Thursday, 30 October 2008

Things that Rock Thursday - we have the technology

Tomorrow, I've got someone coming to stay for the weekend (yes, my parents were just here for over two weeks until last Thursday, now that you mention it, and yes, my aunt and uncle were here pretty darn recently too, and yep, that was J's brother who came last weekend so yes, we certainly aren't lonely at the moment). And I haven't shopped properly for groceries since BEFORE we went to Italy - possibly about two weeks before we went to Italy.

Things have got so bad that we actually out of pasta. Since we buy pasta at least 4kg at a time, and eat pasta-with-quick-home-made-tomato-sauce at least three times a week, as I've already said, this something of a chez-fascinating-life emergency situation. And the week has been a total writeoff, timewise, and today I needed to meet someone for coffee straight after work, then be at home for exactly half an hour to take a pone call from tomorrow's guest to arrange stuff, then go out again to see someone else who isn't well, and J has the car so I couldn't even get to the shops if I had the time. But never fear, because the thing that rocks my world this thursday is ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING. I've got to ask - what did we EVER do without it? I've just ordered, and now while I'm writing this, someone else is bagging my stuff. What's not to love about that? Some people don't do it because of hte delivery charge, but I know that I save at LEAST that much money in stuff that I don't need which I would buy if I saw it. Not being at the shops, means not seeing it, means totally justifying the delivery charge. Means just that one tiny drop less trauma when it's really not needed. Means it totally rocks.

I should interject here and say that the person coming tomorrow is someone that I love very much, and cant' wait to see. But it would be easier if she would agree that she didn't need to eat anything while she was here. Or need clean sheets, come to think of it. Hmmm.

While I'm here, can I say thanks very much to those of you who have said nice and supportive things to me over the last difficult week or so? I don't like to exaggerate, but I feel like the last few weeks have been the most difficult in the entire history of the world. (Errr... joke. I seem to have forgotten how to make them). I have this book sitting on top of a pile, waiting to be shelved, and I've had to turn it face down because I keep feeling like it's mocking me: Cos this is how I keep on feeling. (It's not that great a book, by the way. Don't all rush to buy it. I liked the first two in the series an awful lot more). I keep being tempted by two of the devil's worst lies - either God is good, but has no power over the world and my life, or he has power but isn't good. I need to keep remembering that the entire history of the world is not, actually, about me, and maybe God has other purposes in mind other than making sure I'm happy all the time, or that I always get what I want, even when what I want seems to be a good thing. I could list the last month or so and outline what has gone wrong each day, but I'm sure you've all had similar periods in your lives and I doubt you want to live vicariously through mine too. Last night I read these verses and they hit me harder than they ever have before, maybe because we're also reading books on discipline:

(HEBREWS 12) 7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? .............11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

And you know? I think all this ... this mess that my life feels like definitely does count as hardship. God is a good, powerful God. He could make our way easy, if that was what He thought best. Obviously, he doesn't - not right now, anyway. He made the stars - he could easily coordinate work schedules so there wasn't so much pressure there. But He hasn't, not now. And so on.

There are two imperatives in that bunch of verses - endure and strengthen. And I don't want to endure. I want a quick, easy way out. And I don't really want to strengthen, because growing in strength means training, and struggling, and exercising. (Apparently. I can hardly lift a can of beans, either physically or in any more metaphorical way at the moment). This feels like more than I can do at the moment. I'm so glad it's not all up to me. I'm so glad I believe that Philippians 1:6 is true.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Well Finally

I'm not depressed any more! That's right, folks. Unfortunately, it's because I'm too busy being mad. Today, in a monumental error of 'I can't believe that actually happened' proportions, I found out that our adoption approval body completely ignored my requests for confidentiality and sent an employee reference request straight to my workplace.

A while ago, I mentioned that J and I were limiting who we told about this whole adoption process until we had a positive outcome at a UK approval panel. This means that, apart from one very close friend and my boss (who needed to know, to provide the reference that has caused all the trouble) nobody at my work knows what's going on. Mostly, I think this has been the right decision. The downside is that when I come in emotionally shaken up after a difficult SW visit, nobody cuts me any slack. The upside, though, is that when I come in emotionally shaken up after a difficult SW meeting, I don't have to talk about it. And I don't have explain myself, or our decisions, to anybody, and by the time we tell them what's going on it will be something that IS happening, not something we are considering.

So, when we had a conversation with our SW a few weeks ago about employers' references, I was really, really careful to specify that, actually, I'm keeping this quiet at work at the moment and please don't send the reference request to the employment address on my application form. I'll spare you the details, but it felt a little like my conversation with the doctor's receptionist a few months ago. I said, repeatedly, that I work deep within central administration at a university where everyone knows everyone else. And I've never, ever met a worse bunch of gossips. And our adoption is my personal information, and I really want to control when to share this. Don't send it to human resources, because I know people in human resources. Don't send it to finance, because I know people in finance. Don't send it to me at work, because people are extremely nosy about each others' mail, and I don't want to have to explain it. And totally, certainly, absolutely do NOT send it to my boss's direct address, because he is far too senior to do anything as menial as open his own post and his team of assistants are all people with whom I work really closely. Please only, only send this to my home address. I can give it to him by hand. I reiterated and reiterated this, and was 100% sure I had made it crystal clear.

You can probably guess where this story is going. Actually, I guess I already told you in the first paragraph.

So anyway, I had one of my regular meetings with my boss this morning, and at one point he casually mentioned that he had received and filled in my reference form. Which is obviously not what I expected, as it had not yet arrived at my house, but at the time I had to ignore the flashing red sirens and 'ding ding ding' alarm bells that were going off deep in my brain so that I could concentrate on thinking about the 1.8 million pounds of funding we seem to have lost in the last week. And we finished our meeting and I went back to my desk.

About five minutes later the sirens suddenly reached a pitch where I could no longer ignore them, millions of pounds or no millions of pounds, and I found myself stomping back down the stairs into his office to talk to his PA. I hauled her into a vacant room and asked whether she had, errrr, needed to open a letter to R that was, errrr, actually about me. And yes, she had, and she said she felt really bad about it because she knew that she wasn't supposed to know, and she hadn't wanted to tell me that she knew because she felt really bad. And of course I'm not mad at her - she's a good friend, and obviously it's not her fault, and she was in an impossible position. The agency, on the other hand - a different story. I was really looking forward to telling this friend that we were adopting, and now I'm not even going to get to do that. I'm certainly going to let the agency know that I don't want this happening again, but I did think it was clear the first time - what will it change if I shout at someone? I wish I could, though. These things are really personal, and how many more times do I have to have my privacy unexpectedly invaded before this process is over?

In the meantime..... ummm..... I promised something cheerful, so please enjoy this delightful picture of a cat.

more animals

Friday, 24 October 2008

Speaking of Rocks

Okay, mountains rather than rocks (v2):

Psalm 46
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A song.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Today I'm very glad that I know this Psalm is true, because to be honest I don't feel it. I can't say too much more than I did yesterday, because things still seem to be in flux, and obviously I can't speak for either the Ethiopian govt or the community of UK adopters. I hope it was okay to say as much as I did. The only further thing I can probably say is that, given the choice, we would love, love, love to be able to use an agency. But the agencies are only licensed to do adoptions for US citizens (or Spanish citizens, or Belgian, or whatever, depending on the agency), so we can't sign up with them. Previously, we've been able to give someone Power of Attorney to start the process off for us, but due to the changes, this won't be an option any longer. We're all still very unclear about how the process of identifying a child will actually happen - I'm still having nightmare visions of a baby lineup, although we're hoping very much this won't ever become a reality.

I'd like to say that, despite the difficulties, I have an overwhelming sense of peace about all this. But I don't. The last three weeks have felt incredibly difficult, and yes, I know I was on holiday last week but quite a lot of the time that I wasn't eating pecorino was spent in tears, for all the usual reasons as well as some of these new ones. At that stage we knew that some things were changing, although we didn't realise quite how much at the time. The last few weeks have felt like being in some kind of emotional boxing match, but with our hands tied behind our backs so we can't punch back. Every day feels like it brings new difficulties. Each blow makes me reel and I keep thinking well, I'll just recover from this one and then, then, we'll get a break and we can regroup and start thinking about how to move forward again. But then wham - it's something else and I'm back on the floor.

Something more cheerful next time, I promise.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Things that Rock Thursday

The whole idea of this day-of-the-week thing was to choose something deliberately positive. But today? Sorry, no can do.

Some bits of news have been dripping through for the last week that some of the rules for UK adoptions were changing. Just before we left for our holiday, we found out that our trip to Ethiopia was going to have to be about a month long in order for us to be present at the court hearing and complete three separate sets of of paperwork. And obviously we're also going to need time at home as a family before J goes back to work, so... this is not trivial. But now. We've just found out (a few hours ago) that, due to some rule changes, all UK adoptions now need to be totally independent. They were always semi-independent, which was stinky enough, frankly, but now we feel like we're in total limbo. The worst part is that we're now going to have to make two trips to Ethiopia, with the first being a trip to identify a child. I just can't tell you how much I don't want to do that. How are we supposed to pick our future son or daughter? What possible criteria can there be? The child who is cutest? The youngest? The one with the best hair? The one you feel most sorry for?

I can't really wrap my head around this.

This week has also been pretty awful for other reasons that are too boring to go into (although if you thought birth announcements, pregnancy announcements, travel for work and unexpected new urgent work projects, as well as houseguests galore, you wouldn't be too far out). Today I don't think anything rocks. Sorry.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A Tag and a Thud

Well, here I am again, back to earth with a resounding thud. More on the week away later, I think, when I'm not feeling so immediately depressed about being at work in the rain rather than in the garden of an old farmhouse in the sun. Eating proscuttio crudo. And pecorino. And cantucci. And maybe later, some gelati. And then some pesto. And astonishingly good grapes.

I'm really not helping myself here, am I?
The region we were in (and that is in that photo, although that wasn't the exact place we stayed) was the Crete Senese - the hills just south of Siena. Which is surely some of the loveliest scenery on earth - not dramatic, but it's a landscape I don't think I'd ever tire of (not that I'm ever likely to find out).

Anyway, while I was away I was tagged twice, by Lori and Tiffany. Rather than doing 14 things, I've listed 7 random things about me, and 7 random things I wish I had known before I went away.

7 random things about me

1. I have a PhD in metallurgy.

2. My family lived in Kenya for two years when I was a child.

3. I'm banned from ever donating blood, because I had malaria when I was six and my blood still has antibodies (see #2). I even got a letter about it from the blood service - it said ' if we want your blood, we will contact you. Please do not ever contact us again'. Nice.

4. I'm really frightened of driving. I have a license, but almost never hop in the drivers' side of the car. We live in the centre of our town, so I get around everywhere by bus and walking. As far as phobias go, I think it is a pretty logical one - I'd much rather face a spider than get in a car. I know this is pathetic.

5. I subscribe to Vogue.

6. Despite all the inspiration in #5, I'm not the world's snappiest dresser. My resolution for the next year is 'dress less like a librarian'. Sorry to any librarians.

7. I grew up in Australia, and apart from the 2 years in Kenya, spent my whole life there until I moved to England to study (see #1). All my family still live there.

7 random things I wish I had known before I went away:

1. Just because you can work out what 'reservazione' 'stazione' and 'caffe' mean, it doesn't actually mean you can speak Italian. Don't get cocky.

2. If there's no menu, and the waiter just suggests things to eat, your meal could be quite expensive.

3. Don't take my mother on at Cluedo, because you will lose.

4. Don't pin all your hopes of a happy return on seeing the cat, because he will be mad that you left in the first place. If you ignore his obviously bristling fur and pick him up, hoping for nose kisses, you'd better be within scream earshot so someone can rescue you from having his angry claws buried in your face.

5. If you decide to change the cat's litter tray immediately on returning home, check that you have spare litter before doing so. Otherwise you may have to then lock the cat outside until you can go to the supermarket, exacerbating his foul mood.

6. Think long and hard before inviting your parents in law over to spend the whole day with you and your parents immediately after you return from holiday.

7. If you have a social worker's visit on the monday immediately after going away, do email a colleague to remind work of this fact. Do not email the one colleague who happens to be away sick.

Hmmm... who needs to be tagged? I tag filoli , anna, courtney, misty, steve & jen, brenda, and lucy. Some of you may have already been tagged, but if you haven't actually posted yet... that's good enough for me.
Here are the rules.
I can't really read them, but I think they basically say: Tell us 7 random things about you. Tag 7 people. Let them know by commenting. Link to the person who tagged you. Send them your bank details, so that you can receive the $1,000,000 owing to you from the estate of a Nigerian oil baron. Okay, maybe not that last one. Worth a try, though, huh? (Lucy, obviously you won't be linking to me, or you'll be in all kinds of trouble!!)

Saturday, 11 October 2008

So the 11th is TODAY, huh?

And that would be the day that J and I go on holiday with my parents for a week. How did this sneak up on me so darn fast? In all the stress of getting stuff done before the holiday (two social worker visits in one week, plus lots of stinkin' overtime at work) I seem to have forgotten about the actual holiday. Ooops. Better go pack. Leaving on a train at 3. And it's 2. Hopefully all the running around will be worth it, and by the end of the day we'll be here:

If my roaming works properly, I will still be stalking all your blogs! But I'll be doing it from my phone so won't be able to comment. We've got to do our eco maps, write a personal statement and fill in our pet survey while we're away, so we definitely will still have our heads in adoption-space. Have a great week!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

ThingsThatRock Thursday

So, how did it get to be Thursday again already? I guess time just flies because life is busy. Too often, J and I find that we are rushing around past each other, with different commitments on different days (today, for example - he's fixing someone's plumbing and I'm working late with some stuff to finish before I go on holiday on Saturday. But that's another story). And too often, we find ourselves grabbing something quick to eat which is probably the same quick thing to eat we had at least twice already that week. (In our house, that's spaghetti with quick homemade tomato sauce. Nice, but three times a week is probably enough). So a while back, we instituted a tradition of making sure that once a week, at least, we had something delicious for dinner - preferably a new recipe that hadn't been tried before, or something really nice we hadn't had in a while. Normally, this ended up being some kind of pie (who doesn't love pie!) so it got christened 'thursday night pie night'.

But then along came weight watchers, which is why I'm talking about this tradition in the past tense. Feeling a bit chubby? Well, sorry, no pie for you. At least, not the kind of pie I loved to make - a pie bursting with creamy deliciousness, preferably from Sophie Conran's Pies (an absolute jewel of a book) guaranteed to make your waistband tighter with just one slice. For a few weeks, I mourned the loss of the pie, until I discovered my new best friend, and this Thursday's Thing That Rocks: Filo Pastry. Until recently, I'd never cooked with it, but on reading a Weight Watcher's cookbook I discovered that a sheet of this wonder ingredient was only half a point. Suddenly, in my house, it is all filo, all the time.

Here is Sunday lunch from a week ago:

which is the original WW recipe which caught my eye (Roasted tomato tart, made with a filo crust and a filling that is basically quark beaten with herbs and two eggs then baked in the oven. Super simple, super tasty, only three points!) I've also been promised a butternut squash and lentil strudel recipe by a colleague, which will apparently change my whole outlook on life. I can't wait. So far, I've managed to stop myself making any baklava, despite the obvious temptation, or layering it up with butter and feta, all of which would rather defeat the WW point of the whole thing.

So anyway, sorry for two food posts in such quick succession, but filo is definitely something that rocks. Bake with some today!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

I'm not really feeling the love

I have something to admit, blogosphere - I finished Twlight, and I didn't love it. Not that I hated it or anything, I was just... undecided. Kinda good, and I've got nothing against a good melodrama, but unfortunately both Edward and Bella irritated me beyond measure. All the 'oh, you don't realise how amazing you are', 'No, YOU don't realise how amazing YOU are' began to wear pretty thin, and not much else happened during a good chunk of the book. It was terrifyingly authentic in one way - it felt just like having to sit in and listen on two dating seventeen year olds (and I've helped lead youth groups and teenage camps, so I know what I'm talking about here). And really, spare me the descriptions of Edward's tautly muscled alabaster chest. Honestly - that's grossing me out a bit. So all of that I didn't love. But then it got quite exciting towards the end, and it didn't really finish - it was more like the end of an episode than the end of a story, and now I want to know what happens next. Harrumph. Is there less anatomical description and more plot in the next books?

On the adoption front, J and I managed to make it through yesterday's appointment without embarrassing ourselves too badly, I think. But I really have no idea what the social worker learned in those 2 1/2 hours. It's extremely hard to answer really detailed questions on discipline techniques in any kind of a useful way at this stage. I just felt like I was parroting. And it's pretty easy to talk about what kind of parent you would like to be. But it felt about as real as saying 'well, I'm about five foot eleven, blonde hair, enormous blue eyes, and people are always commenting on my long, long legs'. As in: saying it doesn't make it true.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

A Cold Remedy (for a cold day)

Well, last week's cold / lurgy seems to be turning into this week's chest infection. As a result, my brain is pretty much on standby - NOT great timing for another visit from the social worker this evening to discuss our childcare experience, attitude to discipline and ability to adapt our parenting skills to individual children's needs. I've been dreading this particular visit for a while so perhaps it's as well that I'll float through it in a haze of drugs. Completely legal drugs, I hasten to add.
It's been one of those weeks I've just been gritting my teeth and trying to survive through rather than anything more interesting or noble. After a few days off work, I was finally back yesterday and sat at my desk infecting all those around me, which I am sure they were thrilled about. At the end of the day, I was overtaken by the desire for a bowl of something nourishing, spicy, sour, headclearing, healthy and comforting.
Basically I wanted chili ramen soup from wagamama, but I wasn't going to get it, as it was sheeting rain and not really a going-out-for-soup kind of night. Short of bribing someone to go and get some for me, I was running out of options. I dredged through my recipe memories and eventually came up with this, which I present with apologies to Nigel Slater, whose once-glorious recipe (which no doubt included lots of virtuous things eg. vegetables) has been massacred due to my greed, need for instant gratification, and unwillingness to detour past the library to re-borrow a book. It probably bears little relation to his written recipe (which was in Real Food, if memory serves) but I'm sure the star anise, at least, were in the original.
A spicy, clear, sinus-clearing soup

For two people:
Get some water simmering. To the pot, add:
a big knob of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
two cloves of garlic, ditto
a splash of fish sauce (go easy at first, you can always add more later)
some vegetable stock (from a cube / bottle / tub, obviously)
a lime, cut into quarters
a chili, sliced
two whole star anise, if you've got them (otherwise a pinch of chinese five-spice)
plus anything else you think might help - dried japanese mushrooms are great, apparently, but i've never been able to find any where I live, or maybe some spring onions (scallions?)
Simmer for as long as it takes to sort out the rest of the meal. Taste as you go and adjust flavours if needed, obviously.

Now heat up your griddle pan. Slash two chicken breasts and marinate them in whatever appropriate flavours you have in your cupboard. Last night, I used a splash of soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil, and the juice of a lime. I also used a splash of japanese rice vinegar, but that was only because i was so surprised to find it when rooting through the pantry - I have no recollection at all of buying it, and it was still sealed. It probably helped a bit but I can't really imagine it did anything that the lime juice didn't do equally well. Rub the marinade into the chicken so that it is well coated and is soaking into the slashes. Obviously it would be nice if you could marinate the chicken overnight, but if you're well enough to be thinking about tomorrow's dinner already, you're probably not sick enough to need the soup.

When your husband gets home from work, or whatever your own personal final signal is to get dinner finished, get a second pot of water boiling and griddle the chicken for about four minutes per side, or however long it takes to cook them. The marinating and griddling should give you deeply savoury stripes.

With about three minutes to go, boil about 100g of noodles according to the directions on your noodle packet. (I like the noodles that come in individual portion cakes, because they tend to be a bit less messy. Any kind of noodle will work here, by the way. My favourite are Ho Fun (flat thai rice noodles) but they're hard to find here so I tend to use egg).

Take the chicken breasts off the griddle and cut into diagonal slices that are small enough to grab with chopsticks.

To eat:
Strain the broth into the biggest bowls you've got, leaving all the bits from the pot behind. Add the noodles, and top with the sliced chicken breasts. The chili and lime really clear the head, so make sure you have a box of tissues to hand!

This won't actually cure a cold, but I guarantee it will make you feel better for a little while. Especially if someone else does the washing up.

I didn't take a picture last night when it looked rather fine, but here are the lunchtime leftovers.
Excuse me now while I go eat this.

Friday, 3 October 2008

ThingsThatRock Thursday... kinda

Well, I've been feeling kind of left out because I don't have any kind of a regular blog feature. Othe people have haikus, regular photo days and all kinds of other cool stuff, and I've been vaguely musing about doing something like this for a while. What tipped me right over the blog-envy edge was Filoli's new Wino Wednesday - why didn't I think of that!!??!! (Oh, yeah, cos I know nothing about wine. Nevermind). I think the rules of a regular feature are:

1) one of the words has to be a day of the week
2) it has to be alliterative
3) there are no other rules.

I decided thursday was going to be my day, and that it was going to be something positive because I already do more than enough whining. I'm probably retrospectively crediting this thought process with more logic than it really had, since it falls into my huge group of 'things I decided while on the bus'. But after briefly considering (and VERY quickly rejecting) 'thankful thursday' - that would have got pretty ugly pretty fast - I decided on ThingsThatRock Thursday. (Like I said, I was on the bus. This was as good as it was going to get).

Of course, I've hit the small snag that it is not actually thursday today. And while there is such a thing as a time difference between here and most other parts of the world, I don't think anybody is going to believe it is still thursday here. Reason is - I did plan to post this yesterday, and got halfway through writing stuff on Wedndesday, but was then out cold with the lurgy yesterday and unable to raise my poor head from my pillow of suffering, so... here it is today instead. I'm sure my legions of fans will cope.

No prizes for guessing what the first thing that rocks is. I could never start a series like this with anything other than my cat. [Just had a thought - should it maybe be my husband? Or my church? Nah, gotta be honest - it's the cat]. I had wanted a cat for ages, but resigned myself to never having one as J wasn't all that keen. But this year, for my birthday, he said 'it's time to get a cat - I'm doing this for your mental health because I think it will be cheaper than therapy'. Yay! We agreed we wanted to get a cat rather than a kitten, to avoid the 'cute kitten becomes totally mental cat' pitfall, and after a few twists and turns (which would be a post all in themselves) we met this beauty. Here is his referral picture:

Because we got him at EXACTLY the same time as we were formally initiating the adoption process (the night before our first 'counselling' interview) , we keep seeing parallels between bringing him home and the journey we hope to make with hypothetical future baby. (A few times I've had to remind J not to refer to the cat's former home as 'the orphanage' in public). He was nearly three when we brought him home. I've only ever had kittens before this and it made such a difference that he was older. I think, as we prepare to adopt, it was genuinely useful to see how scared he was, and how much time he took to trust us (this doesn't seem to apply to kittens as they are only interested in playing and don't really mind who does that). My heart was full to bursting with love for him but that just didn't matter - he couldn't communicate with me and didn't know he could trust me and why should he want to sit on my lap straight away? (He's still only done that once). Occasionally, when he does something particularly unfathomable, J and I look at each other with worried faces and ask 'do you think he would have done that if he was our birth cat?' but mostly, it's been great watching him settle in and go from 'fraidy cat to king of the house.

Fraidy Cat, too scared to leave the box he was brought home in (he stayed in here for DAYS. Do. Not. Ask. about the toileting situation).

King of the House, not moving off the comfy rug for anyone

His proper name is Kevin, but I nearly always call him Kitten. This is pretty stupid because a) it's about as specific as calling me 'human' and b) he's a great chunky beastie, and definitely NOT a kitten.He a cream colourpoint British Shorthair, so as well as fabulously fluffy cheeks, he has blue eyes and really unusual pale apricot colours coming through his fur. He looks like the kind of cat I imagine would be purchased by a Russian oligarch.

He's unbelieveably vain. He loves to stare at himself in the mirror and languidly lick himself. I honestly cannot blame him for this - if I was that good looking I'd probably do the same.

He is a retired stud cat. Sometimes we tease him about this. He pretends not to care.

He's astonishingly intelligent:
Most of the time.....

He has a range of special songs, made up just for him, ranging from the jaunty 'you've already had your breakfast, kitten' to the mellower 'bedtime for kittens' and 'kitten so fine'.

There are no pictures of me singing to him.

His tail makes an awesome bookmark:

As well as 'kitten', his other nickname is 'ferenje cat' (for obvious reasons).

Sometimes I worry that I won't love our baby as much as I love this furball. Then I realise that if that is my biggest worry at the moment, I'm pretty lucky.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

So I finally did something sensible

Last night, when we went around to our friends' place to babysit, I finally got over myself enough to say 'hey, do you mind if I try putting that nappy on her?' I figured it would be the best chance I'd get - baby had just come from the bath, so it was clean child, clean nappy - a rare combination. It was fine, of course, and now I can say I've done it so that's all good. Afterwards, J said 'I'm so proud of you for doing that' and i gave him the furrowed forehead, diagonal eyebrows look to say 'watch yourself, smart guy' and asked why, exactly, he was proud of me for doing such a simple thing. He quickly realised he was skating on thin ice and said 'no, no! I meant I was proud of you for ASKING to do it - I'm sure that wasn't easy'. So I said thanks, and then we hugged - it was a beautiful moment.

No more SW appointments for a week. Hurrah! I know that next time, we're going to explore discipline (now rebranded as 'parenting capacity', apparently). We plan on saying that children flourish best when allowed to explore their own potential, emotions and environment without hindrance from adults. Errr... okay, maybe not. Actually we mostly plan on just saying 'firm consistent loving boundaries' a lot, and hope to get away with that. But it made me wonder - if anyone has good books to recommend on this kind of topic, especially (but not necessarily exclusively) regarding adopted kids, I'd be glad to hear of them!