Saturday, 26 March 2011

"We Could Get Used To This..."

Home is where the telly is...
Today I partook of two sinfully delicious things: Oreo Cookie ice-cream for dessert at lunch, and a manicure/pedicure with my girlfriend SANS monsters.

My poor fingers and toes didn't know what hit them, and symbolically I suppose it was the first real ritual 'back into civilisation' after 13 months away (if you don't count my recent purchases...ahem).

Our friends are being truly lovely hosts and there is much swimming, tennis playing, movie watching, cake making, fine dining and cocktail sipping going on at present...bliss.  If they are not careful we're going to have our post redirected here to Panama, set up local bank accounts and move in permanently - manners be damned.

Of course, you could argue that this isn't the 'real' Panama...especially when driving through local areas with brightly coloured shacks, dirt roads and crowded Spanish neighbourhood grocery stores.  Our drive through another part of town today confirmed that certain local parts have much more in common with India than an exclusive Golf Club Resort.

But you know what?  I've roughed it plenty this past year.  I've eaten bugs in my breakfast cereal, slept in sandy, too large sheets which bunched up during the night and always seemed to contain crumbs in the crevices, and showered twice daily in a glorified petrol station.  I bore mosquitos, a four-in-a-bed scenario most nights, and sun damaged dreadlocked hair.  I did a few harrowing stints of solo parenting, survived more than a couple bouts of unpleasant illnesses and kept it together during some rather hellish plane, train and automobile journeys.  (Oh yeah, and I kept my behind small enough to ensure that our five month stint in Bali during which we rode 'four-on-a-bike' several times daily, was even a possibility.  That in itself is some feat, no?)

So you know what?  As I look down at my finely manicured hands and toes (covered in a gorgeous, sexy black cherry colour appropriately called 'Naughty') I say bring it on.  Civilisation that is.  I could get used (again) to this I feel.

Mind you, talk to me in a three or four months when I'm wrestling through pedestrian traffic with two tearing M&S bags ripping into my palms, trying to coerce two bored boys through the hectic streets of London simply by barking commands (so not effective), and you know what?  I might wish I was still sporting dirty fingernails, dirty hair and a sandy bum...if it meant I was staring at the Arabian Sea and not two little hooligans messing about at a crowded bus stop.

Just sayin'...
We could get used to this...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Note

Hanging out with friends in lovely Panama...

The gorgeous guest bedroom...(you can see the note propped up on bedside table)

So we arrived safely and happily in Panama without too much palaver.  Having scored bulkhead seats, the three hour flight was a relative breeze (discounting the fact that Dumpie was sat between me and a bleached blonde honey with a heaving bosom which must have undoubtedly proved a distraction for the Dumps who spent the trip alternately fluttering his eyelashes at her and repeatedly trying to plug his earphones into her seat jack.)

Our friend was waiting for us at the airport and despite having followed this blog, still willingly brought our shambolic crew back to his breathtakingly beautiful home.  Brave soul.  As we were tucking the boys into bed last night Egg chirped up, "I like this house...I wish we lived in a house like this."  ( too Egg!)

It is a beautiful home, and not only has it's own outdoor pool and lush garden, but has double height ceilings, is all glass and full of beautiful art and furnishings - with a lovely piano to boot.  I feel like I'm walking through the pages of Elle Decor or something.  If all that weren't enough, they also have two gorgeous singing birds in a gilded cage, two adorable four month old little black puppies, and two darling little boys aged three and five.

With a mixture of shock and delight we were, on our arrival, introduced to not one but three lovely nannies (one thoughtfully brought in especially to help with the monsters while we're here) and for most of yesterday the husband and I gratefully sat back and relaxed as Egg and Dumpie were fed, watered and taken off to the park for playtime and swimming while we got to dine in civilised fashion with our friends and sip lovely wine.  Ah, bliss...

Everything was perfect...too good to be true.  Until one of the nannies interrupted us mid-afternoon to ask if we knew where Egg was. we didn't.

A giant search then ensued, with even the neighbours roped in to help us locate our missing child, once it had been ascertained that he was nowhere inside the house.  After some time I started to quietly panic, and everyone was dispatched to various places around the neighbourhood to search for our missing Egg.  The security guard at the entrance of the complex was alerted and our friend chose this time to mention how a crocodile was sighted a few weeks ago crawling around the area.  (Gulp.)

All three nannies were (understandably) upset, given that the nanny to child ratio of 3:4 should have made this occurrence rather unlikely, and they insisted I check our bedroom for the third time.  I was on my hands and knees, looking under the bed when one of the nannies pointed to a slightly ajar wardrobe door.  I raced over, threw open the door, and there in the dark, sitting scrunched up at the back, clutching Bacon the bear and playing his new Nintendo, sat Egg.  Urghhh.

The search party was called off, Egg was made to apologise to all and sundry, and it wasn't until later that the husband noticed the 'note' on our bedside table, written by Egg before he 'disappeared'.

It said,

"I am in a secret hiding place where you will never find me bye bye love from Eggie"

How right he was.
It was all black and white

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Politics of Packing

So here I sit, staring hopefully at my laptop, as if somehow writing a blog will magically make the mountains of clothes and things spread out behind me disappear.  It's after 9pm and the husband and I have spent the day frittering away valuable time by all manner of little errands - none terribly important but somehow utterly time consuming.

I think that as a result of that last fiasco leaving India, when I had to ditch half my luggage during a frantic check-in in Goa (when I was informed that baggage restrictions had changed during the year we were away), I have lost my traveling confidence.  My packing muscle has certainly turned flabby at any rate.  I have no idea whether I'm bringing a ridiculous amount of things, or stupidly too little.  Let's put it this way:  I am not on good form at the moment.

Part of the problem is that I couldn't sleep last night, and so instead of doing the sensible thing and lying there until I drifted off, I had the brainwave of getting up at 4:30am and finishing off a novel I'd been reading.  This is all well and good until you get to evening of the same day, and find yourself negotiating four lanes of traffic and almost dozing at the wheel (got to keep a watch out for those pesky Sheriff's at the very least).

As we are currently in Daytona Beach and are flying to Panama from Miami Airport, the husband predicts that we have a six hour drive ahead of us.  I'm reckoning on five, give or take an extra hour for random puke stops, Starbucks refills and at least one wrong exit.  However I have long ago learned that it's not worth fighting over our 'timing discrepancies' the husband and I...No, better to let him have his way and be a tad bit early than race in just at the nick of time and do something stupid like leave your brand spanking new laptop at security.  Just saying.

I think my Dad will miss us while we're gone.  But then again, maybe not.  Maybe he is secretly looking forward to the peace and quiet we shall leave in our wake.  To the cessation of 24/7 Cartoon Network on full blast.  To the random assortment of crumbs and candies and stains on the carpet.

As for our friends in Panama (who are the sole reason we're going there), we hear they have a nanny.  Actually I think they may have two.  And a 'Manny' if rumours are to be believed.  And, they have two little boys similar ages to Eggie and Dumps.  It's a recipe for a brilliant time - or a nightmare depending on who is doing the childcare I suppose.

Hmm...four little boys under one roof.  Better go double check those mountains of stuff and make sure that the husband remembered to pack the valium.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

"Branches For Jesus"

Moments before it all kicked off...
Seven is my favourite number.  It always has been.  However today, as I sit here and mentally calculate all the 'incidents' I've suffered through today avec 'Les Monsters', I realise that there have been seven.  Maybe it's not my lucky number after all - not anymore.

The monsters and I are currently 'not speaking'.  They are sitting down watching a Disney movie and I am sat here in front of my laptop sipping a strong latte and wondering if I can make it through until tomorrow night when the husband (hopefully) comes home.

You see I've had it.  HAD IT.

"Why?" you ask.

Well, let's see.  I'm in a fairly bad mood to be honest, yet I can't quite pinpoint exactly which of the various incidences that occurred are to blame.  Which one exactly was responsible for pushing me figuratively over the edge?  Hmmm...I wonder.  Let's take a tally shall we?

Incident #1:
While on my morning run, Egg and Dumps availed themselves of my expensive lotions and potions and made a 'potion' of their own.   As I walked through the door, perspiring and talking myself down from a mini heart attack, I was met by two grinning little boys proffering a concoction of goo.  (Said 'goo' must be the most pricey stuff on the planet given it's made from the best Biotherm, Ole Henriksen, MAC, Korres and Murad have to offer.  URGHHH!)  I mentally calculate that their 'experiment' has cost roughly $40 or so.

Incident #2:
I discover three new stolen screwdrivers by the toothbrush holder and the bathroom light fixture falls off when I go to turn on the light.  Of course it does.  There are no screws left holding it in place.  Thanks Egg.

Incident #3:
Upon sitting down on the loo (us girls do that you know) I feel that familiar horrible feeling as I realise that for the millionth time I've just sat down on a wee-coated toilet seat.  My freshly scrubbed thighs are now sopping wet and coated in little boy urine.  This necessitates another shower.

Incident #4:
I discover that my stash of (sugar-free) bubble-gum has been discovered and pilferred.  Once I start looking around the bedroom I find odd little pale pink piles of discarded chewing gum everywhere.  Thanks guys.

Incident #5:
Driving to the park, Dumpie suddenly undoes Egg's seatbelt in the back seat, followed by his own, then despite my shouting and gesturing like a mad woman, launches himself into the front passenger seat and grins over at me.  I am livid (and panicking - there is no where to pull over as we are on a bridge) and Egg is screaming, "Dumps get back in your seat or the police are gonna stop Mama and put her in jail!"

Dumpie:  "I don't care I will just get a gun and shoot the police if they take Mama!".

At that moment I look over and see that the next car over is a Sheriff's one.  It's the first one I've seen in three weeks.  I tell Dumpie to duck his head down so we don't get stopped.  Moments later we pass yet another Sheriff and I am already concocting a story to tell the officer when I am pulled over.  Lucky escape.

Incident #6:
At the park, Egg idly picks up a cypress branch and starts waving it.  We discuss how in Easter stories people are always waving branches as Jesus rides through Jerusalem on a donkey.  I go back to my book.  Next thing I know there is a full scale attack as Dumpie, wielding two sharp heavy sticks and spinning them Kung-Fu style, whacks Egg's wrists and arms repeatedly in an effort to get him to drop the branch so he can have it for himself (have I mentioned his amazing aim?).  Everytime Egg gets whacked he screams out in agony, "This branch is for Jesus!  This branch is for Jesus!" sobbing and trying to run away.

At this point people start to take notice.  I suspect the screaming of Jesus' name has something to do with it.  A few people stop what they're doing and stare openly as the 'attack' goes on for another five minutes or so.  All that time I am pleading with them to stop fighting and almost lose an eye as I attempt to get close enough to Dumps to take one or both sticks off him.  Finally I succeed and drag both children to the car, informing them that park time is now OVER.  As I fish for my keys Dumpie runs back across the road by himself, back into the park and climbs atop the highest slide, sitting cross legged and resolutely refusing to come down.

After several minutes of cajoling, I retreat in defeat to the car, buckle Egg in and start the engine.  Egg is still clutching his 'branch for Jesus' and insists on taking it in the back seat with him.  I see parents gesturing, having noticed that I've left one son in the park and for all intents and purposes look like I'm about to drive off and abandon him (fyi that's one thing I don't have to worry about - anyone attempting to kidnap Dumps...good luck to them) and am aware what this looks like but have run out of options.  Only as I'm backing out of the parking lot, eyes glinting with fury and frustration, does Dumps tentatively come down and stroll over as if nothing is the matter.

Incident #7:
In the pharmacy a short while later (oh why oh why didn't I just go home and call it a day?) I am standing in a queue anxiously tapping my feet as the old dear in front of me rings through enough toilet rolls and instant coffee to get her through the next decade, then after painstakingly counting her change and getting her receipt, discovers that she's not used her special 'points'.  The cashier says, "Do you want me to ring everything in all over again?"  The old dear nods solemnly, "Oh yes, I must use my points."

(Normally, let it be said that I have all the time in the world for older folk.  I know I'm going to be one some day and the way I see it, if I am this vacant and shattered at my age now, goodness knows what state I'll be in once I'm a pensioner; so let's just say I have a lot of empathy.  However, as all this is going on, I am dying because Egg and Dumpie are clutching two giant Nerf machine guns and demanding I buy them.  They are threatening to open the packages and trying to leave the store with them.  I don't want to lose my place in line and am clutching onto the back of Dumpie's t-shirt, reasoning that if I can keep him under control, then I have a small chance of keeping Eggie in line with furtively whispered threats.

All of the sudden Dumpie stops struggling and I momentarily relax my grip.  He makes a dive for it and  races over to the giant display of Easter Creme Eggs and faster than I can fathom, has one open and in his mouth before I can stop him.  I am (familiar theme here folks?) again livid and angrily whisper "Dumpie come here now that is very bad you are stealing!"

He laughs then dips his hand back into the huge display case and grabs another one.  I give up all pretence of being a sane and together parent and leave my place in line to go over and wrestle another one out of his little hands on the floor, as he flings the discarded wrapper aside and pops yet another giant easter creme egg into his already bulging cheeks.  (I'm trying to keep track of how many he's eaten and how many Egg has surreptitiously slipped in his pocket while all the commotion has been going on, mentally calculating not only how many to tell the cashier to ring up, but how I'm going to discipline the monsters when we get home, and how we have pretty much run out of places to shop and hang out.)

So you see, here I sit, a beaten woman.  I love my little darlings, truly I do, and honestly, the times they are adorable and sweet and hilarious and angelic almost make up for days like today.

Almost.  But not quite.  Time for a glass of wine.  (Sorry, did I say glass?)
How do they go from this...
To this...?!

"Despicable Me"

The monsters monopolising the slide at the playground
This afternoon as I was sifting through my online shopping cart at Sephora, busy choosing my free samples and pondering the merits of SPF vs. non-SPF Primers, if only I'd actually looked up long enough to clock that Egg was clutching a handful of loose screws, muttering to himself and dipping in and out of my father's improvised indoor 'tool shed' (which is actually a closet but surprisingly stocked and spacious) perhaps I could have stopped Dumpie's later brush with disaster.

Allow me to explain:

Following his passion for the depressing coin-operated gambling den which is 'Joyland' (which incidentally he hasn't been back to since his father left for his cycling trip nearly three weeks ago), Egg quickly became obsessed with jewels and gems of all sorts.  This involved several days of covert rifling through my jewelry bag for the shinest baubles he could procure.  In the end I fobbed him off with a fake diamante bracelet, and thankfully he's stopped the thieving and stockpiling of my precious gems underneath his pillow, so that's a result.

Anyway, ever since he clocked Grandpa doing some minor DIY in his bedroom, Egg's new passion is now carpentry.  Hence the pile of screws on his bureau top, the stealthily hidden screwdrivers and the bizarre assortment of nickel and gold plate fixtures which litter our bedroom.

Today after taking them to a matinee of 'Despicable Me' (excellent by the way - my enjoyment marred only slightly thanks to Egg's enthusiastic LOUD proclamations throughout the film, and Dumpie's noisy crunching of popcorn and periodic declarations of 'I'M HUNGRY!"), we were in the lift coming upstairs and I happened to glance down and see this shiny circular thingamabobby Egg was clutching.  It had one giant, dangerous looking screw hanging out of it, and with much cajoling Egg admitted he had taken it from the parking garage and that it was attached the the automatic exiting contraption (sigh).

Later, as I got set to hoover (a daily necessity with the monsters) and went to plug in the machine, I recall vaguely wondering why the socket looked bare and there was a hole in the wall around it.  Turns out it was one of the many fixtures Egg thought to remove, and I mentally made a note to tell Grandpa about it.

Right before bath time as I was chatting to the husband on ichat, there was suddenly a scream behind me, several giant sparks flew and a flame manifested from the wall.  As the smell of acrid smoke wafted through the socket, Dumps, in all his naked glory stood shocked and still beside us all (Grandpa being alerted by Eggie's screams), staring in horror at the screwdriver still hanging out of the (live) socket.  Oops.

I was reminded of my conversation this morning in the car with the monsters, racing to make the movie in time.  They were asking what 'despicable' meant, and I gave them a very distracted non-Webster definition of, "extremely naughty...when someone is absolutely horrible and rotten."

They paused.  Then Eggie sincerely asked, "Are WE despicable Mama?"

I paused (in all fairness a touch too long, given I'd just finished chasing Dumpie round the car park, almost tripping and spraining my ankle in the process, and probably wasn't completely 'feeling the love' as they say).

"No my darling.  You and and Dumpie are NOT despicable.  You're a bit naughty...well A LOT naughty these days...but I'm sure you'll be good boys for Mama for the rest of the day right?"

Ah, yeah, right.
Butter wouldn't melt...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

"Making Friends With The Neighbours"

It's been 'one of those days' (sigh)...

This morning we were kicked out (sorry, 'escorted out') of the public library by a curmudgeonly old man...a security guard who (almost literally, i swear) snarled at Dumpie as he sort of 'flushed' us out the sliding glass doors - shooing us out with his liver-spotted hands like so much bad rubbish.

I was so horrified I couldn't even put on my 'how dare you' face and defend my youngest son, for truthfully, I had been unsuccessful in my earlier attempts to catch said four year old as he whipped up and down the aisles, laughing with glee and freaking out pensioners, imploring me to catch him.  It didn't help that I wasn't wearing contacts and had only dark prescription specs on, which were propped up on my head in an effort to not try and appear as though I thought I was some kind of a rockstar or something.  I could barely see him and yet strangely I was aware of every eye in the vicinity on me.

Three times we (and by 'we' I mean, inadvertently 'me') were publicly told off and cautioned, and were basically cased by the security guard the entire time we were there.  He was practically breathing down our necks.  (Truth be told he was a mean old grinch of a fella but wasn't completely unjustified I suppose...I guess 'redistributing' the hundreds of dvds in the adult section in an attempt to locate Winnie The Pooh didn't make Dumpie any friends...or maybe it was the impromptu game of hide and seek through the shelves??)

At any rate, just when I thought it couldn't get worse, we arrived back home, and stepped into a lift with a biker type fellow who was sporting a longish grey beard and apparently some rather squiffy armpits.
Dumpie immediately made a big show of plugging his nose and staring disgustedly up at this man as we climbed nine flights, and I found myself wanting to convulse with laughter and also simultaneously die of embarrassment.  He refused to unplug his nose and thankfully Egg was there to engage him in friendly chit-chat (something his father also excels at) while I willed the lift to move faster before the man noticed.  (Who am I kidding...he totally clocked Dumps.)

When we finally exited, Egg still chattering away to the fellow as the door closed on him and he continued up, I asked Dumpie why he had plugged his nose.

"Because that man had a bad smell and it was making me sick."

Okay then.

During dinner, as my father and I tried to pretend like there was nothing wrong with the fact that Dumpie was sat astride Eggie, riding him like a cowboy around the coffee table, I idly wondered when the husband was coming back.

When he does...I'm outta here.  Time to reboot the motherboard...time to download a more recent version of mothering software.  Seriously.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

'Baby Bin Laden' and 'Egg The Terrible'...

Yesterday morning on my beach run, I could have sworn that I spotted the husband (or someone who looks remarkably like him) a few miles down.  Then I realised that of course it couldn't be him because he was somewhere down in the Keys - as evidenced by this pic he sent me of his alfresco hotel experience the other night.
But THEN I thought, no really, what if he's just pretended to go away for a cycle trip and really just booked himself into a cheap and nasty Daytona hotel for a few weeks of peace and quiet from the monsters.  I wouldn't put it past him (or me come to think of it).  He could spend his days typing in some dodgy hotel, motel, holiday inn...and then at night head out to a local biker bar or perhaps Hooters if he was missing the Missus.

Every day now my father asks when le husband is coming back.  My poor Dad has taken to retreating to his room for peace and quiet, door closed, with a disturbing frequency as of late.  (So have I to be fair, but the monsters always come roaring in, plastic guns or homemade whips at the ready, laughing, wrestling each other and jumping on the beds, disturbing any semblance of peace I may have managed to whittle together for a few precious moments of 'me time'.)

Before he left, the husband thoughtfully put together a 'daily schedule' for me and the Monsters (he loves powerpoint and I have reason to believe that spreadsheets have a similar effect on his libido as say oysters do for others...but i digress).  He felt that routine and pre-planned, predictable activities might be the way forward while he was in absentia.  I recall trying to wipe the smirk off my face as he earnestly penciled up a 'typical day', and although, in all fairness it wasn't the craziest idea on the planet, I knew he was off on an unrealistic one,  simply by noting the absence of any 'telly time while Mama hides out in the bedroom and tries to read a book'.  (Nor was any allowance for 'drink wine and moan online' time given for yours truly at the end of the day.  Perhaps he thought I'd see to that myself.)

But then how could he have known that our already fragile hold on the Monsters would completely unravel  in tornado-like fashion into a domestic free-for-all that would see Dumpie lassoing me about the head with a ingenious flying pen after tying my legs together with utility rope as I sat typing at the table - while Egg surreptitiously helped himself to six donuts and a family pack of Salt n' Vinegar crisps in a sneaky gobble-down behind the sofa.
I won't even mention the living room, which now boasts asymmetric creme curtains thanks to a rather frenzied re-enactment one afternoon of a Wild West showdown between 'Buffalo Egg' and 'Calamity Dumps'.  Or the expensive soft green sofa pillows which now look rather misshapen and odd, having had their lovely trimming 'trimmed' thanks to the expert manoevers of a scissor-happy Dumps.

Then there is the expensive Jacuzzi bath which my father had installed to help his aching back.  It's proven to be the perfect implement with which to turn a bog standard bathroom into foam party heaven.  All it requires is a heavy handed pour of the Mr. Bubble combined with the jacuzzi on full blast in a not-yet filled tub and time (sigh).

Taking them out in public, unfortunately necessary, results in a daily exercise of humiliation wherever we go.  If it's the park, then the Monsters will commandeer the biggest and best slide and spend hours trying to throw each other off the side - refusing to let any other children use it for it's proper sliding down use.  I spend a lot of time apologising, and when that runs thin, I find burying myself in my book on a park bench, casting disparaging looks of mutual disgust to the other parents and pretending they're not mine, works a treat.

God forbid I bring them into a store - any store.  Today it was Walmart.  When in doubt, that mega shrine to disposable materialism and 'everything-under-the-sun' mentality is a great place to lose yourself in...for hours.  I figured that based on the myriad of mad, colourful and strangely obese specimens who often lurk the aisles in the Walmart's that litter Southern Florida, that a couple of hyper, badly behaved, mini wrestling champions might just fly under the radar.  How wrong I was.

I don't know why I never realised how BIG the superstore is, and how TEMPTING those long, long aisles must be to little boys who love nothing more than chasing each other with various food products they've grabbed off the shelves mid-run.  Having at last finally corralled them by the Check-Out (by way of bubble-gum machine bribery...i don't care...i'm not proud) I noticed a commotion in the Customer Services area nearby.  The monsters had commandeered the two drinking fountains and were holding a couple of sweet old ladies hostage with an impromptu waterworks display given that they had newly discovered how to use their little thumbs to only partially block the stream of water.  A crowd had gathered by the time I finally made it over there, having had to give up my place in the queue, and by now a fuming, bright red.

Then, I made the mistake of allowing Dumpie to hold the container of candy sprinkles.  (I WAS you see, going to make the boys red velvet cupcakes with fluffy vanilla icing as a treat, but after they suddenly took off in an impromptu 'shriek and chase' back through the store, I not only abandoned all hope - I unceremoniously dumped my basket and went storming off to hunt them down.  I did catch them you'll be glad to know, but sadly the sprinkles met a disastrous end as they went flying somewhere in the nether regions of Aisle fourteen I believe, turning what was once an innocuous area into a sea of colour.  Strangely, I don't actually recall storming out of the store, but I do suspect I was muttering furiously to myself (a worrying habit I've taken to lately), utterly humiliated and hoping they'd have to good sense to follow me, but then again not overly concerned at that point if they didn't.
Can you tell I've (almost) had it?  Why are they so naughty?  Are they taking advantage of a kind-hearted Grandfather and a maniacal mother who has all but given up trying for any semblance of order and discipline?

Left with no other options, I did what any other desperate mother might do in my situation.  I begged Grandpa to present Egg with his birthday present three months early, and went out and procured a brand spanking new limited edition red Mario Bros. Nintendo Dsi XL (he lost his beloved old Nintendo on some plane or another during our big shift from South East Asia over to North America last month).

Spoiling him?  Yep.  Rewarding him for bad behaviour?  You betcha.  Do I care?  Not a bit.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and this is my last full blown attempt to restore order before I just give up altogether and the husband returns in a few weeks time to find my father holed up in his part of the condo, too terrified to come out, and I am found passed out in the bedroom, tied up, and surrounded by empty wine bottles and a plethora of white powdered donuts.

Thursday, 3 March 2011


About a week ago, Grandpa made the fatal mistake of taking us for a walk along the Daytona Beach boardwalk.  Our progress toward the faraway ferris wheel was halted when we came upon a somewhat rundown, seen-better-days amusement arcade, aptly named 'Joyland'.

Amused by the irony, I made the monsters stop and pose for a picture beneath the retro looking sign, not realising at the time the significance 'Joyland' would have to our family (and my sanity) in the coming days.

Grandpa reached into his pocket, emptied some quarters into the monsters outstretched hands, then smiled indulgently as he watched them rush off to deposit the coins into whichever games took their fancy.  While Dumpie wisely pocketed most of his change (no doubt recalling that at the next visit to a grocery store they could be exchanged for a handful of bubblegum from the candy machines) Egg raced to the long line of 'Skee-Ball' machines and excitedly began whipping the balls up the ramp and into the little holes, exclaiming as a band of tickets came out of the machine according to his score.

He was hooked.  That was it.  And those Skee-Ball machines gobbled up the equivalent of several more dollars until we dragged Egg off them, propelling he and Dumps to the back of the arcade where all their tickets could be exchanged for 'prizes'.

I use this term loosely, for the prizes mostly consisted of bits of useless plastic, or tiny little penny candies - clearly one had to spend a weeks salary to get even close to earning enough tickets to nab one of the tantalizing prizes on the upper shelves.  Much to our humiliation, the monsters put up such a stink about the useless 'prizes' they could choose from, that they elicited sympathy (or should I say pity) from a passing couple who felt compelled to stop and offer up their tickets to the cause.  I felt like a charity case.  And the sad part is that we STILL didn't have enough tickets to trade in for anything even remotely interesting.

Then Egg spied something twinkling in the glass shelves over by the other end - spotting a selection of totally fake (and cheap) sparkly big 'diamonds'.  He shrieked with glee (Egg is into all things jewel right now - sparkly gemstones, crystals, diamonds...) and exclaimed that THAT was what he wanted.  (At this point he was positively jumping up and down for joy, clapping his hands and generally making a racket in all his excitement.)

Glancing at the 120 points worth of tickets in our hand, I shot a look of defeat at the husband.  The ring would need 1200 points - a minimum of thirty dollars or so worth of decently scored Skee-Ball games the husband reckoned.

So amongst vehement protestations we traded in our fistful of tickets for two microscopic plastic lizards and two giant plastic dice, one of which immediately broke, and the boys turned away disappointed, eyes downcast, Egg mumbling about the fact that all he ever wanted in the whole wide world was a diamond and now he had found the biggest one in the whole world and he couldn't have it.

I thought this would be the end of it, but sadly not.  Every single day since then Egg has begged to go back to Joyland.  He doesn't care about the beach, isn't interested in theme parks or playing games.  He just wants to go back to Joyland and play enough Skee-Ball games to win the bloody diamond.

The day before the husband left for his crazy three week Key West Cycle Excursion, out of guilt, or perhaps misplaced glee about being able to escape his domestic confines for such a blissfully long time, he took Egg back to Joyland to win some more tickets...dragging Dumps and I along for the ride.

Egg was ecstatic to be back and promptly, with dizzying single-mindedness, set about emptying the husbands wallet of all the cash he could beg, borrow and plead for, and Skee-Balled himself mental.   (To his credit, he's getting rather good...disturbingly so).  Even Dumpie got in on the action - finding another gambling machine where you have to punch a button to stop these twinkling lights when they land on a certain place.

When Dumpie first came running up proudly clutching a whole long strip of tickets, we assumed he had been given them or stolen them from a machine someone had abandoned.  But no.   With shock I followed him over to this flashing light game, watched as he popped in a quarter and proceeded to concentrate with all his might (though he could barely reach up on his tippy-toes to see the lights) and 'WHAM' - whacked the button at the exact right time and glanced upward gleefully as the machine beeped manically and spit out a huge row of tickets.  Well I'll be darned.

Maybe Dada doesn't have to go back and get a job after all.  Maybe we've been blind to the fact that a gambling genius abides in our house and all we need to do is foster this illicit skill of his and get him on the Vegas circuit asap. we come...

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

"Hit The Road Jack..."

trying to contain his glee about seconds from being FREE!
So the husband has taken off.  Literally.  But not long term (one would like to hope).  After a full year in close quarters en famille, he has taken leave of the monsters and me and has departed on his spankin' brand new red retro bicycle (this time of the non-motorised variety) from here in Daytona Beach, heading southward on Highway Numero Uno to Key West.

Key West is not only the gay capital of the world but also boasts tropical weather and a plethora of head shops.  Most importantly it's also a few hundred miles south of us and that's probably part of the appeal.  And who can blame him?

Of course it doesn't help that he's just finished reading Paul Theroux's 'My Other Life' about the authors search for adventure and travel within the framework of a conventional family.

Never mind.  I've given him my blessing.  A hilarious Indian family man we once met in Goa years back, a tad merry after a few too many Kingfishers at dinner one night, clapped the husband vigourously on the back and imparted these great words of wisdom:

"Happy wife...happy life!"

He's not wrong:)  But conversely, a happy husband makes for a happy(er) wife too, so it is with my blessing that I packed him off a few days ago, with instructions to:

a) not get killed (we have no life insurance...and he has another thing coming if he thinks I am going to raise the monsters on my own)

b) steer clear of 'dangerous types' (hey, we are in Florida after all - a notorious breeding ground for weirdo serial killers)

c) come home (if he's not back in three weeks there is going to be hell to pay.  seriously.)

In the meantime, Eggie, Dumps and I are spending some much needed (and very overdue) time with 'Grandpa' - my father who winters here in Florida every year.  Every day we take long walks on the beach, cook up lovely meals together, and when I can, I sneak out to places like Target, Walmart and Publix superstores to roam the aisles like the consumerist junkie I (secretly) am.

After a year spent in South East Asia, I am simply blown away by the sheer amount of THINGS FOR SALE here in America.

I could easily spend an hour just gazing at the shelf containing various ice-cream toppings for instance.  And don't even get me started on the baking section.  Oh, and the glories that await me in the kitchen implements section!

In fact, I'm thinking of regaling y'all (notice the ease with which I've picked up what I like to call 'hick-speak' with apparent ease after only having been here two if to the trailer born) with pictures and details of all my latest 'finds'...kind of like a daily 'Check THIS out'!

But of course that may have to wait until I get my laptop back.  IF I get my laptop back.

In fact the reason I've not been blogging since we got here has been because I have still not recovered my beloved MacBook.  Nope.  And since the husband has commandeered his for his little 'On The Road Odyssey' I've been fighting to get onto my father's computer, which is hotly contended for given that he and Egg are currently using it to play online poker 24/7...

Stay tuned...
a big squeezy hug good-by for Dada from the Monsters...