Monday, 17 October 2016

Out of the mouths of babes (into the ears of gargoyles).

It’s been a while.  Suddenly it’s the Baby’s birthday tomorrow.  Four! Almost grown up.  (Certainly too grown up to still be called the Baby.)  I’m not with them at the moment – I’ll miss the traditional “surprise” breakfast, and the family day out, and her party – which breaks my heart a little bit.   As well as being away from them, I will also be away from you lot for a while  (although my Textpat wife will continue to post our inane telephonic witterings over here) - but don’t go away!  I will be back, soonish, with more parenting humiliations to brighten your day.

Speaking of which, here’s something I wrote a couple of weeks ago – just before God decided to laugh at my plans.

Aw, kids.  Aren’t they sweet?  Don’t they say the darnest things?  And you know, the more time you spend with them, the more little nuggets of wisdom you can glean from them.  Here, for example, is a (non-exhaustive) list of some the things my kids have said to me this week:

·        Mummy, stop singing. SERIOUSLY!  Your mouth is all weird and wrinkly.  It looks like an old dog’s bottom.

·        Mummy, please can you stop breeving on me wif your disgusting stinky breff?

·        Oh Mummy, that hat looks lovely on you!  You can’t see your face. You should wear it all the time. 

·        You’re going OUT?  But… You’re not allowed to go out!  You have to stay here and look at me while I sleep.  That’s your job. You don’t want to get fired from your job, do you?  [um….]

·        That lady reminds me of you.  [Pointing at a picture of Ozzy Ozbourne.]

·        Do you drink wine with your dinner to make it taste nice?  Because *this* [pointing at food I’ve just made her] might taste better if I was drinking wine.

·        I love you Mummy, but sometimes you’re a bit… [pauses, searches for accurate word...] Screechy.

·        Mummy, do I *have* to look like you when I grow up? [Said not so much with disgust as with fear.]

·        Daddy sexed you? [Said with 100% disgust.]

(Looking at this list I realise there’s a lot to be said for not spending too much time with one’s children.) 

Clearly, my kids view me as nothing short of a hideous gargoyle. Assuming I am not alone in this offspring insult-fest, what delights - intended or otherwise – have your children thrown at you this week?   (Alternatively, if you *are* a gargoyle, how do you minimise your disgusting-factor?)

Friday, 23 September 2016

How to talk so noone will ever listen (but successfully build up a giant thirst for gin)

Parenting is hard, isn’t it?  After particularly challenging days / weeks (months) I usually turn in desperation to this book, and read it AGAIN, and swear that this time I’m actually going to retain the information and, you know, use it. 

But obviously, I never do.  Because if I did, maybe my 6 & 7 year old would not have RUN AWAY FROM HOME last week.  Oh yes.  They’d been sent to their rooms for beating the crap out of each other, and such was their objection to this that they decided, on balance, that they’d rather face the miseries of the jungle at night than stay ONE MORE MINUTE in their family home. 

The rookie mistake they made was (a) to run away in the middle of the afternoon and (b) to come and tell me of their plans.  “We’re off!” they announced gaily;  “Running away!”   I was actually totally amused by the whole thing at this stage.  Because, really – how far were they going to get in their school uniforms, with their baskets and shopping bags, and wearing worn-down old flip flops?  So I suggested they apply some insect spray, because it’s very buggy here at the moment (plus there’s the small matter of us living in the jungle) and had they packed their toothbrushes?  (Yes, they had, but they were grateful for the insect spray suggestion.)  And so off they went. (For the record, they had also packed, respectively:  6 t-shirts, 4 stuffed animals, a book, and $3;  and 2 tutus, a pair of pyjamas, a pair of slippers, 1 stuffed  animal, and an angel figurine – ‘to watch over me’…)

Anyway, we bid our farewells, then I waited a couple of minutes before I too sprayed up and set off in their wake – because while I might be a failure at talking so my kids will listen, I’m pretty successful at spying on them. Well, they surprised me with their fortitude, by walking for at least a mile down the windy, pavement-less road, stopping every so often to pick up the various bits and bobs that kept dropping (the Girl in particular was laiden down like a donkey) – and each time they stopped, I leapt into the bushes so they wouldn’t see me. By this stage my curiosity – where are they going to go?  How far will they take it? – was being overtaken by dehydration and thorn scratches.  Anyway, they took it as far as the pedestrian crossing at the big scary main road which the jungle road meets;  the big scary main road which is also known as The Road Of Certain Death, comprising as it does 6 lanes of terror, along which Singaporeans blithely hurtle their Machines Of  Critical Injury. At that point – just as the Boy was putting his foot on the pedestrian-crossing-of-death-or-disablement (because truly – drivers here could CARE LESS about either pedestrians, or their crossings) – I leapt out from behind the (blessedly thorn-free) bus stop  and intercepted the fugitives.  The Girl’s face lit up – clearly she was a reluctant runaway – but the Boy?  Less so.  Furious might be a better way to describe him. 

So I bit my tongue and instead TALKED SO MY KIDS WOULD LISTEN – and lo!  They listened! Although it’s possible that the bit they listened to was: ‘If you come home now you can have an ice-cream’.* 

So I’m thinking of writing a parenting manual.  “How to bribe so your kids will capitulate.”  It’s going to make me millions.  (Or at least enough to buy a few padlocks.)

Look – here they are mid-escape – MILES AWAY:

And here they are post-rescue, ignoring me completely, while I talk and talk and talk... (and carry all their crap).  

*The Boy and I talked later and he divulged his runaway plans:
1. If anyone asked, he was going to say that they were 11 and 9.  Because apparently that's ok.
2. They were heading to the shops to buy mentos.  $3, remember?  A pack each for dinner, and a pack to share for breakfast.
3. Breakfast would be taken in the random garden where they had slept, using some newspaper as a blanket.
4. After their healthy, leisurely breakfast, they were just going to 'hang around', and 'maybe do some begging'. 
5. He thought he might - might! - come home after 3 days.
6. Oh, and he's in trouble in school so please can he stay at home tomorrow?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Smut and stuff

It’s been a while since there’s been any smut or indecency here, so let’s do what we can to change this, shall we?
First up, the Girl, always a reliable source of smut-hilarity.  She got off the school bus last week and asked “What is sex?”  So I told her (or rather, reminded her), to which she replied:  “Oh.  I thought that was ‘fuck’”. 
And my jaw dropped a teeny bit, proving I am not as cool or unflappable as I’d like to think I am (actually, I know I am neither.  It’s important to own your weaknesses.) and I said “Oh.  Where did you hear those words?” (while thinking “Whose turn is it to DIE?”) and she said “a boy in school told me I was Sex Girl”, to which I could only say, again “Oh” (while thinking “Please do not let you be known as Sex Girl, now or EVER”), and then “…and you, Mummy, told me Fuck.”    Ah.  Indeed I did, in an effort – vain, it transpires – to embarrass the word out of the 6-yr-old Girl’s vocabulary. Another example of a great parenting strategy which bites me on the arse.
Speaking of arses, this weekend we found this place, which I think might be the only naturalist spot in Singapore –   
(apart from our house, of course, which isn’t so much a naturalist spot, as a spot where children appear to think clothes are optional. I quite love it actually;  nothing makes me happier than the sight of my children’s dimpled bottoms.) So anyway, we get to this place – which is on a farm in north Singapore – and the Boy reads this aloud, and immediately, in the blink of an eye, the kids have ripped their clothes off and are frolicking through the shrubbery, while I am HORRIFIED, because no matter what the sign says  - IT IS STILL SINGAPORE.  And also, look at the people depicted on the sign – they’re not exactly hanging loose.  And so I hissed and glared and eventually shouted PUT YOUR CLOTHES ON, and of course I was roundly ignored, until – joy of joys – an ant climbed onto the Baby’s torso and she went mental – thrashing and screaming and having total conniptions, so much so that, from my hiding-place-of-shame behind a banana tree I assumed she was being attacked by a naturalist monitor lizard.  Anyway, they all put their clothes on then, and the Boy suggested that the picture on the sign be amended to show the dangers of local nudity.
One final offering of smut:  this, over at Textpats.  I find it hilarious, but also somewhat quaint, that a grown woman didn’t know that there’s a word to describe shagging in car parks while being watched by strangers.  Pfffff.  Even your average 6 yr-old knows that.

Monday, 5 September 2016

A recipe-free recipe. (For Granola, of all things.)

When we moved – amidst all the various animal and children woe – I decided This Is My Chance To Get Organised.  I go through these phases quite a lot, and none of them gets to the root of the problem at all (which is that I am chronically disorganised, and always will be.)  However.  This was different: this involved food.   Amongst the 788 items of tat I brought home from Ikea in that first week were these lovelies: 

Cereal / biscuit / pasta jars!    And YES, I actually used them, and amazingly  it’s the one organisational step I have managed to keep up.  (Consequently, breakfast at our house every day resembles that at a shabby B&B, albeit with less damp, and more wildlife.)

But look a bit closer at that picture, and you’ll see that something is off;  one of these jars is not like the others… One is emptier - either more abandoned, or – as transpires is the case – more popular.


Yes! In between sitting around, and wondering  Is 37.5 Actually A Fever, Or Can She Go To School?,  and Is It Too Early To Have A Drink?, and Why Is The Cat Looking At Me Like That?, and What Is That Smell? –  in the midst of my frantic expat life I still manage to find time to squeeeeeeeeeeeeeze in a granola-making session.  And frankly, if I can do it, so can you.  Mainly because it is piss-easy, and quite shockingly delicious, and about ¼  the cost of buying it (or 1/10th, if you live here), and is healthy compared to the commercially-made shite you buy, and can be as sugar-free or sugar-laiden as you wish (and similarly raisins-a-plenty, or none, depending on your own good self), and – and this is the biggie, because nothing puts a would-be-granola-maker off like the list of ingredients you need -  THERE IS NO RECIPE. 

It’s a little known fact that granola recipes are part of a larger conspiracy to (a) make people feel crap about themselves and (b) reinforce social subjugation.   So let’s break free of this tyranny!  FREE BREAKFAST TIME!  (And brunch time.  And lunch time.  And Kiddie snack time.  And – depending on how much dancing you did, your sore back numbed by gin, on a boat at the weekend and consequently how hungover you are – dinner time.)

I give you:  Recipe-free Granola.   You’re welcome.

Recipe-Free Granola. (Almost.)

Ok, there’s a caveat.  There are some crucial ingredients.  And you have to follow a couple of rules.  But!  We’re not living in a communist cereal-state here.  Oh no;  this is the most libertarian breakfast / brunch / lunch / snack / dinner you will ever make. 

You need rolled oats (ROLLED, not instant or powder, or just-add-water, ugh),  you need oil and you need some sort of sweetener. Oh, and you need to keep a bit of ratios in mind.   And cook them.  But that aside, you can go hog-wild. 

Here are the ratios I use, per cup. (Truly, use a regular cup.  I haven’t gone all American here. Just open a cupboard and take out any vessel at all, and use it for all the ingredients.  I used an English tea cup – because I’m sortof fancy.)  So, moving on –

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup Other Stuff (dry stuff that is - nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, whatever)
  • ½ cup liquid
  • No more than 1 cup dried fruit. 

The oats:  Like I said, these have to be rolled, and can’t be instant.  Just trust me on this. But that aside, use any type you want – jumbo, or organic, or premium, or basic.  Anything.

Other Stuff:  I like a mixture of seeds (sunflower, as you’re asking, and sometimes sesame if I have them) and nuts (usually  whole almonds, skin on, which I roughly chop, hazelnuts, again chopped, and walnuts).  But actually, I just use whatever is in my cupboard.  I try to remember to pick up a variety of seeds and nuts and stuff when I’m shopping, but as we’ve already discussed, I’m not that organised.  Desiccated coconut is a nice addition, but I forgot to buy some, so instead – just for a flavour kick –  today I added a teaspoon of dried ginger, which was delicious.  Last week I added a handful of pinenuts, which was... unremarkable (and not worth the cost of the pinenuts, to be honest).  Cinnamon is also good, or if you like nutmeg throw some in.  I find that if I’m using spices, not adding more than one teaspoon is key.   Oh, and add a pinch of salt too, if you remember.

Liquids: My half cup is made up of equal measures of oil and maple syrup, plus a teaspoon of vanilla essence.  For the oil, I use a mix of plain olive, and extra virgin, half and half.  You, obviously, can use any oil you want (although I’d caution against using only EVOO, it’s a bit overpowering). Then I add an equal amount of maple syrup (YES, YOU CAN USE HONEY.  OR GOLDEN SYRUP.  OR THE SWEET TEARS OF A UNICORN), the vanilla, and I stir a bit, and add to the dried ingredients. 

Dried Fruit:  This goes in at the end, once the granola is cooked. Opinion differs as to whether to add it when the granola is warm or cooled.  Warm will, apparently, plump up the fruit – although in my experience, this is total wankage.  Just do whatever suits you and stop worrying about it.  Today I just had prunes and raisins, which I added, but then the Girl reminded me that she hates raisins (she liked them last week, gah), so next time I’ll leave them out.  If I have some dried apricots or dates, I’ll chop them and add them too.  If I’ve totally run out of everything I just have fruit-free granola, which is also fabulous.  (The bonus of the fruit is it bulks the granola out, sweetens it, and keeps the kiddies regular.  Because, you know, eating the dirt from the ground doesn’t have enough of a laxative effect on them.)  Also, I keep it to 1 cup max, because I don’t like the fruit overpowering the other ingredients.  But if you’re a dried-fruit-enthusiast – or your children don’t eat the dirt from the ground (in which case congratulations on your good parenting) and need some regularity in both their life and their bowels, then go crazy.

And That. Is.  It. 

Here’s what you do:

Preheat your oven to 160c (Fan).  (I have no idea what that is in any other language, sorry.)

Add 2 cups of oats to a large bowl.  Add 1 cup of nuts / seeds etc.  Some brown sugar if you like it really sweet (I don’t bother – who needs more sweetness in their lives?  Apart from Donald Trump), extra coconut if you want a really good crunch. Stir.  Make up your 1/2 cup of liquids – oil and sweetener, vanilla essence (which I recommend, if you have it.  Unless it will kill you, in which case maybe pass on it) and dump it in (yes, any which way.  No well is needed;  no dribbling here, or adding a bit at a time.  JUST CHUCK IT IN.)  Then roll up your sleeves and dig in, mixing and stirring and scraping until everything is a little bit greasy. 

Tip it into a baking sheet / large cake tin, press down (crucial if you want lumps of crunchy granola, not so crucial otherwise), and stick in the hot oven.  Set your timer for 15 minutes.

This is the only thing I’m ordering you to do.  Why?  Because, this:

(The oven was too hot, and I wandered off and got distracted arguing with one of my children about something.  The strange smell of burning, possibly.)
Check how it’s looking after 15 mins.  (The speed at which it cooks seems to vary according to the ingredients.)  If you don’t want lumpy granola, give it a stir, otherwise turn the tray around and pop it back in for 10 more minutes.  (Set the timer again.  We’re all old and forgetful, that’s why.)   It should by now be toasted-brown looking, and no longer glistening at all. 

Leave to cool (or not!), tip back into the bowl you used for mixing, and add the dried fruit (or not!) Then either decant into a cereal holder, or your stomach, and pat yourself on the back for your baking fabulousness, while muttering Fuck You Commercial Cereal Manufacturers, and Vive La Granola Revolution, under your breath.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Long in the Tooth (Short in the Pocket)

To the enormous horror and scorn of my US friends (one of whom brought her son for his first check-up when he was TWO MONTHS OLD.  I am not kidding. THAT is why they all have such gorgeous teeth) the Boy had his first visit to the dentist this week.  Yes, he is 7.  Yes, I know I know… Having said that, the dentist told me that 6 is a good age for the first visit so I’m only nearly two years a year out.  And anyway his teeth are fine.  (Except for the teeny tiny cavity on one of them...) 
GAH.  It is so teeny however, that we can leave it, but he has to brush – and floss – his teeth three times a day, which is a ballache of magnificent proportions, and so far – two days in – has resulted in his brushing them three times in the space of four hours, because he – we – keep forgetting / get distracted / are late for school etc. The other ballache – there are two (appropriately enough) – was getting handed a bill for the check-up-and-xray-and-clean… for $300.  I actually flinched, and I no longer flinch at the cost of things here (because otherwise I would be constantly flinching, and would have to wear a neck brace).  Which leaves me with the dilemma of knowing that I know need to bring the Girl for a check-up, but honestly – THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS?  I can buy fake wooden teeth for less than that…

Which actually, I may need anyway, because last night  - with a squeak and a gasp and a look of abject horror – she spat out her first lost tooth.  The poor thing looked as if her legs had just dropped off.  And it’s not as if this was a surprise – she’d been worrying that tooth nonstop all week.  So out it popped and we had the obligatory I Lost My Tooth photo, wherein she looks aghast, and then she played with it all day, and she and the Boy schemed about how much she could fleece the Tooth Fairy for (because apparently the Tooth Fairy is both a Grown Up, and “loaded” and as such is ripe for fleecing;  the Boy reckoned she could demand $15, which I would definitely have gone for (if only to help with the dental bills) but then I remembered which pot the Tooth Fairy’s donations come from.)   But in the end she decided she didn’t want the Tooth Fairy to take her tooth after all – she wants to keep it and make a necklace out of it (or something), so PHEW, we are up $15 (but still down $300, so a nett loss of $285, on teeth WHICH ARE JUST GOING TO FALL OUT FFS...)

Speaking of teeth and the like, you may remember that I was due to be finished with my vanity-led orthodontic treatment a couple of months ago.  Except they just weren’t straight.  “Yes they are,” said the dentist (in fact “dentist”, because I am no longer certain he is in any way qualified);  “No they’re not” I countered.  And so we went back and forth like this for some time, with me showing him the snaggle tooth, still snaggly, and him deadpan telling me that “in his professional opinion”, they were perfectly straight.  So then he rolled his eyes – literally – and said FINE (in the way that the Baby says it when she’s run out of excuses for staying up) and WE’LL SEE WHAT THE BRACE MANUFACTURERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT (which is not something the Baby ever says, but by God the tone was 100% hers).  And so it turned out that what the brace manufacturers had to say about that seems to have been something along the lines of “Oooops, we did a terrible job, here, stick a load of attachments on her teeth so they look like they’re splintering off, and here are SEVEN MONTHS’ worth of additional braces”.  Which doesn’t exactly scream “Professional Opinion” (or indeed professional anything) to me.   

So now I’ve been thinking, and here’s my plan. For reasons unclear even to myself, I have kept all the old retainers (the cats like to play with them)  - so I will just use these on the kids in years to come, and we’ll all have the same fabulous teeth.  What can possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Home is where the Gin&Tonic* is

(*There are no hearths in Singapore.  But there ARE gin&tonics, and balmy nights in which to enjoy them...)

The children went back to school today – happy, happy days – and so normality has returned.  Unfortunately, *my* normality is rather more stressy than your average lounge-about-at-home person’s, and my inability to properly set an alarm clock didn’t help get the new school year off to the best start.  GETUPGETUPGETUP, interspersed with magnificent amounts of headless-chicken behaviour, and then discovering that the Girl had gone back to bed AND gone back to sleep… I’m getting a bit stressy just thinking about it.  But all’s well that ends well  (except, or course, when it doesn’t end well, but with a phone call from the nurse’s office and a request to come collect your child and his headache from school…  Deep breaths, tomorrow is another (child-free, hurrah) day.) 

This must mean, of course, that we all survived the hideous, gruesome flight home, with its many transfers and few opportunities to sleep. I had bought these blow-up-cube things which you stick in the space in front of your kids’ seat – they’re called First Class Kids, which even my children scoffed  at (particularly the Boy – “That is meant to be a first class seat?”) – and you look like a total wally as you inflate it from the overhead air vents, but! They were pretty much fabulous and the children stretched and slept and only kicked and punched each other (and me) occasionally, which frankly, is akin to First Class  as far as I’m concerned. (No such stretching or sleeping for me, but I had the joy of telling the bitch air hostess that one of my children had pissed the seat, and the consequent look on her face had me chuckling all the way through immigration.) (No, I haven’t been paid by the blowy-uppy-cube people, alas, but if they want to send me some cash, I have spent about $500 on school-uniformy stuff today – school uniformy stuff which is in addition to the entire school uniforms I bought before we went away) so any donations very welcome.)

Speaking about being fleeced, I got nagged into bringing the ungrateful offspring to Kidzania the other day (we still had ELEVEN days of school holidays left when we got back).  If you’re ignorant of these things – and for your own sanity I hope you are -  Kidzania is a big indoor play area, where kids get to play at being grown ups.  They open bank accounts and go work in photo-copying outlets or fast food joints in the hope that some day they might save enough money to bring their own kids to over-priced play areas.   It costs $58 PER CHILD to get in, and the best thing of all is that children under 8 are not allowed to go in alone, so you, the horrified parent, have to spend an extra $35 to accompany them.  For this you get… not a thing.  (Actually, that's not quite true.  There is a "Parents Only" room, where you can buy yourself the most miserable cup of tea imaginable for $4, and then sit with other ashen-faced parents, all wondering what they're going to have to sacrifice from next week's grocery-cart to pay for this lunacy.)  Apart from that designated Zone of Bewilderment, “Parents not allowed!” signs hang all over the place, so instead you stand alongside the 80-minute queue with your unmanageable almost-4 year old, while her older offspring race around shrieking and complaining about the queues.  Why are there queues?  Because, silly, only a handful of kids can work in 7 Eleven or Pizza Hut or the Strip Joint* at any one time, but – for reasons I still cannot fathom – about 128 continue to patiently line up outside,  desperation etched on their teeny hopeful faces. Throw in the Singaporean penchant for rules and inflexibility (“Queue BEHIND the line!” “CANNOT leave the queue!”  “CANNOT pee in the queue!” etc) and really, you have the makings of a particularly unpleasant day.  Bizzarely, however, the kids loved it – nothing gets them going like learning how baby formula is made (Yes!  I swear!) – and so now *I* am queuing to work in 7-Eleven to pay for the next promised visit.  (To balance this out, I dragged them to the island’s best value venue the next day, after which they all slept for about 15 hours.  THAT is my sort of place.)  

Right.  I must go eat dinner.  I will leave you with this, my favourite photo of, well if not all time, then definitely the summer. Where was it taken?  Why, at a bare-knuckle boxing match of course!  (Why, how do you spend your summer Sundays?)  Who is that screaming in the background (to the right of the referee)?  Why, the Girl of course – who, as my Textpat spouse put it so beautifully, “Looks like she’s about to jump in and rip that motherfucker’s head off herself.”  I love this photo.  It sums the Girl up so brilliantly.  (Incidentally, if Kidzania ever open a crowd-control unit – which surely they must – she would totally nail that job.)

(*There isn't really a strip joint.) 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

10th Century Rape, Rats and Lezzer Shoes. (How was *your* summer?)

The thing about summer holidays is that WEEKS whizz by and suddenly it’s nearly Time To Go Home and you realise that the thing which has been niggling at your brain – apart from your children, who don’t so much niggle at it as CHEW AWAY AT IT DAY AND NIGHT – is that you haven’t updated your blog in months.  (Practically.)
So here, a précis.
Summer ups:
Fresh Irish air.  Although I’m the first to admit that there is a very fine line between fresh air and fucking freezing air.  (It’s a line I’ve been walking for 6 weeks now.)
Empty, windswept, beaches.  (Alas empty because rain is being swept along them by the wind.   Nothing however that an umbrella and a bonfire can’t sort.)
Friends, and their spare beds.  And their spare gin.  (Thank you all.)
Parents and sisters who swoop up children and mind them, without expecting too much anything in return. 
This book, which distracted me from London Shopping.
This conversation with the Boy, re Vikings:
“What is plundering?”
“Stealing everything you can.  Including people.”
“Really?  You can steal people? Why would you want to steal people?”
“For slaves.  You steal them then you own them.  But usually the Vikings only stole women.”
“Why?  Men would be much better slaves than women.”
“You think?  I think men would complain too much.  But they stole them to make them have their babies.”
“You mean they sexed them?”
“Yes.  They sexed them.”
“But the women didn’t want to be sexed!”
“No, they didn’t.”
“But how can you sex someone who doesn’t want to be sexed?”
“I suppose if you’re much bigger you just force yourself.”
“But... That’s terrible!  Why would you want to sex someone who doesn’t want it?”
The Girl on roller skates.  A baby giraffe on ice. (Hilarious for me – for her, not so much.)
Summer downs:
FOUR WEEKS OF 24/7 CHILDCARE. (I did get a week alone in London, which redressed the imbalance somewhat, but next year I’m negotiating two weeks AND heavy-duty tranquilisers AND minimum wage.)
My sister’s dog – incredibly sweet and ADORED by the children, but once you’ve seen a creature gobble up a bowl of your child’s sick, you never quite see it in the same light again.
A migraine. On the Girl’s birthday.  (Thank you to my sister who rescued me from where I was kneeling in a puddle of my own tears, whispering at the children to pleasekeepthenoisedown, then helped me de-package the 27kgs of Cadbury’s assortment, light six candles, and call it a Birthday Party.)
Nits.  On the Girl’s birthday.  (Also On the Girl’s Head.) Discovered more or less at the exact time as I was thinking that I could FINALLY slope off to bed.  Instead I sloped to the shop, bought E100 of Agent Orange and spent the evening nuking the fuckers.
Rats.  Apparently we’re getting our money’s worth from the pest control people in Singapore.
Cats. I get daily updates from our helper about the latest feline frolics – none of them sweet or funny or amusing, WHICH WASN’T THE CAT-OWNERSHIP DEAL AT ALL.  Yesterday’s missive – “cats fighting with a stray in the kitchen, what should I do?”  (Tempted to say “lock the doors and leave them to it” but fear she might take me literally, and we’ll arrive home in a few days to a rancid smell and rotten clumps of fur wedging the kitchen door shut.)
Middle age.  This summer I found self gravitating towards hideous (BUT SO COMFY!  LIKE WALKING ON AIR!) granny sandals on at least three occasions.  (Ok. I didn’t so much gravitate towards them as actually buy them. I got home the first time and the Baby asked me if they belonged to our helper.  Which should have been the warning I needed, but did I heed it?  Did I hell.  (LIKE STEPPING IN TO A CLOUD! MY FEET SING FOR JOY!))
This Coming Thursday.  Which of course might not be a summer down, but I suspect the worst.  Me.  Three children.  Two 8-hour flights.  Back of the bus.  A four-hour layover at midnight.   
But!  I will not be downhearted.  I have my lezzer sandals to keep me strong, and cats and rats to look forward to.