Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dirty Laundry

Just a little bit of cute before the new year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Exhibit A, Exhibit B

This picture pretty much sums up all the problems in my life right now.

Scenes From Christmas

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Melt Down

Strangely enough, two years ago, on this day, I shouted at a teenage girl who ran up to me with a charity tin, squealing, “Give us money!”

Me: If you rattle that tin in my face again, you little slag, I swear to god I’ll smack you.

I don’t know what it is about December 20th, but it’s a day that tends to make me lose my grip a bit. Today, my tenuous grip on sanity was shaken further by a 9 month old who’s teething and fighting a cold at the same time. Everything I tried to do this morning was rebuffed with a barrage of what I can only imagine was baby cursing, so much so that I was tempted to wash her mouth out with soap. (I DON’T MAKE MY BABY EAT SOAP. No calls to child services, please.) Putting pants on became akin to being jabbed by sharp objects. Putting a coat on was obviously a fate worse than death. Being put on trial for war crimes at The Hague was infinitely preferable to being strapped into a car seat. And going round the shops? Don’t even ask.

The last few weeks have been something of a struggle. The Prawn, for lack of a better word, has been behaving like a jerk. I know it's because of the new teeth that are forcing their way through her gums as well as the lurghy that has taken up residence in her respiratory system. It seems terribly unfair that babies can't behave as WE do when we get sick- simply take to their beds and wake up only occasionally for sustenance. But no, they are afflicted with the jerk reflex which causes them to behave as if they have spent most of their short lives with a pack of wolverines. Not only that, but they infect US as well and through our own sickness, we are expected to be patient and understanding of their antics all while battling sleep deprivation, a sore throat and migraine.

I hate myself for sometimes wishing that she'd just disappear for a few hours or having to leave her in her crib, screaming so that I can do some screaming of my own into a convenient pillow. No mother should feel that way about her kid, I think, but I'm pretty sure that just about every one does at one point or another.

Motherhood is all about the guilt. Asking Santa for a happy baby for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The Prawn is just on the brink of sentience. Although she discovered vanity some time ago, (she gets unnaturally excited about her own reflection in the mirror. I sense a world of teenage image dramas in my future) she is just learning that there are many things in the world with which to interact and eat. So, obviously, this means it’s time for toys.

The Prawn’s favourite toys are as follows:

-Any laptop within reach.

-Any mobile phone within reach.

-Any electrical cord within reach.

-Any remote control in reach. (which usually results in us having to watch the shopping channel with subtitles that we can’t figure out how to turn off.)

-The strings on the hood of Daddy’s sweatshirt.

-Daddy’s guitars.

-The recycling.

-Crap she finds on the floor, no matter how well we’ve hoovered it.

If someone had told me that babies were the same at cats, (wanting to play with anything but the stuff you buy them) then we probably could have saved a lot of cash.

There are a few playthings, however, we’ve bought her that can hold her attention for more than 5 minutes.

Mozart Magic Cube, by Munchkin. A gift from my parents. This thing is pretty bitching, actually, despite our feelings about toys that require batteries. It has 8 works by the master of babysmarts himself programmed in and a choice of 5 instruments-harp, French horn, piano, flute, and violin- that are available on each side of the cube for individual or orchestral listening. Each side flashes to the beat of it’s instrument so it makes for a cool visual experience as well as audio. The Prawn digs kicking it around the room, turning on and off instruments. It’s the toy that is inevitably kicked by one of us while we’re trying to get the Prawn to sleep, setting off a cacophonic version of "Là Ci Darem la Mano" and triggering a desperate attempt to find which edge of the cube boasts the “off” switch.

Wooden Shape Sorter, by Mothercare. Mothercare has a small, but fairly decent range of own-brand infant toys that do not squeak, squawk, chatter or play stadium volume music. The Prawn just doesn’t need that shit. (Translation: we don’t need that shit) While visiting my folks, they dragged out and sterilized all of my baby toys and out of all of them, the Prawn tended to gravitate toward the shape sorter more than any other. (Save for the xylophone, but that’s only because it had a stick attached to it that was clearly perfect for poking an eye out with) Upon our return, I managed to find one that didn’t holler “GOOD JOB!” upon putting the shape in the correct slot to bring home for her. She’s spent a lot of time chewing on the pieces and banging the sorter itself on the floor, no doubt endearing herself further with our downstairs neighbours.

Black Labrador puppet, by Folkmanis. This is the first thing that she’s chosen herself. There’s a lovely children’s toyshop in the trendy downtown area where my parents live that sells imported wooden toys, fun games and other unique stuff. We held a number of things out for her to look at that were met with the withering indifference that only an 8 month old can muster. However, when we held out the Labrador puppet, she reached her arms up for it. Little surprise, as she is fascinated with The Rock Star’s family dog, Dougal, who is also a black Lab. So, we bought Mini Dougal home where she has proceeded to lie on him and bury her little face into his fur, giving her an outlet for her love of the real thing which would most likely be very dangerous as Dougal is a total nutter.

I think probably many people go slightly mad their child’s first Christmas, but I’m saving the bulk of my crazy for her first fully sentient holiday. She’ll be getting a tambourine from Santa this year and that’s about it.

Considering that everything she REALLY wants to play with is ours anyhow, perhaps I should just wrap up my car keys for a bit of extra magic.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Christmas Story

It’s taken me almost a week to get my ass back into gear, but considering that I’ve been living with a jetlagged 8 month old for the last few days, I’m surprised I’m still standing.

So, it’s that time of year again. This Christmas is particularly exciting as I will have the opportunity, to actually, you know, decorate. While living on a boat has it’s advantages, especially if you like ducks, fish and manual toilet emptying, a rather large disadvantage is not having the space to swing a cat, let alone put up a Christmas tree. Mr. DD and I always tried to make do with a tiny plastic tree which was never large enough to accommodate our already vast collection of ornaments. (When we were married, my mother threw an “ornament” shower for us, so we’re all good on the hanging stuff front).

This year, while we finally have the space, we also have someone living with us who will want to get physically, spiritually and orally acquainted with said Christmas tree, so it’s going to be a little bit of a challenge to decorate like I’ve always wanted and still make sure that there is only a wisp of a chance that the Prawn will decide that Christmas lights are tasty and nutritious.

My father once wisely said that Christmas is a holiday that’s always tinged with melancholy due to the fact that it cannot be celebrated one Christmas at a time; every Christmas is a reminder of all the Christmases that have gone before.

I suppose I was around 15 or 16 when I had a sudden and unsettling realization that Christmas was never going to have the same kind of magic that it had for me as a child and it made me terribly sad for a number of holiday seasons. I’m not sure I even knew how to articulate how I was feeling, but I just knew that it “wasn’t like before.”

On my first Christmas home from college, we travelled up to Pennsylvania for the annual family Christmas get togethers. The Christmas Eve celebration (typically my favourite part of the whole holiday) was held at the house of my mother’s cousin, as it had been for years. (She’d taken over the party from HER mother, my grandmother’s sister) It was actually snowing, making the woods where her house was achingly picturesque. I’d left something in the car, so I’d crunched back down the driveway to get it. On the way back, my foot shot out from under me and I ended up flat on my back in the driveway. As I lay there, looking up at the falling snow and hoping that I wasn’t suffering from a concussion, I suddenly hear the faint sound of a choir in the valley below singing “Silent Night.”

It was a strange and happy epiphany I had at that moment; I suddenly made peace with sense of loss from Christmases past and knew that although that feeling of wonder that I’d experienced as a child was gone, it would be replaced with a warm, more familial feeling as I grew older. I’d look forward to it for different reasons. I’d celebrate it in different ways. The melacholy that had afflicted me for years evaporated, leaving behind the knowledge that it would leave behind only a happy, nostalgic ache, once every 25th of December.

So, lying in the driveway, snow slowing soaking through the back of my coat, I smiled.

This year, I've found that some of that sense of wonder has returned. It's my job to make Christmas happen for my daughter. (Even though this year, she will be more interested in eating Christmas than experiencing it.) All of the beautiful things that I remember from my childhood can come to life again for her, as well as new things that Mr. DD and I will create for ourselves.

I can't tell you how excited I am about that.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Not Enlightened

Should my daughter ever choose a spiritual path, I'll give you two guesses as to which way she probably WON'T be going.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cute Update

Just a quick update from this side of the pond; Thanksgiving was lovely and full of opportunities for the Prawn to interact with cousins various. The other bit of cute in this picture is The Tadpole, one of our goddaughters. Matching outfits courtesy of The Tadpole's parents. (The Prawn's godparents)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Taking Flight

So, we're off. Wish us luck.

The doctor issued us a prescription for Piraton, which I believe is an anti-histimine, to give to her in a VERY small dose after watching the Prawn attempting to fling herself from my grasp in his office. I'm not keen on giving it to her, but after a serious attack of cranky this afternoon, I'm not sure what I'll do on a 777 if she chooses to do it again. (Look for an escape hatch of some sort, I imagine.)

At any rate, we're off to the New World!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Cranky

Okay, so remember when I said about 3 or 4 months ago that that the Prawn's teeth were coming in? Well, I was pretty wrong at that point. I was hoping to attribute her cranky behavior to teeth coming in because I didn't want to believe she was just behaving like that for the hell of it. However, now the teeth really ARE coming in and it's time for me once again face the fact that there are occasions that, while I love her, sometimes I don't like her very much.

There are moments when she is almost unbearably sweet. Peekaboo is her favorite game of late and it's amazing to listen to her laugh with delight. She's also recently gotten the hang of waving. And sticking out her tongue. All very cute and lovely and I adore her. But then we try to put her to bed.

Up until now, sleeping hasn't really been so much of a problem. She'd drift off quickly after being deposited in her cot. But now it's all about the screaming.

My theory is that it's all part of the new clinginess that also involves screaming when one of us walks out of the room for a minute, even if we're not out of eyeshot. She's not been a fretful or nervous baby by any means up until now, so these new screaming fits at bedtime are a bit of a new thing for us.

We are definitely of the Controlled Crying school. There is no way that we want this behavior to continue and DEFINITELY not to extend into the middle of the night, like it did last night. (I've got bags 2 miles long under my eyes) We leave her to it for 5 minutes before going back in to re-insert the dummy, kiss her and walk back out again. We leave it slightly longer the next time. Luckily, she's never really gone beyond crying for 2o minutes. Yes, I know that we are lucky.

The reason it is easier to use the Controlled Crying method is that she's developed a new cry which sounds exactly like a pouty child throwing a tantrum. This is the bedtime cry. No real tears, just forced crying. It's funny, but it's kind of been the first warning that cognisance is on it's way- she's already learning how to play the system. "I shout, Mummy and Daddy come back and then I can stare at them innocently while chucking my dummy down the inaccessible side of the cot and bashing the bars with my feet."

At any rate, times they are a-changin. In a week's time, we will be across the Atlantic, visiting my parents in Maryland. Before we get there, however, we have to get on a plane for 7 hours and while checking her into the hold seems an attractive option, it's not strictly legal, so we went ahead and bought her a seat. Am I going to be a holistic Mummy and try to keep my child entertained for the best part of a day in a confined space, or am I going to put Medised into her bottle, have a glass of red wine and fall asleep?

Take a guess.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Reasons Why The Prawn Should Be Watched At All Times

Everyone told me that this would happen someday. I laughed, thinking that neither I or Mr. DD would ever be silly enough to let it happen, but happen it did.

The Prawn has eaten poo.

I am pleased to say that I was not at home when this rather disgusting snack occurred. I was, however, in touch with Mr. DD on MSN. Suddenly a message pops up.


Me: What?


Me: What??


Me: WHAT??????

Mr. DD: The Prawn just ate her own poo.

Me: WTF?!! How did that happen???

Mr. DD: I changed her and SERIOUSLY, I turned my back for a second and when I turned around, she's all face down in the nappy going NOM NOM NOM.

Me: ........

Mr. DD: Seriously, I thought I was gonna barf.

Me: YOU were going to barf? What about HER???

Mr. DD: I cleaned her up. She's happy as larry.

Me: OMG, that is so heinous.

Mr. DD: I know.

Me: Can you give her a breath mint or something before I come home?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Daylight Stupid Time

To be honest, I've never really given Daylight Savings Time much thought. It's just always been, "Oh better change the clock so I don't end up looking like a big dork showing up early or late for work."

But you know what? Fuck Daylight Savings Time. Fuck it right in the ear. Has Daylight Savings Time ever had a cranky Prawn start shouting at it at 5 instead of 6 in the morning? NO IT HAS NOT. (To be fair, it is Mr. DD who gets out of bed in the morning to deal with the Prawn, but I know he's not loving it either.)

So now it's a question of how we can wrestle her back into a sleep pattern for civilized people. My best guess is that this will involve rather a lot of shouting from a 7 1/2 month old who's wondering why the hell she's still not in bed at 9 pm even though she is being repeated run over by the Sleep Truck. The Sleep Truck is more appropriate for the Prawn than the Sandman as she'll be all, "AAAAAaaaaa, NANG NANG NANG, AAAaaa, NANGzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" rather than gently drifting off to sleep.


Friday, October 26, 2007

All the News That's Fit To Print

While I don't usually resort to "list" posts, I have to admit that life is getting in the way a little. So here's the latest from Prawn Central.

-Me and the Prawn popped over to our local Olan Mills studio yesterday to record, for posterity, the image of her in her Halloween costume, which will no doubt be dragged out someday at her wedding. Or her first date. Even the emo kid behind the camera (who no doubt, in his spare time, takes moody black and white shots of roadkill and develops them in his own darkroom while listening to The Cure) was amused by my little lobster. The Prawn, however, was not so much in a mood to pose in ways best befitting her costume. It is now all about the tummy for her (a complete 180 from her early babyhood) and to hell with this sitting shit. Emo boy managed to get a few good shots that I ordered 8x10's of and was told that I could pick them up in 28 days.

I'm not sure what parallel universe Olan Mills is operating in that it takes them 28 days to print a photo when I can print one in about 40 seconds.

-So, we've kind of stopped trying to dress the Prawn. At some point in the last few weeks, clothes have become poisionous and to be avoided at all costs by way of extreme body contortions and loud shouting. This goes for nappy changing as well. Handy, as colder weather is most definitely here. It's gotten to the point where I think, "Who is it really going to hurt if she goes out with most of a bowl of sweet potato and carrot down her front?"

-We now have two distinct sounds for pleasure/interest and displeasure/frustration. The happy noise is largely, "deeg, deeg deeg!" and the unhappy noise is mostly "NANG, NANG, NANG!" Strangely, my mother told me that she remembered NANG NANG NANG quite clearly, so perhaps it's a genetic thing.

-In preparation for her trip to a weekend with Mr. DD's hairy rocker buddies, we've purchased the ear protectors that you can see in the above picture. She looks tragically cute and doesn't seem to particularly mind them, which is a mercy, because last year, I came home from this gathering with ringing in my ears that persisted for nearly 2 days.

-Definitely starting to enjoy this whole motherhood gig more now that it's apparent that we have a sentient creature on our hands who has preferences (Mummy's homemade food over jars. Yay!) and moods. (Good or bad, mainly. And boy there's a big difference.) The days when I feel overwhelmed or upset are fewer and far between and most of the time I just can't believe my luck at having this happy, healthy little creature in my life.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall Shenanigans

Just a bit of Prawny goodness.

My father in law finally got rid of a car that has been sitting in his garage for almost 40 years. This was no small task as the thing weighs about a ton.

The Prawn and the lovely leaves that grow up my in-law's beautiful house.

Sunday morning in the Tree Cathedral.

Prawn and Daddy.

Prawn and Mummy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Twelve Bar Blues

Just a little movie of the Prawn rocking out to her Daddy's noise.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Toys From the Dark Side

It was inevitable, really.

While I’ve touched on my feelings about the state of children’s playthings today, it never really hit home until a truly diabolical toy reared its ugly head in our daughter’s toy chest.

Last week, I ordered a second high chair and playpen (aka Baby Jail) for use at Mr. DD's parent’s home from one of many fairly anonymous internet baby retail sites that litter the web that all operate under one principle; there’s good money to be made from people who have no idea what they’re doing. When these items arrived, it appeared that we’d picked up a stray from someone else’s order because along with the Baby Jail and the high chair, there also appeared an excersaucer. I had considered buying one of these things for the Prawn, but had always slightly feared the amount of space that one of these things would take up in our apartment which is already filled to bursting with baby gear.

I considered returning the item. Since my Father In Law had paid for the purchase, I wanted to be sure that his credit card hadn’t been charged for something we didn’t order in the first place. But once we discovered that it hadn’t, I was inclined to keep it. Otherwise, I just knew I was going to get stuck with a courier charge to send the damn thing back where it came from, so I sucked up my vague moral compunctions and brought the damn thing home where it started racking up points against it right from the getgo.

First of all, it is in the shape of a pink sports car which is so icky that I can’t even begin to describe it. But, noted my inner voice, you didn’t actually pay for this, so it’s probably slightly ungrateful to bitch that it makes your daughter look like a very small Malibu Barbie home for spring break. Fair enough, inner voice.

Secondly, I’m not 100% sure that it wasn’t put together by little slave children somewhere. But, piped up my inner voice again, you didn’t actually PAY for this, so none of your money has gone to factories in China and Taiwan that make 10 year olds sew soccer balls with their teeth. Good point, inner voice. No money of mine to the slave trade.

Thirdly, and this was the deal breaker….it makes noise. At this point, my inner voice had little to say other than, Will you shut that fucking thing up already?

Mr. DD and I made a pact early on in parenthood that we would avoid toys that made unnecessarily irritating electronic noises. In a world with Mozart and crickets, it is a wonder to me that grating midi music was ever invented. We had been to too many homes with a plethora of these obnoxious playthings and have always been determined never to let these instruments of Satan into the Prawn’s life. (Okay, I accidentally bought that set of stacking rings that not only make noise, but revolve as well, but thankfully, the music is of good quality and fairly innocuous.)

In this excersaucer’s case, it was the “dashboard” of the chav-tastic pink sports car that was the offender. Three benign looking buttons transformed our living room into a hellish reverberating chamber for the most nerve plucking midi horror at the most ridiculous volume that we could have imagined.

“Erm, why don’t you give that back to me a sec?” said Mr. DD, snatching the dashboard from under the gleeful hands of the Prawn and heading for the sideboard to find a screwdriver. I personally was all for smashing the offending piece of kit, but thankfully, Mr. DD has a basic knowledge of electronics and with a judicious wire yank, disabled the noise making device, leaving only the flashing lights and the rather more organic clicking sounds made by the “steering wheel” and the “gearshift”.

As I write the Prawn is enthusiastically gumming her new toy and smiling at me as if to say, “Don’t worry, Mummy. I won’t let the crass materialism that this pink sports wagon represents corrupt my malleable mind. Thanks to your wise instruction, I shall grow to be both virtuous and non-materialistic, dedicating my time to charity and my fellow man.”

She’s yanking your chain, says my inner voice.

I know, I reply.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mummy Group

So the Prawn and I have recently entered the tender realm of the Mummy Group.

Meeting a huge group of new people is always a bit daunting. The lure of the Mummy Group, of course, is that you all have one thing in common, so at the very least, even if you turn out to be chalk and cheese, you can always talk about, well, poop. There's always the danger of running into someone dangerously unstable or weirdly competitive in one of these estrogen fests, but so far, so good.

It's sort of that first day at a new school feeling for me everytime I go, although I've been attending for about 3 weeks now. Everyone there obviously knows eachother or is related to one another, so just plonking the Prawn down on the mats, taking a deep breath and making small talk is not the easiest thing in the world for me. The other mums aren't unfriendly or anything, but given a choice between talking to someone with a shared history (childbirth classes, family ties, etc) and me, I often end up sitting and smiling, twiddling my thumb while the Prawn bangs seven shades of merry hell out of a xylophone. My job is to make sure she doesn't get carried away and hit the 2 month old sitting next to her over the head.

It's good to go to these groups, however, if for nothing else, than for a bit of baby comparison. The group I frequent is for under 1's, so there's a fair amount of age range. There are a good few 1 and 3 month olds as well as a generous helping of 8 month olds, so the Prawn is pretty much the only one in her age range. However, I've come to think that perhaps she might be a little ahead of the growth curve since she is both taller (she's got a daddy who's 6'2") and heavier than several children who have just celebrated their 1st birthdays. A future career in the WNBA beckons.

Most of the women in the group seem nice and normal, although I have to admit to knowing none of their names, despite the fact that I have been introduced to some of them up to three times. Their babies, on the other hand, I know by heart. A lot of conversations are started with, "Hey...Adelia's mum? How did you and Alexander's mum meet? Did you go to the parenting classes with Kimberly's mum?" Ludicrous.

At and rate, I have been forced to confront the fact that I am, in fact, pretty shy. Although I was a theatre major in college and wanted to believe that I had an outgoing, performance personality, I think I knew deep down that rooms with loads of people I didn't know in them made me want to hide under the sofa. For anyone who's ever taken the Meyers/Briggs personality test (one that actually works, btw) I USED to be an ENFP, but having taken it fairly recently, have become an INFP. (the E for Extrovert and I for Introvert) Perhaps I've changed or perhaps I'm just a little more honest.

On other Prawn related matters, I've been doing some shopping. My favorite purchase thus far has been "M is for Metal" which is a Rock alphabet book that I ordered from Meg's neck of the woods. Due to the Post Office lunacy in our parts, I imagine this is stuck in a sorting office somewhere and I'm just about chewing my arm off to see it. I also just broke down and bought the Prawn a pair of rock and roll Robeez that will hopefully keep her from finding new and interesting ways out of her socks. In the summer, this obviously wasn't a problem, but in winter, I'd prefer to keep her feet covered if at all possible. She's only just discovered that she's capable of manipulating objects in her world fairly adeptly and uses her new found knowledge to make short work of footwear.

You heard it here, folks. All the news worth telling.

Friday, October 05, 2007


So, we're still chugging along here with teh solidz.

It's trial and error, really. When someone can't really tell you if they're enjoying something or not, you'll settle for them not spitting it out. We have tried, care of Mush, cucumber and avacado (a fairly enthusiastic reception) and chicken and vegetable soup with the addition of potatoes instead of pasta. (Mainly for Mr. DD's and my benefit as we had it for dinner as well. It enjoyed a mixed reception with the Prawn, who's still on the fence when it comes to meat.)

Although I taste the food I make her, not being hugely strong of stomach, (yes, some diapers still make me gag) I have never actually tried any of the Prawn's store bought organic food. (We have some on hand for moments when, quite frankly, I can't be arsed to shove something in the blender due to excessive Prawn shoutage.) Mr. DD was trying, unsuccessfuly, to feed her an Ella's Organic sachet the other day (broccoli, pea and pear) which was mixed with baby rice.

"Look, Prawny! Yum yum! This is really...BLAAAARGH!" he said, sticking a small spoonful in his mouth and nearly retching in the process.

"Um, okay, You don't have to eat this anymore. It tastes like socks." he concluded to the Prawn.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Can Has Foodz?

I’ve been doing a lot of laundry this week.

Putting something in your mouth and chewing is something we largely take for granted until we have to teach someone else to do it. Especially someone who, as of yet, has no teeth and has subsisted for 6 months of life on an entirely liquid diet. (Quite frankly, the Prawn can remain toothless for as long as she wants. The minute they come through, Mr. DD and I are going to have to start brushing them and I can only imagine that this process will be only slightly easier than trying to tango with an octopus.)

So, we’ve started on solids.

There is quite literally a bewildering array of advice in terms of weaning floating around. When you should start. What you SHOULD give. What you SHOULDN’T give. How much salt is too much? How much sugar is too much? Do you mash, mush or puree? I myself have been given conflicting advice by two midwives working AT THE SAME SURGERY. In light of this obvious lack of organization among health professionals, I have taken my own path which is called, “Feed My Daughter Things That Don’t Make Her Vomit Or Bored Enough to Simply Smear In Her Hair”. It seems to be working out okay. My full color recipe book of the same title will be in stores in time for Christmas.

We are pretty much still at the textured goo stage. In a fit of supermommy ingenuity, I prepared an actual meal for the Prawn several nights ago; the same meal that her father and I were having, which included salmon, mashed potatoes and peas. This was after I was tremendously pleased with myself; not only had I prepared a tasty, nutritious, low salt meal for my daughter, I had made enough for two MORE meals for her which I promptly stuck in the freezer.

Of course, it made the Prawn gag. Try as we might, shovelling ejected comestibles back into her gaping maw, we could not get her to eat until we gave up and went back to the organic puree that we’d been starting her out on. (Which, by the way, looks god awful, but she seems to think that a broccoli, pea and pear combo is manna from heaven.) So, to the health visitor who so confidently proclaimed that babies don’t NEED food to be pureed, even at the beginning, I say please kiss my ass. YOU feed her. I am investing in a hand blender asap and the Prawn WILL eat her food in liquid-ish form for a bit. In fact, next week, I'm going to give some recipes from Mush a whirl.

It could certainly be worse. I could be feeding her crisps. I could be putting Coke in her bottle. (No shit. One of the midwives I talked to early on told me she’d run into someone who was doing this) I could be I could be Britney Spears. Eating mushy food for a bit will not be the worst thing to ever happen to the Prawn.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with a stain treater and three bibs covered in day old Weetabix.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Baking on the Edge

My mother is an extraordinary baker of cakes. Although it has been rather a long time that she had to make one in the shape of a large doll or flower garden, in the heyday of my childhood birthday parties, her cakes were not only tasty, but works of art. I remember hanging out in the kitchen while she used her bewildering array of cake decorating supplies- little silver nozzles attached to bags that spewed forth colourful icing, most of which I was allowed to lick when she was finished. (Then she’d spend the rest of the day trying to peel me off the ceiling depending on which food coloring she’d used.)

Every one of her culinary sweet things was an unqualified success aside from the unfortunate batch of cupcakes that she prepared for my 4th grade class that ended up tasting exactly like Rubber Cement because we glued little ears and whiskers onto the cake wrappers. Whoopsie. Luckily, this was in the days before frequent, petty lawsuits. Mom now sticks to more adult friendly cakes that include copious amounts of rum and raspberry cordial and less industrial adhesives.

The Prawn is now officially half a year old. I remembered seeing a photo of a ½ birthday cake that my mother made for me smeared all over my face and thought I’d like to do something similar. (Make a cake, not smear it on my face.) In preparation, I bought my first icing bag and nozzles at John Lewis, thinking that everyone including the cashier who rung me up could probably see that my first attempt was likely to be a bit of a hash.

“I’m going to bake you a cake, girlie,” I told the Prawn.

“I don’t doubt it, Mummy,” she seemed to say, “but the day will likely end with more icing on you than on your chocolate sponge.”

In the meantime, between the purchase of ingredients and decorating implements, my brother in law and his lovely girlfriend went and got themselves engaged. So it was pretty obvious that one cake was not going to cut it.

Betty Crocker is my cake goddess and her mixes always produce cakes of extraordinary moist tastiness, so the process of turning one of those babies out wasn’t too difficult. My only regret is that my tongue is not adequately shaped to get all the batter out of the spokes of the mixer. It is a feat of self control that I waited until after switching it off to begin the licking process.

The icing was another matter. My only frames of reference were dim and fuzzy memories of haunting the kitchen while my mother worked. I remembered the white icing bags, the nozzles, the food coloring…but not exactly how to use them. Without being excruciatingly boring, I will suffice to say that I now have 2/3rds of a can of salmon colored frosting left over and a shirt that’s going to need some stain treatment before it goes in the wash.

At any rate, you can see the results. My BIL and his now fiance returned from their holiday (they spent a week at Mr. DD's uncle's villa also) last night (We call them Duff and Trumpet. It's a long story) and we celebrated their impending union by demolishing a bottle of champagne, all of the engagement cake and part of the Prawn’s birthday cake.

The Prawn, being too cranky to remain vertical and conscious for the bulk of the celebration, will get her token frosting-smeared moment this afternoon with lunch for the benefit of posterity.

I hope to become more proficient at the art of cake decoration before she asks for a Taj Mahal themed birthday party.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy 6 Months, Prawn

So the Prawn is 6 months old today.

She has celebrated by eating solid food, rolling over, drinking water from the tap and throwing a pretty extreme temper tantrum. A good birthday in anyone's book.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Prawns Gone Wild

So we're back from sunnier climes. Portugal, to be exact. We were surprised to discover, upon our return, that Autumn had happened in our absence, so now it's all about trying to scrounge up some winter threads for the Prawn.

But anyway, we had a fantastic time. I may have posted something about the place where we stayed last year- Mr. DD's uncle owns a monster villa high in the hills above Faro where we stayed again, this time with some friends and their one year old son. The last time I was there, I was suffering from morning sickness, so I had a vague fear that I might feel kind of queesy from the smell of the place, but luckily, it was all good. We had a very pleasant week of beaches, pools, rum, wine and relaxing once the kids were in bed. The Prawn coped admirably with her first airplane trip and made doe eyes at everyone in the vacinity, making herself a load of new friends and cheek pinchers.

Here are pictures, as promised.

Her first trip into the pool was not an unqualified success. A long day on a plane and tiredness probably contributed to the screaming frenzy that occurred. But the next day, after a bit of kicking her legs over the side, she had a MUCH better experience. I believe we might have an Olympic breaststroke champion in our midst.

Water baby!

Mr. DD, as a small child, once fell asleep face down in his dinner. It looks like that's where she got it from.

Dad and Prawn at the beach.

More beach/Prawn action. As we've never travelled with children before, it was only natural that we were going to forget some things. Like the 6 sunhats that I bought her specifically for this trip. A muslin ended up serving as head protection gear.

The grounds of the villa are beautifully tended and boast an amazing display of native flora and fauna.

First encounter with the sea.

Pinching a bit of protective head gear from her playmate, Jonas.

Wearing Daddy's shirt.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Rockmama is off to sunnier (hopefully) climes for a week. I shall not be far from broadband, but I'm probably going to spend most of the week trying to keep the Prawn from falling in the pool or drinking daddy's rum, so I may check in midweek. Will hopefully have some uber cute Prawn pics to upload upon our return.

Can someone pause the web until I get back?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Good Thoughts Needed

Everyone please go give Sara some love.

Monday, September 03, 2007

An Easy Day

The week before a vacation, you get a bit of a case of senioritis. It's hard to get much done due to constant daydreams about how good the sun is going to feel on your oily, naked body. Or in my case, my flabby, white and mostly covered body with those stretch marks that are stubbornly sticking around. Mmmm, sexy. Luckily, the ever lovely Ms. Prufrock has provided me with a perfect excuse for hassle-free blogging. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

7 Facts/Interesting/Freak-like Things About Rockmama

1. I am also in the "hate to be surprised" club. Not in a "Hey, I bought you a diamond ring for our anniversary" kind of way, but more in a "don't fucking sneak up behind me because you won't see my ass for dust" way. I have been known to have scared people who've surprised me more than I myownself was actually scared due to all the screaming. When I was in college, I spent my summers painting properties owned by the college- often large and empty houses with large cellars. This always made me kind of jittery, so I usually just popped in my Walkman and tried to forget about my irrational fears. One day, I was painting the ceiling in one such house when my supervisor walked in unbeknownst to me and you can imagine that after he caught up with me about a block away, there was some laughing done on his part.

2. I talk to myself ALL THE TIME. It's really bloody embarrassing. I'll have imaginary conversations with people, make up little snippets of dialogue for characters in the movies in my head, or just find myself vocalizing my thoughts. Since having the Prawn, I've had to be more careful due to the presence of the baby monitor. There have been several occasions on which I've been like, "Was I just talking out loud? Did Mr. DD just hear me having a conversation between Lord Winterbottom and his young ward, Genevieve?" I worry about me sometimes.

3. I got cautioned for soliciting when I was about 15. I was waiting for my dad to pick me up outside a laundromat when a cop rolled by and told me to "move along" because he didn't want any girls of "my kind" on his beat. Uh, ok. All the hookers I'VE ever seen wear old overalls and Birkenstocks.

4. Before I get on a plane, I always plant a kiss on my hand and then press it to the fuselage as I walk through the door. It's just one of those things. I've been doing it for as long as I can remember and I know if I don't, the plane will obviously go down in flames. Even Mr. DD has begun to rely on my pre-flight ritual. "Don't forget to do the thing," he says as we walk down the jetway.

5. If I could eat one food absolutely guilt free without gaining a pound from it for the rest of my life, it would be pizza. I know a lot of people would probably say this. Sadly, what with all the baby belly still sloshing around, I don't get it very often. Tonight, we are having salmon fillets, mushroom cous cous and broccoli. I would pretty much give a minor limb for a large pepperoni from Papa Johns.

6. I love flowers and gardens, but have no talent with them whatsoever. My mother is amazing with plants, Mr. DD's mother (before the dementia) was amazing with plants, but both of us are of the "brown thumb" persuasion. Actually, that sounds kind of nasty, so lets just say that we kill stuff. The only reason that our garden looks nice right now is because my mother spent a day working on it when she came to visit.

7. I was a theatre major in college. Yeah, I know. However, I am hugely proud of the fact that I managed to ad-lib in rhyming verse once during a performance of Moliere's The Imaginary Cuckhold. The beautifully painted flat that had the town painted on it toppled over and I turned to the actor playing my husband and said, "Oh my goodness Sganerelle (Gonerell)/ Look at that; our house just fell." I got a near standing ovation in the middle of the play.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chasing the Dragon

I think I have mentioned before that Mr. DD and I have a penchant for rocket lollies. The entire top drawer of the freezer is full of them. When we run low, Mr. DD instructs me to go and gather new materials for our space program. luckily, they are only 1/2 a point according to Weight Watchers, so you can stuff yourself with them and still feel okay about it.

The Prawn has also developed a worrying fondness for them. It started when she was terribly grumpy about things that were occuring in her gum region and thought we'd give her a little cold treat. But I believe we have now created a small sugar shark and are going to be forced to get a bigger boat.

I am now forced to share my rockety bounty with my daughter.

After some thought, we decided to try her out on a yoghurt lolly instead. The resulting scowl and Colonel Sanders goatee were too good not to document.

Monday, August 27, 2007





I have to admit, I almost peed a little when I saw this baby costume. It's like the gods themselves had answered my Halloween prayers. Literally, within seconds of seeing this on one of the threads on the BabyCenter boards, I had purchased one. It'll have to be shipped from the States at a cost of nearly $20.00, but DAMMIT, MY CHILD WILL BE DRESSED AS A GIANT PRAWN FOR HER FIRST HALLOWEEN.

Before this development, was there any chance of us going anywhere on October 31st? No, but now I will drive her to every neighboring town and village to show her off. Is there really any point in HAVING this costume if you're not going trick or treating? Hell yes. And that point is the 25,000 pictures that we're going to take, cause it's not every day that you get to dress your baby up like a lobster.



Friday, August 24, 2007

A Distant Memory

When you've suffered with IF or recurrent losses, one can't even imagine a time when two lines on a First Response test were cause for terror rather than joy. The times that you can just barely remember from high school or early college, when you might have laid awake at night going, "When was the last time I had my period? Holy shit, I can't even remember. OMG, I CAN'T HAVE A BABY RIGHT NOW. " Of course, Aunt Flo would dutifully show up the next day and you'd be so relieved that you even relished the cramps.

I had pretty much forgotten about all of that until this month when I suddenly realized yesterday that I had NO idea when I'd last had my period.

Mr. DD and I are all over having another baby, providing that my body will cooperate. This is not a given. Obviously, I take the idea of another miscarriage seriously. I think we're both pretty uncomfortable with the idea of having a second child at the moment. For starters, we're still looking for the instruction manual for the first one. Secondly, we have no space. Thirdly, I have about 50 pounds to lose to avoid problems like GD the next time around. And fourthly, just....hell no.

There's a certain sheepishness about purchasing a pregnancy test while pushing a baby buggy containing a rather young baby. The girl ringing up my purchase definitely had a bit of a smirk on. A "rather you than me" look, I feel.

I was so anxious about it that I went to the grocery store loo to discover my fate.

Only one line. Whew.

"No siblings for you just yet, young Prawnling." I said.

She blew me a raspberry.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


So, here's the latest edition to my little collection of body art. Just inked this morning by a very talented woman who looks and talks more like a hair dresser than a tattoo artist. (No visible tats whatsoever- slightly unusual. Most inkers I've met have large and extensive collections of sometimes very disturbing tattoos.) At any rate, it only took about 15 minutes and I'm pleased to say that there was no screaming on anyone's part. Mr. DD graciously offered to stay home with the Prawn so that a girl friend could come with me and that we could go out shopping and to lunch afterwards. I could just lick him sometimes.

The tattoo parlour I frequent is probably much like every inkery in the known universe. Giggling teenagers anxious for belly rings that will inevitably piss off their parents, staff with enough facial jewelry to set off airport metal detectors and walls covered in flash. The woman who did my tat had, in her portfolio, a picture of a design that she once did on the sole of someone's foot, which, I have to admit, made me feel slightly queasy. You would have to hold me down with the anchor of the Queen Mary to let someone do that to me.

Some of the things that people have immortalized into their flesh absolutely astound me. One begins to see the reason for the rule that most reputable parlours abide by in respects to not inking the inebriated, because the sober often have bad enough taste just on their own. Once, while perusing a coffee table book on unusual tats, I came across a jaw droppingly awful piece of ink (which I had a quick troll on the internet to see if I could find, but I abandoned the search after coming up with too many disturbing results) that consisted of a number of stylized and brightly colored penises strung in a necklace around a woman's neck. One of them even said "Mom" which brings up all kinds of Freudian questions that don't bear thinking about. It was obviously a labor of love for the artist, and one would hope, for the poor, cracked cow who now has to live with this chamber of horrors permanently etched into her flesh for all time. Apparently, this particular tat is well known in the ink slinging trade and was done by an artist called Dave Lum. There are actually forums where tattoo enthusiasts debate the ethics involved in doing such a piece of work. Mr. Lum, if you're out there, more power to you, but you are a twisted, twisted man.

I am pleased to say that there will be no colorful cock necklaces in my immediate future. As a matter of fact, I'm not entirely sure how many more times I'll go under the needle. Excepting a similar tat for the birth of, I hope, our second and last child, I'm not sure how many more bits of ink that I need. I have to admit to a small fantasy of the Prawn asking me to join her for mother/daughter tattoos on her 18th birthday, but it could be that she decides to be a nun or something and doesn't really want ink ruining her chances at being Mother Superior, but who knows what the future holds?

I'm a pretty big coloring book. I've still got some blank pages left.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


The Prawn sleeps. I make a beeline for the keyboard.

Vis a vie her continued development into a human being, I broke my “no bloody expensive toys before she’s capable of playing with them” rule in order to purchase the two obligatory baby toys without which you are not allowed to keep your Mommy Membership card- the colourful stacking rings and the little xylophone. Along with the order, I also purchase a swim nappy which won’t necessarily help her to become a well rounded human being, but will at least prevent her from taking a hellacious dump in the swimming pool.

I had both of these toys as a kid. I remember that when I was about 7, I was absently playing with one of the rings (having long outgrown it, the base of it spent a good deal of time being used as an offensive weapon against playmates) and getting it stuck on my wrist, resulting in a removal that I believe included margarine. The xylophone was also used well beyond its shelf life as an annoyance device to all adults within a 100 meter radius. Not wishing to deprive my daughter of the same opportunities to drive me up a tree in the near future, I thought it’d probably hop to it.

The xylophone was pretty much as I remembered it. In fact, the version that I bought is actually simpler than the one that I spent hours banging on tunelessly when I was a child. The Prawn’s musical device is actually made of wood rather than metal resulting in more pleasing musical “plonk” noises rather than the maddening “plink” of its metallic cousin. My only complaint is that it is somewhat out of tune. Only blessed with four “bells”, it should sound like a vocal warm up scale. However, the lowermost bell is out of tune and I fear that it might lead the Prawn to turn up at her first music lesson only to be chastised by her teacher by ear-bending pitch deficiency.

The rings, on the other hand, turned out to be slightly more high tech that my old plastic wrist entrapment device. Caveat Emptor- especially when you neglect to read the description of the items you purchase. Not that this thing isn’t cool, but it seems a little unnecessarily high tech for a stacking ring set. I liked the idea of the lovely, colourful bits hanging off the side of the rings, but discovered to my consternation, upon opening the package that it was graced with an “on” switch. After batting at it experimentally for a few minutes, I discovered that it revolved while playing midi sound clips of disturbing music and children laughing. Why is it that everything today has to move, wiggle, sing or vibrate to keep a child interested? It might go a long way toward explaining why we have a whole generation coming up with the attention span of hummingbirds.

My favourite toy as a child? A cardboard refrigerator box.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bad Mommy. Very Bad.

Forgive me for the lapse in normal blogging service. My parents came from the States to visit us (well, the Prawn, mainly) and my time was taken up with family related merrymaking.

The Prawn has taken what seems to be her first step on the road to some semblance of sentience. (Does that work, gramatically? Semblance of sentience?) While I am pleased with this development, I'm not sure that it came about for the right reason.

She has got the baby bird trick down pat. When she sees her bottle or dummy, (Yes I use a dummy and I will wrestle anyone who believes that I am evil for doing so.) she has begun to open her mouth in anticipation. Great, right? I now feel obligated to mention that the reason she started doing this in the first place was because we have, er...very occasionally let her suck on the tips of ice lollies.

She's teething! Honest!

Last night, Mr. DD was eating one with her on his lap and she launched herself, shark like, in the direction of the lolly, little gummy jaws open and wanting. No more ice lolly for you, little sugar fiend.

Did I mention that we also gave her a fingertip's worth of a taste of homemade strawberry ice cream at 2 weeks?

Yup, we're going straight to hell.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Sure Thing

It seems impossible that 4 months have elapsed since I got the warrant to evict the Prawn from her uterine squat.

I expected to want to record every second of her babyhood but I've found it doesn't necessarily make great reading. Days are fairly routine; eating, sleeping, smiling, laughing, puking. I often come to Blogger with a nonsense post and give up in favor of reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" or "Aliens Love Underpants" to her.

Since I spend most of my afternoons with the Prawn just surfing around the internet, I usually try to have something vaguely intelligent on television to keep me company. (The Prawn doesn't watch, but she listens, so I have to make sure that what she's listening to doesn't suck.) The last few weeks, I've been going back though the third and fourth seasons of The West Wing, one of my favorite shows of all time. (And I'd just assume that if the Prawn has to listen to something, it's a script written by Aaron Sorkin.) At the end of the Fourth Season, Toby Zigler, the rather prickly White House Communications Director, and his ex wife have twins, conceived through IVF, on the same night that the President's daughter is taken hostage by Muslim extremists. In a rare moment of downtime, Toby gets to discuss the birth with Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry.

TOBY: I think I was nervous I wasn’t gonna love my kids… the way other fathers love theirs.

LEO: Why?

TOBY: I don’t know. If, for nine months, you’re hearing how this is gonna change your life, and: “You’ve never loved anything like this,” and, “My God, the love” and, “Nothing’s gonna be important anymore.” It just never really felt to me like I was someone who had the capacity for those feelings. Plus, you know, I… I like what’s important to me. I want it to stay important. I, uh…I wanna be able to do it well.

LEO: What do you mean, you don’t have the capacity?

TOBY: (pauses) Anyway, I was just curious.

LEO:Of course you’re gonna be a great father. Of course you’re gonna love your kids the way you’re supposed to, the way other fathers…

TOBY: My God, Leo, we look around, we see that’s not true. It’s not automatic.

LEO: I’m not talking about everybody. I’m talking about you and I’m telling ya, it’s a mortal lock. It’s guaranteed.

I'd been looking for just that sentiment before the Prawn was born. I was terrified that I wasn't going to get that "mommy" thing. That, even after all the heartbreak, I'd look at this pink blob and just go, "Okay."

The Prawn is looking at me right now, moving her mouth up and down and making noises that could best be described as a turtle chewing bubble gum.

It's a mortal lock.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


This should make her grandparents, the public school teachers, very happy indeed.

Friday, July 13, 2007

OT: In Need of a Purge

I try not to write stuff on my blogs that I wouldn't actually say to someone's face. The internet, while ginormous, has a tendancy of becoming very small indeed very quickly with a targeted keyword search, as so many people have found out to their peril. I don't like to go spewing vitriol anyhow- I'm not a believer in karma, but it's always seemed to me that when I radiate bad energy, it tends to either eat me or come back on me later in ways I can't imagine. Today, it's eating me and I feel like I've got to give it a voice before it bursts, Alien style, though my stomach.

I find it ironic that Pru also chose today to tackle the subject of the difficulties of making friends. Both being ex-pats, we've faced having to start over again in a new country post-education, making it hard to meet new people. While Mr. DD and I actually DO have some functional friends, the majority of them are wildly dysfuctional and I probably spend more time than I should worrying about what they get up to.

I wrote a post last year that I deleted when I believed that some of the people mentioned might have gained access to my main blog, which, at a pinch, MIGHT be able to lead to this one. I was wrong, but I was glad I deleted the post nonetheless. Unsurprisingly, some of those very same people are STILL turning me inside out with frustration.

Our god daughter's parents have just split up. This is not a particular surprise to anyone. She was an "oops" baby and we've known for ages that her parents don't particularly care for eachother. My issue at present is her mother.

"***** is getting it in the neck for finishing with her boyfriend." her rather flip Facebook status read the other night.

In an MSN conversation with Mr. DD this morning (which was obviously less friendly from his end than she was expecting) she was also remarkably casual about the prospect of our goddaughter never getting to see her half-brother again. (Her father has a son from his previous marriage.)

Mr. DD: will *** still get to see his sister?

Her: i guess, again depends on when (her boyfriend) has them

Mr. DD: :(

Her: again its probley not a great loss to *** as (his mother) will probley twist his head

Mr. DD: when he's older he'll want to know though

Mr DD: as will she

Her: i doubt he'll be that intrested as i said before, *** really happy we split up so she'll make him forget or not be bothered

Um....make him forget that he's got a little sister who he REALLY loves? Make him not interested that this person who's been with his Dad for almost two years now is suddenly not there anymore?

The fact that she's broken up with her partner neither surprises nor upsets me. What gets me is her STAGGERING flippancy about the whole thing as well as her daughter's relationship with her older brother. It's not like she's just tumbled some guy she met out at the pub. She's just broken up with the father of her daughter.

Our goddaughter was conceived at a time when I felt like my world was crumbling around my ears after my second miscarriage. This little girl managed to rescue something good out of a really messy situation for her parents and, in a way, for me too. To see her mother being so casual about ripping her world apart makes me want to throttle her until her eyes pop out.*

And writing all of this down makes me realize that I'd have no trouble saying any of that directly to her face.

*Can I also just mention a few other facts that make me want to commit homicide? She sits the baby down in front of the worst British soaps imaginable; Eastenders, Emmerdale, Corrination Street. In front of shows like Big Brother. Shows where people spent the majority of time screaming at one another. Also? She lives in a house crammed full of toys...with no books. This is a woman who told me I was having a laugh when I told her that we had an International Space Station. I have no hope for my goddaughter.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The inevitable result of handing something to someone who doesn't know what hands are for.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Gums of Glory

Despite the serene photo, I should warn you; there's a whole lot of screaming going on at Chez Prawn.

The dreaded teeth are on their way. We hoped we'd have a few more months of lovely shiny gums before evil incisiors started trying to cut their way through our lovely little girl's flesh, but being as how she seems to be doing just about everything else early, it's all about shouting these days.

Being that she is her parent's child and by nature, perverse, while she SHOULD be getting her front teeth first, nature has decreed that her first tooth is going to be one of her BACK teeth, which usually don't come in til toddler years, so we're kind of puzzled about this turn of dental events. We thought it couldn't POSSIBLY be one of her back teeth, but the little white point is clearly visible in the back of her mouth whenever she opens it to emit an ear piercing screech.

To our joy, we've discovered that teething can cause all kinds of other problems including lack of appetite, causing every mealtime to become Wrestlemania. I even got slightly crazy the other day and gave her her first taste of baby rice after being completely exhausted by my efforts to keep her bottle in her gob. It didn't go quite as badly as I expected, although I think probably more of it ended up ON her than IN her. Ah well. Early days.

The cherry on the cake is the vaccination she's scheduled for tomorrow, which is bound to improve her mood. Her first round was administered by a needle that looked as if it was meant for horses, so we're battening down the proverbial hatches for a tidal surge of cranky.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

At Least She Doesn't Go Up To 11

One of the slightly dimmer children in my mother's classroom, upon seeing this picture on the wall, asked if the volume knob actually worked.