Two in There!

the porcelain express
September 18, 2009, 9:12 am
Filed under: misc, parenting


One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, old fish, new fish, dead fish. Crap.

Oh, Marlin, why must you complicate things so? I’m so not ready to explain the intricacies of life and death to my two-year-old. One of all parenting literature’s major failings is a simple ‘line’ I can feed an inquisitive toddler with regards to what happens to beloved pets when they decide to make an early exit. This is the second time now I’ll have had to deal with a dead fish, and last time we handled it, well, rather badly.

We’re fortunate enough to have a lovely pond in our garden; a thriving ecosystem, and a veritable hub of  hippity-hoppity thingummies. Absolutely brimming with tadpoles, newts, frogs, fish and other mystery beasts Dave claims to have seen (from the descriptions we appear to have some sort of miniature ‘nessie’).  It’s been a hugely fun and dare I say educational thing for Heidi to enjoy on a daily basis, and absolutely key to my love for it, is that through the miracles of biology, it’s self-sustaining. I have to do absolutely nothing to keep it going, and if some tiny creature pops it’s clogs, the pond takes care of it.

“Mummy, why is that fishy not swimming?”

“What fishy, darling?”

“That one, he’s not moving anymore.”

I eye the sorry titian blob floating, unresponsive, among a clump of pondweed. What do I say?

“Oh, he’s just having a rest sweetheart, he’s been swimming so much he just needs to have a wee sleep.”

She accepts this, and I am satisfied my quick and dirty lie has quelled any further difficult questions. Rod for own back.  Over the course of the following week, sticking to my own mantra of “the pond will take care of it”, though not speedy enough for my liking, we greet the sleepy fish on our visits to the pond, I, swift to find something far more exciting to distract Heidi’s attention, as our floating friend grows ever more translucent due to the ravenous tadpoles feeding on his belly scales. Nature is grim.  I ask Dave to fish it out, but life gets in the way and it fails to happen promptly. It takes a visitor to the house to point out the dead fish, within earshot of H who, with a face like thunder, walks in to tell me that her fish is “not alive anymore”. Great. I try to explain that it just got a bit sick and so it had died. This of course opened huge can of worms for all ensuing ails, fishy, or not.

Fast forward a few months, and Heidi has been the proud recipient of a 17 litre mermaid fish tank from her Gran, so we can get her first pet. Dave rolls his eyes, and states from the outset, “she can have a fish, but I’m not responsible for it’s life.” The accountability is on me, but I don’t really mind, getting a pet is exciting! I imagined letting H pick out her very own fish, and foresaw it entertaining her for a short period of time, always good in my books.

The acquisition of the pet fish was a rather different reality. When I was a girl you could win one at a fair; fish activists have long since put a stop to such cruelty. Fish have rights, and I’m all for it. Though, I’ll be the first to admit that as a heavily pregnant mother, my attitude towards such things have softened from my dreadlock-sporting, sandal-wearing vegan days. I’m still a strict veggie, but I no longer harbour the desire, or angsty-vegan tendency to tell the staff at pets-at-home that they’re running an operation in animal brutality. I’m not advocating a return to the disposable nature of  fairground prize, but I didn’t envisage that I’d need an enhanced disclosure to buy some fish. After a grand inquisition from a rather accusatory member of staff, a form and a signature(!), we were finally allowed some fish. Two fantails, and we didn’t even get to pick them. Still, we had our pets and we could get out of there and enjoy them. We went through all the rigmarole of floating the bags, introducing the tank water, and eventually fishing them out into our water, careful not to mix any of theirs with ours. Everything by the book? Tick.

One week on, as I made a cup of tea last night, I glanced across the dining room  to do my usual visual register; orange blob? Check. Spotty orange blob? Ummm. Dory is present, but I see no sign of Marlin. This merits closer inspection, I get down on my hands and knees (not an easy task!) and my suspicions are confirmed. Marlin appears to be stuck on the mermaid’s hand, but his fins aren’t moving and his eyes look like two tiny, unglazed raisins. I give the statue a poke, dislodging him, and accidentally sending him into the current of the pump, which pulls the poor creature, undignified, around and around the tank. He’s no longer brilliant orange, he’s pasty, beige, looking more like a limp nude pop-sock caught in a spin cycle. Even sadder, I think this may very well be his crowning moment, given we barely had him 7 days.  I look around for a net, unable to find one, I fetch the ironing jug and fish the sorry lump out of the tank, and hitch him a ride on the porcelain express. I hope he doesn’t block the drains….

So, this morning, I will partake in the ultimate in mild parenting deception, and do the old fishity switcheroo. I’m in search of one mottled fantail to complete duo, before Heidi notices anything amiss.

Must say I’m dreading facing the people at pets-at-home, fearing I may be black-listed as a fish killer and sent on my way, while they hastily make up posters with my likeness and distribute them to all aquarium retailers in the Lothians. Maybe a wee stop by the joke shop for some dark glasses and a fake moustache first…


on becoming an aunt
September 14, 2009, 3:29 pm
Filed under: babies, parenting, pregnancy


12 weeks ago I became an Auntie for the very first time, to a beautiful little girl, Olivia Grace. I’d long been looking forward to her arrival, being absolutely overjoyed when my sister-in-law announced she was expecting last December, but I never could have anticipated how special it would be to finally have her here.  As the oldest of three girls, and the first to have children, I had yet to experience what it was like assume the role of doting aunt, where as my two sisters and Dave’s sister have had 2 and a half  years of it with my own daughter.  Seeing how much they truly love Heidi, and how happy they make her, I just couldn’t wait to say hello to my niece. I felt compelled to get the knitting needles out, the way I have with my own babies, and took great pleasure in making beautiful things for her! Auntie Siobhan; makes me so proud to be called that. I have to say, it’s just absolutely wonderful beyond words. (and, it has been a brilliant excuse to get camera-happy as you can see!)

Who would have thought it possible to instantly love a baby so much that isn’t your own? The first time we went to see her at the hospital, I was just overcome with how much I felt for her. Doubly special was seeing how much my own little one loves her new cousin. I’m so excited about being a part of her life, and of course, having another little girl to spoil! I hope that I can be there to share in all of her milestones, and be there for her whenever she needs a hug or eventually, a shoulder to cry on.

I’m very fortunate to have a large, close-knit family, and the bond I have with my Aunts and Uncles is particularly strong; becoming an Auntie myself has pushed me to reflect on my own relationships with them.  Even now as a grown woman, with children of my own, I still care deeply about them, and and so grateful for everything they’ve given me over the course of my life so far. It’s a special kind of love that I hope one day Olivia will have for me, David and her cousins, and that she’ll enjoy spending time with us as much as we will with her.

Particularly lovely has been the opportunity to really bond with my sister-in-law. I’ve always gotten on famously with Karen, though there’s something unspeakable that connects two women as mothers. It’s been brilliant to share our pregnancy woes, and to be asked advice and to feel like I can actually be of use! I’m amazed at how quickly and effortlessly she has slipped into motherhood, and all of it’s trials so far (12 weeks with a colicky baby!) and seeing how proud she’s made her own parents. It’s lovely watching her with Olivia, and knowing how much she adores Heidi,  I’m so happy that she’s now a mummy herself, and can lavish all that love and attention on her gorgeous little girl.

She’s just absolutely cute as a button, and we all love her to pieces. There.

I think that’s all the gooey-hormonal pregnant lady chat anyone needs to hear today!

will you dress them alike?
September 8, 2009, 8:32 pm
Filed under: babies, parenting, pregnancy, twins


I’m surprised at how often I’ve been asked this question considering these two are still tucked up and cooking nicely. In all honesty, I can say that it’s something that I hadn’t given much thought to until other people started bringing it up. Convinced that I’d be having at least one more girl (until I found out at 22 weeks that there were two sets of boys bits in there),  all I’d really thought of in that regard was , “oh I’ll get to use all those lovely things I’d kept of Heidi’s”. Additionally, when I found out I was having boys, funnily enough, what to dress them in just didn’t really factor into my thoughts. Probably why I didn’t start buying things until about 26 weeks this time. The urge to buy dozens of little corduroy dresses, with rainbow coloured woolen tights and matching crochet beanies, was entirely absent. Beautiful clothing had always seemed an entirely feminine indulgence to me.

To answer my intial question, after much pondering on the matter; no, I don’t think I will. Yes, I’m having same-sex twins, but does that mean I should indulge the stereotypes we’ve all come to expect? Before I was a multiple-mum-to-be, I found the idea of twins in matching outfits ‘cute’ and even ‘adorable’, though now it just saddens me to think that it’s almost expected. I can understand the odd outfit, worn to please well-meaning grandparents etc, but to consciously make the effort to have them the same, seems just bizarre, not to mention a lot of unecessary time and effort!

Add to this the idea of fostering individuality, and the idea computes even less. I’m having twins, but more often than not as well as rejoicing in the uniqueness of having multiples, I look forward to getting to know my two sons, and get quite excited over what the future will hold for both of them. It may sound unbelievable to others, but they already have very different personalities, so to try and ‘lump’ them together for cuteness’ sake seems, well, just plain daft, really.

We’re already having the “oh my god, how on earth will we tell them apart panic?” and it would be mad to add to that anxiety, having already discussed various indentification methodologies (keeping on hospital bands, painting a toenail on each twin a different colour, Dave has even suggested branding, but I fear that taking things too far).

I guess that I hope by dressing them in their own outfits, that I might be setting the ball rolling for other people to appreciate their individuality. I hope that they get to enjoy opening their own birthday and christmas cards, that they recieve their own presents and that they’re valued for who each of them are, rather than just being ‘the twins’. While it’s going to be wonderful for them to enjoy being part of a unique group of people, brought into the world as multiples, I don’t want to hinder their personal growth in anyway by restricting them to that label.