, that boy, unless it is to do with something he wants.  Argh.

Eventually I thought I had her cornered, back in the garden, but she wiggled out of my grip that also included undergrowth and back through the fence.  My heart sank.

Did I mention our fence is barely standing?

I managed to get my head, one arm and one shoulder through the hole in the fence and see where she had backed herself into a hole with rocks behind her.  Aha!

One guinea pig to Mummy!  Roast guinea pig for dinner tonight.image

So I am a hero.  Or a heroine.  The guinea pig is home.  Everyone is happy.  Bandicoot still has no concept.

Seems all is right in the world.

Stinky Little Things.

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Eating Christmas Past

November 15, 2012

Possum is 6 years 6 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 4 months

Little Princess is 1 year 20 months (22 months)

40 days until Christmas

Remember Christmas in the Olden Days?  I am referring to that time so long ago – last century in fact – when we were kids and growing up.

What was the menu?  I bet you can tell me!

For us it was as follows:

Roast turkey (the only time of the year that we had turkey)

Roast pork (usually cooked on Christmas Eve after the kids had gone to bed.  What an aroma to go to sleep with – as if we weren’t excited enough!)

Ham – Dad would first carve this Christmas morning and fry pieces of it for breakfast with toast.  We had it for lunch, too.

And roast veges.  Lots and lots of roast veges.  (I am blessed.  There are certain characteristics in my Mum’s family.  We have pretty eyes, our noses enter the room 5 minutes before the rest of our face, champagne runs in our veins and, most importantly in this instance, we are genetically predisposed to baking the BEST baked potatoes.  EVER.)

After that there was Christmas pudding, with sixpences in it, served with whipped cream (another legacy of my Mum’s family), ice cream (for those with Dad’s blood) and custard.  No brandy cream.  Actually, we didn’t do brandy.  RUM was the flavour of Christmas.

Mum made the Christmas pudding in November.  Each person in the family stirred it once.  If you weren’t home when the pudding was made, you were allocated a proxy.

For treats there were nuts.  Lots and lots of nuts.  Often at Christmas we would get nuts in their shells, which seemed like so much fun.

We also had rum-balls, which, often, one or more of us had made.

And Christmas cake.  I never liked Christmas cake.  I am still not a fan.  But I love the ritual.  The cake was started in October.  The fruit was chopped and soaked in rum for a week.  (In those days we had to go to specialty shops in the city to buy the fruit, not just grab it in the supermarket.)  The cake was prepared, a design was made on top of the cake with nuts and glace cherries – this was usually my job –, and then it was baked s-l-o-w-l-y.  Once it came out, it was wrapped, tin and all, in layers of brown paper, layers of newspaper and towels.  It needed to cool slowly, too.  Then the ritual began of turning the precious bundle each week, periodically unwrapping it and sprinkling it with more rum and rewrapping.  No wonder we don’t get cakes that taste like that anymore!

I am not sure if we had mince tarts.  We probably did.  I didn’t like them until I was quite grown, so I don’t really remember them (although I suspect we left them out for Santa.)

In later years, my Mum began to make vanile kipferl.  This didn’t start until I was in high-school.  Even so, she would make vast quantities of them one night in October.  There were tins of them everywhere you turned.  Visitors were always served a plateful.

And Uncle Harry (my Mum’s brother) would always bring us a watermelon.  Not just any watermelon.  They were always HUGE!

So that was Christmas.  We knew what we were having.  We knew when things would be prepared.  It was lovely and special and not completely crazy.

These days it seems we are required to reinvent things every year.  We need to have nibbles for this, fandango salads for that.  We have to have seafood and exotic meats – the traditionals are too dull.  Every year the shops are full of magazines and books bursting with “new traditions”, new recipes, things to confuse us and make us feel inadequate with with our roast turkey and fried ham.

Well not for me.

I have made it a goal this year to GATHER NO RECIPES.  It is true, we have some different traditions to my childhood.  For example, our little family likes to have a Christmas picnic on the beach.  However, we worked out a menu that works really well for this a few years ago, so I am sticking to that.

I don’t need more ways to cook a turkey, different ways to cook the veges, another pudding recipe.  I don’t need more stress wondering if the menu is good enough, trying to follow a recipe that I haven’t used before, trying to track down ingredients, the expense of not knowing quantities or whether we will even like it.

I need Christmas.  I need festivity, but I need it to be fun.  It doesn’t need to be all about food anymore than it needs to be all about presents.  There is enough to do without reinventing the wheel (or reinventing the meal) each year.

No Joy Without Forgiveness…

November 14, 2012

Possum is 6 years 6 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 4 months

Little Princess is 1 year 10 months (22 months)

 

41 days to Christmas

 

Christmas is coming.  I am not getting excited.

That is quite a statement as I am generally Christmas mad.  For starters, my name is “Natalie” which means “Christmas Child”.  What choice do I have?

But this year, there is something holding me back; a darkness dwelling in my soul;  a sadness.  It may have been there before now, but this year has added to it.

Ignoring is not the same as forgiving.

Ignoring does not take the hurt away.

But when it hurts, it is hard to forgive.

This year, DH and I are hosting the Christmas party for my siblings and offspring.  We may also be hosting a 12th night party for his siblings and offspring (they are still working out who is in what part of the country when.)

My heart is not in it.

Yes, there is a lot of work involved.  I am one of eight.  DH is one of five.  Don’t even get me started on the next two generations.  (Yup, two.  We are great uncle and great aunt on both sides.)  That is a lot of people to organise in this day and age.  (Aside:  I hate the way that instant communications – emails, mobile phones etc – have stopped anyone from making a commitment to anything until the last minute.  No, the last minute is not soon enough to find out.  I want things organised so I don’t keep stressing about them.)  A lot of people when you hate crowds of any size.

But that isn’t it.

It is true that DH and I still battle a bit with our different families.  Our families have different ways of doing some things.  His family is very happy living in each other’s pockets.  For example, they love to all stay in the same house for a week.  We once had 18 people in a three bedroom, two bathroom house.  As I had a 2yo and a 6mo at the time, I found it VERY difficult.  That is how they do things.  No introverts allowed.  (Not great for me!)  My family – well, I am discovering that it is a bit of a skill living with some of our customs, too.

Because of this I dread the whole Christmas/January family thing.  Every year I try to get involved.  I try to get excited.  I try to plan things.  Every year it (or I) end in tears.

But this year is worse.

This year there have been several hurtful events occur throughout the year.  Things that obviously were buried, rather than forgiven.  Things that are coming up again.  Things that make me think I don’t want some of these people to come to my home and join in our celebrations.  These people that have been some of the closest to us throughout our lives.

For example:

“I have so much to do looking after my own kids and grandkids, I can’t cope with your children, too.”  (In response to an invitation for coffee.)

“Our home is not an appropriate place for your children.”  (Which is why I have not been back to that home.  And actually, neither myself nor the kids have been invited back, only DH.)

“Just go away, Bandicoot.  You are not wanted here.”  (By a visitor in our own home.  My rather subdued response to this lead to a lot of discussion behind my back and quite a disagreement with DH.  I still don’t think it was an appropriate way for someone to behave in my, and Bandicoot’s, home, especially when he was just trying to join in.)

So what do I do?  I HURT.  I have tried to put it aside, to keep it from DH and the kids.  I don’t want to spoil their Christmas.  But it is spoiling mine.

To be honest, I don’t want to celebrate with either extended family.  I really don’t.  I just want to have a quiet time with the five of us.  I know that my kids and DH won’t like that, ‘though. 

I also know that it will not bring me peace.  Oh, it might for the day.  Maybe for a few days.  But over time it will still be there, rotting my soul.

How do I forgive?