Dog update

April 26, 2006

Well, it's been a while since I last posted about dogs, and even though everybody (read: Mattgreen) is sick of me going on about it, I thought I'd write a bit more.

We went to see some Briards. Seven of them in fact. They are gorgeous dogs, but much bigger than we were expecting. Also, Isabel was just ever so slightly terrified of them.

Tibetan Terriers live for 15-17 years, and can't be left for more than 3-4 hours. So that means I have a maximum of 3-4 hours out of the house for the next couple of decades. A reality check made us realise that probably wasn't a good idea.

Labradors. We just don't really want one. It's not that they aren't nice dogs, it's just that they're the easy option. In our family, we like to make things as difficult as possible (I wish I was joking). Also, Mattgreen really wants a dog that's a bit different.

So. After much going round in circles, we've decided that we do want an Estrela Mountain Dog after all. That was the dog we saw at Crufts and all fell in love with. They're a giant breed, so we will need a new car. And (sooner or later) a new house. But other than that, they seem perfect. And let's face it, we needed a new car and house when Isabel was born, and getting a puppy is not that dissimilar to having a baby, so I'm cool with that.

We've decided to go to the National Dog Show next month to meet the breed. If Isabel is still fine with them, we're going to start looking into getting a puppy. Mattgreen has even agreed that we can get the puppy before September if we find the right litter before then. So I am basically cautiously optimistic on the surface, and SUPER TURBO MEGA EXCITED on the inside.

End of course assessment

April 20, 2006

Mattgreen is reading my end of course assessment for my nutrition course.

Mattgreen: This question about chick peas...
Alice: Yes?
Mattgreen: Chick peas also contain cellulose.
Alice: Oh, not cellulose, non-starch polysaccharides.
Mattgreen: They must contain cellulose. All plants contain cellulose.
Alicey: (Questioningly) Oh, are chick peas a ...
(I pause, realising I'm about to say something idiotic)
Mattgreen: (realising what I was about to say) No! They're an animal! In fact they're a predator, little hordes of marching chick peas savaging spiders and caterpillars...
(I am curled up in a ball, pissing myself)
Mattgreen: Before intensive battery farming, they used to be rounded up by little herders, called pea bodies!
(Tears are rolling down my cheeks)
Mattgreen: Honestly, you make it too easy for me.


April 19, 2006

I've just had an email from a gentleman called Filleting L. Gaunter (interesting choice of a name, Filleting) who wanted to tell me about the success of a phenomenal new nutritional supplement called Hoodia 920+.

He provided the following inspirational testimonial:

"I tried Hoodia 920+ after visiting your website, and I lost a few pounds without doing anything else. I was so amazed I decided to start exercising and getting outside more and I even starting eating better. Now I don't even look like the same man. Thank you … Hoodia 920+ really works!" -- Bob Fleming, Arkansas

You know, that's really interesting. I really think this supplement could work for everyone! I mean.. lose a couple of pounds through the power of placebo alone, and then simply START EXERCISING and STOP STUFFING YOUR FACE. What an awesome drug! Where do I sign up?

Fish tank

April 05, 2006

This lunchtime, Mattgreen and I went over to the garden centre. We were in the cafe and I was looking at the fish tank they have there.

Alicey: Mattgreen, do you think your Dad would like an urn, on its side, blowing infinite bubbles for his fishtank?
Mattgreen: (exasperated sigh) No... he likes to keep it as realistic as possible.
Alicey: Oh right.
Alicey: How about a plastic fairy castle, then?
Mattgreen: No.
Alicey: When we get a fishtank, we're going to have a plastic fairy castle.
Mattgreen: No we aren't.
Alicey: We are, because I want one and I bet the DB wants one too.
Mattgreen: (resigned) OK, but no plastic divers.
Alicey: OK.
Alicey: You see that fishtank has got a background? Can we have one of those?
(Gestures towards fishtank, which has a blue-tinted print of plants and foliage at the back of the glass)
Mattgreen: (brightening) Yes, that's OK.
Alicey: Excellent. We'll have one with airbrushed unicorns and dolphins! To match the castle!!
Mattgreen: (frowning) I don't think so...
Alicey: YOU ALREADY SAID YES! (Triumphantly) You shouldn't have said yes!

Meanwhile, in Isavaulta....

April 02, 2006

The pre-school party season is upon us once more. Small party-size piglets have been slaughtered and staked, jammy dodger sales are at an annual high and infant thirsts are slaked by gallons of plutoneum-orange Kwenchy Kups....oh wait, what- you think I'm making up the name 'Kwenchy Kups' for comedic effect?


It was Molly's 4th bithday party held at our local infant social nexus: Kiddies Kabin. What may seem to the untrained eye like an industrial unit partially filled with well padded activity apparatus and processed sugar is, if you are under the age of obligatory education at least, a throbbing hive of unleashed radicalism. A place where the overly-authorative shackles of oppressive parental regimes can be thrown off in an orgy of aspartine-fueled fervor. Izzy was jittering with excitement when she was choosing which one of her numerous party dresses to wear, before she even gets down to the serious business of partying the afternoon away.

Isabel turns the cute up to 11 as we arrive. I check her into the playroom with one of a seemingly infinite number of sullen, facially pierced teenagers whilst Isabel asks the assembled mothers if they like her dress. They do. A couple even look at their own children dejectedly. David says he likes Isabel's dress. His mother laughs too loudly and suggests he runs off and plays with Luke.

My daughter likes to get the ley of the land when she arrives at such events. It's her mother's influence. Having said hello to Molly's mother and given her Molly's present and card she speculatively asks her if there will be food. And then for a brief run down of the menu. Having cross-checked a few specific items (flavour of crisps, types of biscuits on offer etc.) she seems happy to run off and find Molly.

Excellent. Child freedom for a little while. I pull up a chair on the Dads' table. No one makes eye contact- we know why we're here. To read fantasy novels whilst our wives aren't about to find us chores to do. I'm down with 'A Sorceror's Treason: Book 1 of the Isavaulta Triology'. The dude to the left of me has two kids and is mid-way through book 3 of Tad Williams' 'Memory, Sorrow and Thorn' triology. And the guy on the right with three kids, and his mobile conspicuously turned off? Wheel of Time. Volume 9.

Which explains a number of things, not least of which being who is buying Robert Jorden's books and why he has a captive market forever more. Man, that guy was hardcore: he had the sunken eyes, the unwashed hair, 'weekend' clothes and the selective whist-I-know-one-child-is-beating-on-the-other-it-builds-character-and-besides
-neither-one-has-died-yet selective deafness going on. I almost scraped up some pity for the poor fellow but then ruined it by coming out with the day's best comedic grammaticatal error (and I quote):

"Stop hitting your brother with those dices"


So then, to Isavaulta...

Isabel: "Daddy!"
Me: "MMmmm?"
Isabel: "Can I have some money?"
Me (laughing incredulously): "No."
Isabel: "Please"
Me: "No."
Isabel (laughing): "Are you being funny Daddy?"
Me (deadpan): "No. Are you?"
Isabel: "Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease......"
Me(yawning): "No."
Isabel: "Well, I'm just going to go and have fun then- FOR FREE!" *runs off*


Meanwhile, in Isavaulta....

Isabel: "Daddy?"
Me: "Mmmm?"
Isabel: "What can I do?"
Me: "I don't know, what can you do?"*
Isabel: "Don't know"

Ahhh, the rallying cry. An infant call to arms.

Me: "What about playing with the other children?"
Isabel: "Boring. They're playing 'it' and Luke always wins." **
Me (interested): "Really, why's that?"
Isabel: "He jus' stands at the top of the tower and, and, he frows fings at us so we can't get up the ladder"

Luke, it seems, has broken 'it'. Part of my brain mentally throws up the goat as a mark of respect to the little guy.

Isabel climbs on me.

Isabel: "I need a rest."
Me: "Why don't you have a lie down in the ball pond?"
Isabel (wide-eyed): "Yeah!" *streaks off into the ball pond*

Meanwhile, in Isavaulta....


Yeah, could you back off the mike just a touch...?

This is the signal for the parents to collar their incoming progeny and reassemble them into reasonable junior members of the community rather than unleashing them as a pack of baying sugar hounds. They sit down and sing happy birthday. Then the good stuff starts. This is the part where every dinner table tantrum and screaming fit pays off for me. Izzy is a star at eating healthy food. Far, far, better than I ever was, as my sister will no doubt attest.

Molly's mother loads her daughter's plate with cucumber sticks, cheese cubes, cherry tomatoes, party sausages and a couple of biscuits (for appearances). Molly doesn't disappoint me though, she's on those biscuits like a starved puma. Isabel is on her right and the goodstuff tray is headed left. Isabel reaches for the sandwiches (the only tray within reach) and grabs three. Without a word the two girls switch plates. I swear: not a sound was uttered. This was well practiced stuff, surgical, even. Like watching a bank job: minimal eye contact, make the switch, nothing to see here.

I am shocked and impressed. Izzy wolfs down the healthy stuff and eyes up the many plates of sugar. After a jammy dodger, a mini roll, two biscuits and some wafer battlements from Castle: Raw Cane, I step in:

Me: "Isn't it time you had a sandwich Izzy?"
Isabel: "I'll have two"
Isabel reaches for the plate, takes two, and switches the tops over.
Isabel: "Jam and ham Daddy! Your favourite!"

Yeah, laugh it up little girl.


*Isabel is now immune to this line of response and just ignores me more than usual, unless I'm the only choice.

** Which, I assume, is a tag/tig/gotcha variant and not anything to do with IT by Steven King. I should really stop listening to that backwater part of my brain.

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