A New Housemate

We have a new addition to our untidy and unruly family. We have been considering this for almost two years and finally a few weeks ago, we took the plunge.

She was more expensive than others like her in the shop, but definitely quieter, and better behaved than the rest of them. She is quite self-sufficient and needs minimum looking after. She needs no feeding or walks in the park. She’s not very cuddly but we knew that when we first saw her. My youngest child was so excited to see this new housemate that he followed her all around the house for the first few days. He picked her up and gently set her down in the correct direction when she seemed lost. Now we have all got used to her peculiar ways.

Occasionally she does try to chew carpet corners, play with shoe laces and tangle wires near my desk or the TV. She also loves to disappear under beds and other furniture. Last Tuesday, she set off our burglar alarm by going into a restricted zone.  The security company rang me to say there was a breach. I raced home from work to find her sitting calmly in an unexpected spot and blinking at me. It was really my fault, I had not set up the correct barriers for the burglar alarm. That incident was an exception.

She’s usually very good, does exactly as she is told and even puts herself to bed in the designated spot when she runs out of energy. She’s only been with us for a few weeks but we all love her so much. She’s gray and black with green eyes that change colour when she gets tired.


Her name is Rosie. She is our robotic vacuum cleaner.




The Surprise

It had been a long business trip but my last meeting got cancelled. I could now go home, a whole day earlier and surprise my family. Sweet! Two weeks ago, I had left my husband in charge of school lunches and everything else, by now the children had school holidays.

It was almost dark when the taxi from the airport got me home. My husband’s car was missing and there were no lights in the house. Maybe they’ve gone out to dinner, I thought.

I let myself in and wheeled the suitcase into our bedroom.  I found myself some leftovers for dinner. I flicked TV channels, expecting any minute, the chaotic whirlwind that only teenagers can bring to a room. But none of that happened even as I took myself to bed. I left some lights in the dining room for them.

I woke up sometime in the night, it was very quiet. I touched the pillow beside me – still empty. Outside, the wind was howling and I could hear thunder and see flashes of lightning on the outlines of the curtained windows.  I tried to see the time but my phone was out of juice. I had forgotten to charge it once I got home. I tried to go back to sleep but I heard a couple of thumps. I tugged the curtain to look outside. It was really dark. As I dropped the curtain, I caught a movement in a flash of lightning.  I peered out but all I could see was a dark shape, slowing moving towards me. I looked from the edge of the curtain again. It was definitely a shape, square and about the height of a man’s torso, a tall man. Yes, yes definitely, there it was again. It looked like the sharp edge of a jacket sleeve. Was I imagining this?  I reached for the phone then remembered it had no charge.  I slipped into bed and decided to be quiet.  I could hear no footsteps outside. Suddenly I heard voices. Two male, American voices. American burglars, here in Australia? I slipped further under the covers. How late was it? Why was no one home yet? And more pressing, these burglars outside!

I decided to creep into the hallway. We still had our old landline phone there.  I tiptoed out of our room. As I walked past the children’s bathroom, I saw a long shape outside, hitting the window handle. I dropped to the ground and crawled along. As I went past my son’s room there was a loud thud near me and I touched a soft cloth bulge. I nearly screamed before I realised it was just a sleeping bag that had rolled out of the cupboard. Maybe these three had gone camping since I wasn’t expected back until Saturday night.  The rain was coming down hard now, like little bullets hitting the roof. No one would even hear me scream. As I turned to creep back to bed, the lights I had left on in the dining room suddenly went out. I almost ran back to my room and hid under the bed covers again.  Terrified, curled into a ball, I must have fallen asleep.

The next time I woke up, I was relieved to see it was morning. The sun was shining bright and the magpies were making a racket in the garden. My investigation revealed that the ‘man’ in the garden was my husband’s jacket on the washing line and the tapping at the bathroom window was a displaced branch from the storm.  Inside, the TV was on, recording old American Westerns.

Still no one else home, so after breakfast I decided to pamper myself. I put on a lavender face treatment; gently smoothing the thick, lilac-coloured paste all over my face except my eyes and lips. While I waited for it to dry, I fell asleep on the couch reading my book. Such luxury on a Saturday morning! Finally, I heard the car come in. Excited to see my family after two weeks, I rushed to open the front door, only to send my son screaming down the drive.

I hope it was the face treatment.




Green fingers

I don’t have green fingers. I cannot grow anything in the garden. I have tried looking after plants that are already grown and flowering and have managed to kill them all with my love and attention. Even the four-foot tall lemon tree that was thriving when we moved to this house, now looks like it’s been in the wars.

So I was thrilled to see some new shoots in one of our many, non-happening flower beds. I called them my serendipity plants. I watered the green shoots with much care. I made sure that the soil around these tender shoots was moist and dark. I carefully mixed some fertiliser with soil and then added it, after watching the YouTube tutorial several times. I put slug and snail pellets around the area. I raced out to put an old umbrella over the plants so they wouldn’t get washed away in the winter downpour.

I went to check on the plants every morning with equal amounts of love and fear. I fully expected these green stems to have perished in the night but they were still there and a week later, a couple more were coming up. Soon, they had very tiny, tight pods that could only be buds. My excitement was palpable. I was like a child. I checked on my ‘serendipity plants’ 2-3 times a day. I expected them to disappear or wilt. Maybe they would be gone one morning and there would be a note that said ‘Gotcha!’

But none of these things happened and my plants began to gently open their plump green buds, there were tightly wound yellow petals inside. As they opened, it was amazing to see tiny white petals at the very centre of the flowers. I was so amazed at my accomplishment that I was lost for words. I couldn’t wait to show these flowers to my best friend who is an excellent gardener. She always says I could kill plants with just a kind look.

I invited her over and stood by my plants like a proud parent. The minute she got out of her car, she shouted excitedly, pointing at my serendipity plants, “Hah! You’ve got them too! These damned weeds that won’t be killed by anything! The gardeners’ forum discusses them all the time.”


Why I Decided To Quit My Job

  1. No one believed that I could have a busy weekday. People always asked, “Why? What are you doing?”
  1. No one believed that I didn’t like cooking and had to justify every takeaway meal
  1. They wondered why I did my grocery shopping at the weekend
  1. They were taken aback if I ever refused to babysit in the day
  1. I was expected to deliver forgotten lunches, homework and music instruments to school without fail
  1. They looked at me in complete astonishment when I opted to pay the $20 for school fundraising rather than bake cupcakes and help sell them
  1. They were shocked if I made intelligent conversation
  1. My home was expected to look immaculate at all times unless I was very ill or dead
  1. Everyone told me how lucky I was not to have a job, when I already worked for 3 people (1 frequently travelling husband + 2 offspring) who had a collective entourage of one – ME!
  1. I was always expected to be the last priority and the first volunteer for everything.


Living up to these expectations was just too hard. So I quit my job as housewife.




Stacking The Shelves

I’ve had a bad cold and ended up ordering my weekly groceries online. They were delivered to my kitchen counter, a couple of days ago and I had to rely on my ten-year-old son to put them all away.  I was ready to find a few things out of place but nothing had prepared me for the chaos in my house.

Today is the first day that I felt much better. This morning, I ventured into the kitchen but couldn’t even find bread or breakfast cereal in its usual spot! So I gave up and ate a muesli bar instead.

The vegetable drawer in the fridge had shampoo, face wash, body wash and a few fruits and vegetables. The flower vase had a slender bottle of concentrated fabric softener in it. Furniture polish and dishwashing liquid jostled together in the fruit bowl along with a bottle of raspberry cordial. The microwaveable wheat heat pack was in the kitchen cupboard next to a bag of flour. I found some fresh green and red capsicum and a little bundle of lemongrass in the medicine cabinet, nestled amongst the chili plasters next to the insect repellent spray. My expensive toothpaste was on the shelf with baking ingredients.

When I was looking for something else, I eventually found the errant breakfast cereal and loaves of bread alongside packets for the bird feeder. When I quizzed my son about these strange storage places he calmly said, “Mum! I asked ….  and you said ‘Just read the packaging and think where they should be stored. Common sense!’ So I did …

That breakfast cereal looked like birdseed, the bread loaf said nuts, seeds, grains on it.

The capsicums went in with the chili plasters in the medicine cabinet.

There is avocado in the facewash, cucumber in the body wash, green apples in the shampoo so they all went in the fridge.

The toothpaste said ‘Baking Soda’ in large letters.

The fabric softener said ‘Lily of the valley’ …..”


I panicked, “Where on earth, are the two whole chickens I ordered for Sunday’s family lunch?”

Silently, he lifted his eyebrows and rolled his eyes in the direction of the backyard.





We were so excited when we were told! We had waited and always hoped for this. Our closest encounter so far had been with my nephew and we had loved every moment of it. We had watched other proud parents and now it was our turn. Everyone said to us that it was wonderful but to have no illusions, it was expensive. And what a great opportunity and how it would be an education in itself for us.

We went to a lecture about essential nutrition and enough sleep. They talked of endless re-heating of meals, the importance of water and nutritious foods that should be eaten. Our role as parents, and how we could best support the growth and development. They talked of time commitment, endless late nights, early mornings and non-existent weekends. There was also a short section about what to do if things went wrong and how to deal with disappointment.

We were shown a video about how to wash the clothes with care to keep them clean, soft and comfortable. We looked at the pictures we were shown, pristine whites and multicoloured apparel- delicate and fine, woven in special material for comfort, absorbency and stretch.

The event was several months away but we began to shop straightaway for all the right things; clothes on the list, ankle socks, soft shoes, bottles, grips, supports and all the accessories, a backpack to hold everything. Warm pants and zipper jackets for cooler weather, we even found a matching beanie. I couldn’t wait for D-day!

All because our six-year-old had just been selected to compete in Level 1 gymnastics.




Dedicated to all the parents who do countless drop-offs and pickups, wash leotards, maintain pristine long whites, hunt down errant white socks and keep the tracksuits and backpacks safe and clean until the next competition.

Parents of girl gymnasts need an even greater salute for the additional burden of hair, makeup and keeping those diamantes and sequins sewn and sparkling.