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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Day 1

The better half is off to Berlin for the film festival. She'll be gone a full two weeks. Today hardly counts as day one, but it is day one. Tonight was/will be night one. Tomorrow morning will be morning one. Not sure what the girls think. Not sure where they think their Mum is, or when she'll be back. We explain, and we explain again. But you can't be sure what gets in there, unless you're explaining about chocolate. In the case of subjects related to chocolate their cognitive abilities seem to be somehow enhanced. I wonder if that's genetic.

I hope to be able to do a real diary of entries and observations over the next two weeks. The irony is that although I'm off my nut busy when the girls are awake, when they're sleeping I should actually have more time to write. But again, this is hardly even night one. I've had a lot of time to prepare for this. I'm living in a fool's paradise of clean dishes, full fridge, and sanguine children. From here on out I'm probably looking at time-debt.

Day 2

Nothing to see here. Move along. Seriously, my first solo day, admittedly made easy by taking the girls to daycare, went without a hitch. Unless you'd call a poo in the bath a hitch. But shit happens. You have to expect that.

Work has been a bit crazy. There are a lot of little forces that conspire to bring me back into the office. I've been trying to group them together into whole days, instead of letting the half days break up my week. Maybe I'll have better luck at that next week.

My mantra has been: Estote Parati, Estote Parati , Estote Parati, which is three times the Boy Scout Motto "Be Prepared" in Latin. Why Latin? Because it's a motto, duh.

It just struck me how similar this diary would be to the last two years of caring for the girls. And how different this diary will be to spending two weeks in Berlin.

Day 3

I look at the fridge and wonder; 4 litres of milk left, should I shop now or wait? It's Friday, which means I'll have fewer windows to shop over the weekend, the very time when demand for milk will spike in the house. Without my seasonal index, how can I create a realistic demand plan so that I don't carry too much milk stock into Monday (and thereby incurring freshness issues, and stock write-offs)? I know! I'll use SAP APO. I just need a handheld barcode reader and an instance of SAP that runs o OS X. Aw, too hard. Paralyzed with indecision, my mind drifts to other things..." soon Coles will implement RFID tags on all their stock. That'll make the barcode reader obsolete. I'll need an RFID reader that I can WiFi into my SAP instance. Then I can set up a automated order through Coles.com.au web API and milk will just show up when it's needed. " So chugs away my train of thought whilst working at home. As you can see, I'm living the work/home balance.

Day 4

This was always going to be the "real thing". Day 4, faced with the milk dilemma mentioned above, compounded by a bread and toilet paper shortage as well, promised to be a juggler. Plus rain = cabin fever for all. But no, it was beautiful. We had a wild and wonderful day full of drama and conflict, couch forts, reading books, jumping, chasing and hide and seek. Not normal hide and seek, but a special toddler derivative. The counting tends to be non-linear and the hiding is more notional than anything else. It's sort of more like chasing with a head start.

I've been running the grandfather clock. It's my only adult companion in the house. And so grown up and punctual. One of the things I like is how it marks time. Not only do you get the tick and the tock and the bells at top and bottom of the hour. But there's also a special sound it makes in preparation for the top or bottom of the hour. It makes a mechanical zippy sort of sound as it weights the chiming gears for imminent ringing. So you get this sort "it's almost ... o'clock" warning twice an hour. It's more something I notice during the week, but I enjoy it almost all of the time.

The other great thing about a chiming clock is that we have a no TV rule prior to 6am. I wish we could do better than that (like a no out of bed prior to 7am rule, but so far that's been impossible to enforce). If I get woken up (awakened? it just doesn't seem right) at 5am, that means an hour of someone little and awake badgering me to check the clock. With the chimes I just tell her to wait until it chimes 6 times. I don't have to lift my head off the couch. Handy.

Day 5

Nothing went to plan today. But even so, it was a great day. For example, it ended with pretending we were in a taxi. And we were watching TV, or pretending to do so. There is a long standing and fairly well enforced rule around here. No TV after dinner. But we were pretending to watch TV. Is that against the rules? I suppose not, so I was pretending to forbid it. But then she said; "no, it's OK. We're watching it in a taxi". Fair enough.

But back to pretending to watch TV. What is that? Parent types are always saying that watching TV deadens kids' imaginations. Does pretending to watch TV pretend to deaden your imagination?

And back to watching TV being OK after dinner if you're pretend watching it in a Taxi. I guess we weren't specific enough about the rule. Had we said, no TV, not even pretend TV in a taxi, then I would have been able to forbid it. But we didn't, so it falls into that same extra-legal limbo as extra-ordinary rendition and Guantanamo Bay. It makes perfect sense, if you're two.

The day started with me being alarmingly dizzy. Not sure what that's about, but that got me to get back to the doctor about my ear. I'd had a ringing ear a couple weeks back. That got sorted out, but I was supposed to go back for a follow-up visit. And can I just mention here, once again, how it blows my mind that I can front up on a perfectly nice, local, known doctor, get seen in a half-hour's time, and not pay one red penny, not even for insurance. This is a wonderful country in so many ways, but that's gotta be one of the most visibly impressive to an American.

Just prior to the doctor I'd dropped off the girls at daycare. But d2 had a gummy eye, and I could see she was going to get "excluded", so I gave one of the carers my sob story about seeing the doctor and needing until about 10 to sort myself out. Sure enough, 10:20 I get the call. She's got conjunctivitis. Easy to fix, but takes about 48 hours to get her back in daycare. There goes my work-week (glass half empty). But she and I both are relatively well, so it's a bit of time we can spend together (glass half full). How about a bike ride to the park and then lunch in the trees? Done. Nice. Beautiful day today, so beautiful.

Day 6

Who would have thought that of all the things I (may have) learned at university, hacky sack would be the skill I've employed most regularly in parenting this week? If you don't know what hacky sack is, I'll direct you to Wikipedia. You obviously never went through a hippy faze ( not a bad thing, but... ).

If you do know what hacky sack is, you might be a little concerned that I now consider it a core parenting skill. Two words for you: "foot stall". At least once a day I've used a foot to either catch a kid or an item dropped by kid. Kids are so much bigger and easier to foot stall than hacky sacks. But that's good because it's so much more important.

Day 7

me: Did you watch TV at daycare today?
her: Yes, and, and there was a man.
me: And what did the man say
her: She say, um, he say sorry. He say I'm sorry.

Day 8

Not the best way to spend a Valentines Day. I do wish would could all be together. But it really is best that everyone is where they are, here, there and everywhere. More news to come on that soon - as per it relates to a certain film in a certain film festival. Ah, but I've said too much already.

The cracks are starting to show. Nobody is happy for more than a few minutes these days. We're just sweating out the several sleeps we have left. The shine has come off the produce in the fridge, the dishes are less washed, the floor is showing signs of neglect, I'm on the edge of a cold. It's just a matter of keeping up the discipline. Work is the weak link here, and its elasticity is being tested.

I don't have any kid stories today because I haven't seen much of them. And what I did see of them was very busy and dramatic ( a good bit of crying today: see above paragraph "the cracks...")

Day 9

Just like Day 8. Except, I have to take a moment to thank everyone in the extended network of friends and family who've made this so much easier than it would be if I had to go it alone. I don't for a minute think "oh, this is what it would be like to be a single parent." I can't imagine how difficult that must be, especially if/when the kids are sick (as ours are as of tonight).

Day 10(!?)

So the good news is that they won. They won the crystal Bear! And to celebrate, I was woken up at 1am by a little one with a fever. Alarming. But she got better ( temporarily)

Day 11

It started out OK. And then it got better. And now it's worse. What was a fever in the middle of the night has returned as a fever plus cough. I don't know where this cough came from, but it sounds yuck. She's sleeping well enough, but it just makes you feel terrible listening to this little sick person. I'm hoping for a speedy recovery. But from the sounds of things currently, I'm seeing another sick day come my way tomorrow. This is when I start to feel a bit lonely and under pressure. I'm fine when everybody is healthy, but sick kids is such a heavy thing. It wears you out with worry. That's where I'm at right now anyway, 9pm, expecting it's going to be a long night.

Day whatever

We're in the final countdown. I lost count of the days. I don't typically blog every day and it's getting a bit on the nose. I was reluctant to do this diary in the first place because I don't typically enjoy being tied to a deadline, or writing to a subject. I usually like things to find me in their own time. But this was something I thought worth journaling. And yes it was. Another reason I didn't want to blog this whole couple weeks was "what if things got heavy?" And yes, they did. We had a doctor by the other night to look into some croup triggered by tonsillitis. That wasn't fun. And it continues to not be fun, with lots of coughing and medication and hand washing (not to mention wringing).

I feel like I'm done. And to some extent, we are done. But when you add jetlag and the current health-state of the household into the equation, I'm not done. It doesn't end. And this is just as true today as it was last month, and will be for some time to come. So, I'm not done. In fact, it's time to start dinner right now.

(and yes, for the Americans, we had a doctor come to the house at 11pm on a Sunday to see to our sick child. I think the degree to which this need is met could easily be taken as a Key Performance Indicator that qualifies a society as "civil". By way of full disclosure, I'm given to understand that this is not a service available to all people in Australia, or even most. But I'll also need to mention that we don't carry health insurance. It was all done on Medicare, at no additional cost to us. Stick that in your next president's pipe and have them smoke it. If the US could tend toward this level of medical care it'd help Australia to justify keeping it. I always end up talking about politics. How annoying is that? )

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